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Stocks to watch: New Zealand equity preview

Thursday 23rd October 2008

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The following stocks may be active on the New Zealand exchange after developments since the close of trading yesterday.

Themes of the day: Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard cut the official cash rate 100 basis points to 6.5% as expected and said there's room for more reductions as the outlook for global economic growth deteriorates. Stocks fell in Europe and the US, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average sliding 5.5% and the UK's FTSE 100 declining 4.5%

AMP NZ Office Trust (APT): Chief executive Robert Lang said yesterday that rentals in the three months ended September 30 rose 13% to NZ$32.8 million. Earnings per unit rose 7.4% to 2.17 cents. The trust raised its first-quarter dividend by 3% to 1.839 cents per unit plus imputation credits of 0.257 cents per unit

CER Group (CER): The manufacturer of organic products is in dispute with the vendors of VRM Group, an Australian environment management business it acquired last year. CER is withholding a A$1 million payment. The shares gained 6.7% to 1.6 cents yesterday and have tumbled 85% this year.

Contact Energy (CEN): The biggest utility on the NZX holds its annual meeting today, which includes a resolution to about double directors' fees in a week when the company raised charges for some customers by 10%. Prime Minister Helen Clark called the fees proposal "absolutely extraordinary when the ordinary consumer is extorted over power bills." The shares fell 3.2% to NZ$7.31 yesterday and have declined 12% in the past month.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare (FPH): The company, which is set to post its results next month, said after the close of trading today that the weakening currency means operating profit "would have the potential to be higher" than forecast. The stock fell 3% to NZ$3.17 yesterday and has climbed more than 40% in the past three months.

Telecom (TEL): The biggest company on the NZX may lead shares higher today after the central bank slashed interest rates. The stock was unchanged at NZ$2.44 yesterday and has dropped almost 45% this year.

Tourism Holdings (THL): The campervan rentals company fell 1.9% to NZ$1.05 yesterday. The number of short-term overseas visitors fell 7% in September from the same month a year earlier, according to government figures yesterday.

Warehouse Group (WHS): Chairman Keith Smith said the outlook for retailing will "remain subdued" over the next 12 months. He made his comments in the company's annual report, out today, adding that in a weak economy, Warehouse will focus on improving productivity. The stock traded at NZ$4.03 yesterday and has jumped 26% in the past month on speculation Woolworths may renew its takeover offer.

By Jonathan Underhill

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