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Stocks to watch: New Zealand equity preview

Friday 15th August 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: Retail sales figures today may show a gain of just 0.1% in June after sliding in the previous month, figures today may show according to the consensus of economists' forecasts. Excluding autos and petrol, sales probably fell amid weak consumer confidence, weakening jobs market and higher food prices. Crude oil fell 0.9% to $115.01 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. US stocks rose yesterday, snapping two days of declines, led by banks.

A2 Corp. (ATM): The company that promotes milk with a protein variant claimed to have health benefits said yesterday it may raise more funds because of demand from potential underwriters. Any capital raising would be after its offer of NZ$11.3 million of renounceable rights closes on August 22. Any new issue would be priced at no less than 10 cents a share, it said. The shares traded at that price yesterday.

Contact Energy (CEN): The biggest utility on the NZX 50 Index may benefit from a change of government, which could end a ban on construction of new gas and coal-fired power stations, newspapers reported, citing industry analyst Bryan Leyland. Wind farms would become uneconomic if policy changed, he said. The shares rose 0.5% to NZ$8.50 yesterday.

Finzsoft Solutions (FIN): The banking and finance software company told shareholders it is considering a capital management plan to broaden its investor base. The company anticipates a "lengthy period of instability" in the finance sector, with many firms "in a holding pattern." The company posted a loss of about NZ$330,000 last year as revenue gained 10% to NZ$8.3 million. The shares trade infrequently and were at 80 cents yesterday.

Turners & Growers (TUR): The fruit and vegetable auctioneer and distributor yesterday posted a 55% gain in first-half net income, helped by a one-time gain on the purchase of a citrus grower. The company predicted softer second-half trading. The shares were unchanged at NZ$2.10 yesterday and are little changed this year.

Warehouse Group (WHS), Briscoe Group (BGR): Government figures today may provide more evidence that consumer demand is weak. Both companies lowered their profit forecasts the past two months.

By Jonathan Underhill

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