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Stocks to watch: AMP, Pike River, Pumpkin Patch

Monday 22nd November 2010

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AMP looks likely to inherit a multi-million tax claim from the IRD if its Axa Asia Pacific bid succeeds, Pike River shares are halted from trading in the wake of the mine explosion and questions over his Hanover Finance past prompt Pumpkin Patch chairman Greg Muir to step down.

AMP (AMP): The Australian wealth manager is likely to inherit a multi-million tax claim from Inland Revenue if its takeover bid for Axa Asia Pacific is successful. Government is said to be looking for $30-$50 million from Spicers Portfolio Management, which is owned by Axa AP. Shares fell 2.1% to $6.41 on Friday.

Pike River Coal (PRC): Shares of Pike and 29% owner New Zealand Oil & Gas were halted from trading following the explosion at Pike’s West Coast mine. Pike fell 4.3% to 88 cents on Friday and Oil & Gas fell 3 cents to $1.20.

Pumpkin Patch (PPL): Greg Muir will step down as chairman of Pumpkin Patch after his previous stewardship of Hanover Finance has led to questions over his fitness to chair the children’s clothing chain. Muir was chairman of Hanover Group from December 2005 to October 2008, meaning he was there when the group froze $554 million of investors' funds in 2008. Shares rose 0.5% on Friday to $1.86. 

Rakon (RAK): The crystal oscillator manufacturer's earnings growth could come under pressure from the strength of the New Zealand dollar as it has no currency hedging facility in place, according to First NZ Capital analyst, Jason Familton, quoted on the ShareChat website. He forecasts full-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, excluding associates, will fall to $19.4 million from $27.8 million if the currency remains at its current levels. Shares rose 1.7% on Friday to $1.21.

Telecom (TEL): New Zealand's biggest telephone company will extend the availability of fast fixed-line broadband to another 7% of New Zealanders if its joint bid with Vodafone wins the rural broadband initiative tender, according to press reports. Under the terms of the proposal, Telecom has agreed to rollout broadband to communities with more than about 200 phone lines, and Vodafone will erect 154 cellphone towers in the countryside. Shares fell 0.5% to $2.13.

Widespread Energy (WEN): The exploration company looking into the viability of rock phosphate on the Chatham Rise has reported a net loss of $185 million for the six months to September 30, compared to $29 million in the same period previously. Operating expenses rose to $117 million in the period, from $58 million previously, which the company attributed to a significantly activity as the Chatham Rise Rock Phosphate Project kicked off. Shares were unchanged at 15 cents, and last traded on November 4.

Themes of the day: Wall Street closed the week on a more positive note on signs that Ireland would accept a bailout and news that China will not use interest rates as its primary means of controlling inflation. On Friday the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.3% to 1,199.73. The New Zealand dollar rose to 77.88 US from 77.81 cents in New York on Friday, bolstered by demand for growth sensitive currencies. Government is set to release travel and migration data for October today.

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