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Stocks to watch: New Zealand equity preview

Wednesday 30th July 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: Crude oil fell to a 12-week low US$120.19 a barrel, extending its slide from the record US$147.27 reached this month. A measure of US home prices fell to a record low and consumer confidence in the world's biggest economy remained in a slump. Guardian Trust yesterday became the latest firm to suspend new investments and withdrawals to protect investors.

Dorchester Pacific (DPC): The financial firm's Dorchester Finance unit today said it hopes to get a proposal for making deferred payments to debenture and note-holders by mid-August and, subject to a vote by the investors in late August or September, will continue to pay interest. Dorchester Pacific shares have plunged 80% this year and were recently at 19 cents.

Fletcher Building (FBU): Shares of Fletcher, which owns the US-based Formica laminates business, dropped 3.7% yesterday to NZ$6.25. Prices of homes in 20 US metropolitan areas dropped in May. The S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index fell 15.8%, the biggest slide since the index was started seven years ago.

National Property Trust (NAP): Unit holders yesterday blocked a proposal to amend fees charged by the trust's manager St Laurence, which last month exited lending and sought approval to pay its own debenture holders by installment. National Property fell 1 cent to 51 cents yesterday and has dropped 12% this year.

New Zealand Oil & Gas (NZO): The 12.5% owner of the Tui oilfield has dropped 14% in the past 10 days as the price of crude oil declined. Oil reached a 12-week low in New York yesterday.

Restaurant Brands NZ (RBD): Shares of the owner of the Starbucks coffee franchise in New Zealand have declined 18% this year. Starbucks Corp. in the US this month announced the closure of 600 outlets to revive flagging sales. The operator of the stores in Australia plans to close 61 of its 84 stores in that country, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. Restaurant Brands in May said its Starbucks sales rose 1.4% in the first quarter.

Telecom Corp. (TEL): The biggest company on the NZX 50 Index may cut 1,500 jobs as it relocates more call centre functions to the Philippines, the Dominion Post reported, citing an email from the company to employees. The phone company is trying to arrest a slide in earnings and trim costs and chief executive Paul Reynolds in May said the company "will focus very hard on getting labor costs under control." The stock was last at NZ$3.59 and has dropped 18% this year.

By Jonathan Underhill



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