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Stocks to watch: APN, Auckland Airport, OceanaGold

Tuesday 13th July 2010

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APN is to lose its chief executive, Brendan Hopkins, at the end of the year, Auckland Airport's stake in Queenstown Airport will hopefully entice more overseas airlines to stop in NZ, while OceanaGold's shares jumped over 9% on news of a gold find in Otago.

APN News & Media (APN): The publisher of the NZ Herald and media conglomerate owner’s chief executive has advised that he intends leaving the company at the end of the year. Brendan Hopkins has been in the role since August 2002. The APN board has appointed Heidrick & Struggles to search for a successor, which may come from internal candidates. Its shares last traded in New Zealand on June 31 at $2.43.

Auckland International Airport (AIA): The international gateway’s purchase of just under 25% of Queenstown Airport could be an additional incentive for foreign airlines which don’t currently stop in New Zealand to include this country as a destination, said Forsyth Barr senior analyst Jeremy Simpson. Auckland Airport argues that purchase rather than a simple alliance is a stronger relationship; though it is time for Auckland to prove this logic he said. Its shares rose one cent yesterday to $1.93.

OceanaGold (OGC): Shares of the gold miner jumped 9.1% to $4.20 yesterday, after the company confirmed the discovery of significant additional gold reserves in the Panel 2 Deeps area of the Frasers underground mine, in Otago.

Pan Pacific Petroleum (PPP): The oil company’s Vietnamese unit gained government approvals to acquire a 5% interest in the Block 07/03 Production Sharing Contract from Premier Oil Vietnam South BV PPP will acquire a 15% equity stake in the block by funding part of Premier Oil’s costs. The shares were unchanged at 21 cents yesterday. 

Restaurant Brands NZ (RBD): The fast food retailer’s continuing profit upgrades are almost all due to its KFC chain, said Forsyth Barr analyst Guy Hallwright in ShareChat. “Store refurbishments and an improved menu continue to deliver exceptional results,” he said. The company still intends to sell a number of its Pizza Hut stores to individual franchisees, though the process is lengthy as Yum! owns the KFC, Pizza Hutt and Starbucks brands. Yesterday its shares rose two cents to $2.37. 

Smartpay (SPY): River Horse Trustee, a company associated with Smartpay managing director Ian Bailey, reduced its holding in the eftpos company to 8.3% from 10.2% as a result of its recent placements and share purchase plan. The shares last traded on July 9 at 3.1 cents.

Telecom (TEL): Speculation is growing that the sale of the phone company’s AAPT unit in Australia is imminent. The Australian Financial Review reported TPG Telecom is the frontrunner to buy the business, which was acquired in 2000 and never developed into a strong beachhead into the Australian market.  A second company, Amcom is also reportedly looking at making a bid, while Vodafone and Hutchison Australia may seek parts of the business. The shares rose 1.6% to $1.95 yesterday.

Themes of the day: Alcoa, the first company on the Standard & Poor's 500 to post second-quarter results, beat analysts' estimates with earnings from continuing operations of 13 cents a share, versus a consensus forecast of 11 cents. The report came out after the close of trading on Wall Street, with the S&P 500 edging up 0.1% to 1078.75. The New Zealand dollar held above 71 US cents.

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