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Stocks to watch: New Zealand equity preview

Thursday 31st 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: The Court of Appeal allowed an appeal by the Commerce Commission preventing Woolworths Ltd. and Foodstuffs from bidding for Warehouse Group. Australian retail sales growth may have stalled in June, another sign that high borrowing costs are slowing the economy of New Zealand's biggest export market. The figures are due out today. Crude oil for September delivery rose almost 1% to US$123.25 a barrel after U.S. gasoline inventories fell.

Contact Energy (CEN): Origin Energy, Contact's parent, may get an alternative proposal for its coal-seam gas assets in September, prompting BG Group Plc to raise its A$13.8 billion offer for the energy company, Bloomberg News reported, citing Credit Suisse. Contact rose 1.8% to NZ$8.35 yesterday.

Restaurant Brands NZ (RBD): Starbucks Corp. of the US yesterday posted a third-quarter loss because of costs to close 600 outlets and cut workers. The Starbucks franchise in New Zealand is a "relatively small" contributor to earnings at Restaurant Brands and the company expects sales growth to continue, it said last month. The stock has declined about 8% in the past month.

Tourism Holdings (THL): Tourist numbers may reach lowest level in 10 years this year, according to Ministry of Tourism forecasts. Visitor numbers will rise 1.2% this year, it said. The tourist operator has sold assets and last month said net income probably was little changed from a year earlier at NZ$13 million to NZ$14 million. The stock has declined 44% in the past year and was last at NZ$1.40.

Warehouse Group (WHS): The Court of Appeal today ruled in favour of the Commerce Commission by allowing its appeal against a lower court ruling allowing Woolworths and Foodstuffs to bid for Warehouse. The rival supermarket chains are prevented from making bids and were ordered to pay costs to the regulator, according to a decision today.
Each now owns 10% of the company. Warehouse has fallen 7% in the past month after cutting its profit forecast because of a slump in consumer demand.

By Jonathan Underhill

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