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Stocks to watch: New Zealand equity preview

Monday 18th 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: Commodity prices extended their slide. Crude oil fell 1.1% to $US113.77 a barrel in New York. Gold slid below $US800 an ounce to almost a nine-month low. New Zealand's dollar climbed to almost 71 US cents. BHP Billiton, the world's biggest mining company, may post a record full-year profit of more than US$15 billion in London today.

Auckland International Airport (AIA): The nation's biggest gateway said it has settled outstanding claims with Canada Pension Plan Investment Board over expenses related to its partial takeover. No details were given. The airport company posts its full-year results this week, with analysts predicting profit of about NZ$100 million before takeover costs. The stock fell 30% this year to trade at NZ$2.03 on Friday.

Botry-Zen (BOZ): The maker of biological control agents had a set back on Friday when shareholders thwarted plans to raise capital. The company has been in talks with its bank because it needs more funds to remain within the terms of its credit facilities after production glitches. The shares fell to 1.4 cents on Friday and have tumbled 65% this year.

Freightways (FRE): The transport firm, posts its full-year earnings today, which may reflect the impact of soaring fuel costs and a slowing economy, which reduces its ability to pass on costs to customers. Freightways has gained 8% in the past month, about matching the NZX 50 Index.

Michael Hill International (MHI): The jewelry chain posted a 20% gain in full-year profit on Friday after it opened new stores and trimmed sales costs. The shares rose 2.3% to 89 cents on Friday, trimming their slide this year to 29%.

Telecom Corp. (TEL): The nation's largest phone company may consider acquiring Perth-based internet service provider Amcom, the Dominion Post reported. Speculation was stoked by the announcement by agri-business Futuris last week that it would sell its stake in Amcom. Telecom sunk four cents to NZ$3.24 yesterday.

Warehouse Group (WHS): Woolworths plans to appeal a court decision preventing it from acquiring Warehouse Group Ltd., it said in an emailed statement on Friday. "The application for leave will be filed shortly," Woolworths said. Warehouse stock rose 3% to NZ$3.61 on Friday. It has declined 10% in the past month.

By Jonathan Underhill

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