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Of Bulls & Bears

Friday 31st March 2000

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Brokers sink money into Aquaria

Aquaria 21 is a speculator's dream, although it has yet to live up to expectations. With major shareholders like Eric Watson and Craig Heatley aboard, the disposal of its underperforming aquarium assets into a sister company, and strong hints the cashed-up company is looking to reinvent itself as an e-commerce business, there is no shortage of get-rich-quick potential. Among the top 40 shareholders in the company, there have been 10 new arrivals since late November, according to the share register. Of these, seven are brokers or investment banks, presumably operating holding accounts for clients. This indicates there are plenty of smaller investors who want to take a punt on the company, even if its share price in the past year has slumped from 25c to 14c or less. The biggest spender has been Ord Minnett Securities, which holds 2.2 million shares, worth $330,000.

Renaissance touchy about the net

Computer reseller Renaissance Corporation feels the need to defend its rate of adoption of the internet in its annual report out this week. It said it had been asked to explain its "recent" move into e-commerce and took umbrage at the apparent suggestion it had been dragging its heels in going electronic. "For over three years now we have been investing in this area and while many organisations are currently jumping into this space, none has access to the knowledge, understanding and experience we have gained." Given this, the company must be wondering why its share price is trading at around 55c from 80c in January while upstart e-companies see their prices rocketing. Perhaps the problem is Renaissance has real numbers on which investors can make a judgment, unlike many others that have just an idea. Its report shows a net profit for the year to December 21 of $439,000 on revenue of $122.8 million. This is better on both counts than last year but a margin of 0.4% is hardly going to excite investors.

Rugby union numbers are all black

If the New Zealand Rugby Football Union were a business, it would be a pretty successful one. Its annual report, for the year to December 31, shows it made a net profit of $7 million, up 48.9%, on revenue up 11% to $60.4 million. Total assets stand at $53.9 million, well up from 1998's 12.4 million. This result is despite problems with the group's main product, the All Blacks, which didn't meet performance standards at the World Cup last year.

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