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Stocks to Watch: New Zealand Equity Preview

Monday 8th September 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 U.S. government stepped in to rescue that nation's two biggest mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Federal Housing Finance Agency will act as 'conservator' of the organizations until they can be put back on a secure footing. In New Zealand, house values fell for a second month in August as vendors cut prices to woo a smaller pool of buyers. Average prices dropped 4.5 percent from a year earlier, according to Quotable Value New Zealand Ltd.

Air New Zealand Ltd. (AIR): the national carrier, will cut fares on routes across the Tasman Sea by an average 15% next month to stoke sales as demand wanes. Air New Zealand stock fell 1.7% to NZ$1.14 on Friday and has declined 45% in the past 12 months.

Fletcher Building Ltd. (FBU): the central bank is expected to cut the official cash rate a quarter point to 7.75% this week, which may help nudge mortgage borrowing rates lower. Shares of the nation's biggest construction firm fell 0.7% to NZ$7.55 on Friday and have declined 35% this year.

Fronde Systems Group Ltd. (FSG): the business transaction systems developer, whose shares trade on the Unlisted market, on Friday said it agreed to sell part of its Fronde Anywhere unit, releasing cash back into the business. It gave no details of the buyer or price. The transaction settles in October. The shares trade infrequently. They fell 38% to 50 cents on Jan. 25 and are currently bid at 60 cents.

New Zealand Oil & Gas Ltd. (NZO): Crude oil fell to a five-month low in New York on Friday as the dollar strengthened. Crude oil for October delivery fell 1.5 percent to $106.23 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest since April 4.

PGG Wrightson Ltd. (PGW): voting is due today by farmers who own Silver Fern Farms on the proposal from Wrightson to acquire a half stake in the cooperative for NZ$220 million. The deal would see Wrightson take over the procurement functions for the meat company. The stock traded at NZ$2.72 on Friday and has gained 22% this year.

Telecom Corp. (TEL): Communications Minister David Cunliffe today said he asked the Commerce Commission to consider whether there are grounds to investigate national mobile telephone roaming, and whether price regulation is warranted. Telecom shares traded at NZ$3.15 on Friday and have declined 30% in the past 12 months.

By Jonathan Underhill

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