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Stocks to watch: AIA, FPA, FPH, MFT, STH, TEL, TWR

Friday 28th May 2010

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Mainfreight lifts profit by 2.5% and Postie Plus sales rise 4.3%, putting the retailer on track to meet target of annual profit growth.  Telecom could be split into two listed companies and Fisher & Paykel Appliances posted a full-year loss.


Auckland International Airport (NZX: AIA ): The shares rose 2.2% to $1.87 yesterday after Continental Airlines announced non-stop Boeing 787 flights to Auckland from its Houston hub starting on November 16. Continental plans to mainly operate the route on a daily basis, it said.

Fisher & Paykel Appliances (NZX: FPA ): The home appliances manufacturer posted a full-year loss of $83.3 million, reflecting a 15% drop in sales and impairment charges of $102 million on its lower-cost Elba brand, its Reynosa, Mexico plant, its DCS brand and plant and equipment. Normalised group profit fell to $18 million from $33.8 million, and was within its guidance of $16 million to $23 million. The shares fell 1 cent to 55 cents.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare (NZX: FPH ): Chief executive Michael Daniell said the company stands to benefit from U.S President Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms, which would see 40 million more Americans being covered by medical insurance. “We see that as beneficial," he said, according to the NZ Herald. The shares rose 1.9% yesterday to $3.31.

Mainfreight  (MFT): The nation’s biggest trucking firm yesterday reported a 2.5% gain in profit on lower sales, reflecting cost cuts and a drop in one-time charges. The company’s response was to manage costs, improve margins and “aggressively expand our market share,” managing director Don Braid said. Trading improved in the final quarter has carried through to the current period, he said. The shares fell 0.5% yesterday to $5.96.

Postie Plus Group (NZX: PPG ): The Christchurch-based clothing retailer said sales rose 4.3% in the third-quarter, putting it on track to lift full-year earnings. The shares advanced 5.7% to 37 cents yesterday.

Southern Travel Holdings  (NZX: STH ): The company said chief financial officer and company secretary Greg Kemp has decided not to renew his contract and has resigned from his contracted position effective May 21. The company is searching for a replacement. The shares last traded on May 18 at 10 cents.

Telecom  (NZX: TEL ): Chief executive Paul Reynolds told analysts at a briefing yesterday that the nation’s biggest phone company could be split into two listed firms giving shareholders exposure to the fortunes of both Telecom's retail business and its fibre business. The phone company is cutting costs again, with its operating units ceding some authority back to head office to trim out duplication, Reynolds said. The shares rose 0.5% to $1.91 yesterday.

Tower  (NZX: TWR ): The insurance company will pay its first interim dividend in eight years after posting a first-half profit of $27.9 million, after a turnaround in the value of its equity portfolio underpinned a 32% in its net operating revenue to $269 million. Managing director Rob Flannagan said the company has investigated expansion opportunities over the past few months and is continuing to do so, with $150 million in the coffers leaving it well placed to act quickly if necessary. The shares were unchanged at $1.84 in trading yesterday.


Economic themes of the day: Stocks rallied on Wall Street after China indicated it won't exit its holdings of euro debt, easing concern that Europe's debt crisis will worsen and spread.

The New Zealand dollar climbed above 68 US cents for the first time in 10 days after China moved to calm rattled investors.

Data out today includes building consents for April, which will indicate if there's been any recovery in the sector.

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