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Stocks to watch: Abano, Contact, NPT

Wednesday 28th July 2010

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Abano Healthcare met its full-year profit guidance, Contact Energy reported no growth in customer numbers last month and NPT has bought in David Simpson to help negotiate a new manager for the property investor.

Abano Healthcare Group (ABA): The health clinic investor posted full-year operating net profit that met its guidance at $4.4 million and held off announcing a share buyback pending the possible sale of an associate company. Shares of the company rose 1.9% to $5.39 yesterday and have declined 16% this year. 

Contact Energy (CEN): The biggest utility on the bourse reported no growth in electricity customers last month, with the total steady at 477,000, though there were some signs in the monthly data of a pick-up. “Interestingly, the numbers in the first weeks of July were at noticeably higher levels, so that might hint that they will be starting the year in a slightly more positive position,” said Craig Brown, equities manager at ING New Zealand. The stock fell 1.6% to $5.60 yesterday.

National Property Trust (NAP): The property investor seeking to cancel its management contract with a St Laurence-related company will have an outsider making a bid for the board in David Simpson. Simpson is looking to oust long-standing director Brian Kreft in Friday’s AGM. The shares rose a cent to 53 cents in trading yesterday.

NZ Farming Systems Uruguay (NZS): Olam International, which has made a takeover offer for the company at 55 cents a share, said it could make the company profitable within two years, according to the NZ Herald. Still, Vivek Verma, an Olam executive, said some of NZ Farming Systems' forecasts were extremely ambitious and probably not realistic. The shares traded at the offer price of 55 cents yesterday. 

New Zealand Oil & Gas (NZO): The price of crude oil fell more than 2% after a report showed consumer confidence tumbled in the US The shares fell 1 cent to $1.23 yesterday. 

NZ Windfarms (NWF): The company yesterday reported annual revenue from electricity sales more-than quadrupled to $4.1 million in the year ended June 30 - still fell well short of the $4.7 million forecast in the April prospectus for its $31.4 million rights issue. The stock rose 4.8% to 22 cents yesterday.

Pike River Coal (PRC): The mining company rose 2.1% to 97 cents yesterday after Centennial Coal, the Australian producer that agreed to a A$2 billion takeover by Thailand’s Banpu, reported a 13% jump in third-quarter sales.

Themes of the day: Inflation data in Australia is due out today and will provide clues to the likely pace of interest rate increases in New Zealand's biggest export market and source of tourists. Australia's consumer price index rose 1% in the second quarter, according to a Reuters survey. Also out today is New Zealand's National Bank Business Outlook, which may show confidence among companies is continuing to wane. Investors will know more about the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's tightening cycle tomorrow, when it is expected to raise the official cash rate a quarter point to 3%.

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