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Stocks to watch: NZX, Mercer, NZO, XRO, WFD, AMP

Monday 17th May 2010

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NZX shares dip after posting a decline in net profit and Mercer halts principal repayments to non-banks.  Wakefield full-year profit tumbles 39% as sales drop and Xero posts a wider loss and ramps up global growth.


NZX  (NZX: NZX ): The stock exchange operator posted a 3% decline in net profit to $2.9 million as rising operating costs outstripped growth in revenue. The shares fell 5 cents to $1.75 on Friday. 

Mercer Group  (NZX: MGL ): The manufacturer of stainless steel products which is part-owned by Allan Hubbard said on Friday it has halted principal repayments to non-bank lenders and is mulling its refinancing options after it breached its banking covenant last year. The shares, which trade infrequently, were last at 30 cents.

New Zealand Oil & Gas (NZX: NZO ): Crude oil fell to a three-month low on Friday in New York amid fears Europe’s debt crisis will weigh on economic growth and sap demand for fuel. Crude oil for June sank to US$71.61 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The shares were unchanged at $1.53 on Friday.

AMP  (NZX: AMP ): The Australian pension plan provider's chief executive Craig Dunn said last week that his company is in talks with AXA SA about making a new bid for the French company's stake in AXA Asia Pacific. The stock fell 1.5% to $7.45 on Friday.

Wakefield Health  (NZX: WFD ): The owner of Wellington’s Bowen and Wakefield hospitals posted a 39% drop in full-year profit on Friday, reflecting a decline in ACC-funded patients, less work from district health boards and a drop in patient-funded major surgery in the wake of recession. Shares of Wakefield trade infrequently and were last at $7.01 on May 11.  

Xero  (NZX: XRO ): The online accounting software company reported on Friday that its full-year loss widened to $8.45 million from a loss of $6.75 million, as it continued to spend more than it earned while it attempts to ramp up global sales. The shares fell 1.9% to $1.55 on Friday. 


Economic themes of the day: Investors are awaiting the release of Finance Minister Bill English's Budget on Thursday, which will include changes to the tax regime, likely to be an increase in GST and tighter rules for tax on investment properties.

Shares dropped on Wall Street on Friday, with the Standard & Poor's 500 Index falling 1.9%. The kiwi dollar fell about 50 points to 70.72 US cents.

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