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Stocks to watch: New Zealand equity preview

Friday 19th 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: Stocks on Wall Street staged a late rally after reports that the Treasury and Federal Reserve are considering setting up an agency to shore up financial markets and central banks pumped in fund to boost liquidity. Gold extended its gains and oil rose. In New Zealand, current account figures are out this morning. The quarterly deficit probably widened to NZ$3.3 billion from NZ$2.16 billion, according to a Reuters survey.

Botry-Zen (BOZ): The biotech company that was forced to seek capital overseas after shareholders balked at pumping in more funds said founder Max Shepherd will step down as a director and chairman after seven years. He will be retained as a technical consultant. Stephen Higgs has been appointed chairman. The shares fell 20% to 1.6 cents yesterday and are down 50% this year.

L&M Petroleum (LMP): The company yesterday said its Goodwin-1 well reached its final depth of 360 metres after bringing up core samples this week that were "fizzing with gas." The company hopes to tap commercial quantities of coal-seam gas, with initial analysis indicating 300 petajoules in its permit areas. The stock tumbled 17% to 17.5 cents yesterday, paring its surge this year to 110%.

Nuplex Industries (NPX): Nuplex Chairman Fred Holland plans to step down as chairman after 27 years at the head of the company. Holland won't stand for re-election at the October 31 annual meeting. The board will appoint independent director Robert Aitken as chairman. Nuplex fell 3% to NZ$6.16 yesterday. In the past decade the stock has advanced 195%.

PGG Wrightson (PGW): The rural services company yesterday announced the acquisition of Stephen Pasture Seeds in Australia's state of Victoria, boosting its seed sales, distribution, treating and coating across the Tasman. No price was disclosed. The shares fell 9% to NZ$2 yesterday and are little changed this year.

Telstra Corp. (TLS): Australia's largest phone company plans to cut 800 jobs in senior management, middle management and professional services, Telstra Corporation Ltd. said in a statement. Chief executive Sol Trujillo said the company is reducing duplication and bureaucracy and improving cooperation between divisions. The company's New Zealand shares fell 4.6% to NZ$4.80 and are down 7% this year.

By Jonathan Underhill

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