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Stocks to watch: New Zealand equity preview

Friday 19th December 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: Crude oil fell below US$38 a barrel for the first time in four years amid speculation the global economic slump will sap demand for fuel, hurting prices even as OPEC cuts production. The Institute of International Finance, a body representing the world's biggest banks, said the global economy will contract for the first time in about 50 years in 2009, led by a collapse of growth in developed nations and a slowdown in emerging markets.

Air New Zealand (AIR): The state carrier was the biggest gainer on the NZX 50 yesterday, jumping 5.8% to 91 cents after the carrier said it will vigorously defend charges filed by the Commerce Commission that it was one of 13 airlines involved in cartel activity involving air cargo and fuel surcharges. Separately, Qantas and British Airways yesterday said they'd called off talks about a merger or alliance.

Hallenstein Glasson (HLG): Chairman Warren Bell said retailers may be hit hard after Christmas as jobs losses damp consumer confidence and store rents rise. Earnings fell 26% to $15.9 million and sales slipped 3.2%, as profit margins contracted, in the year to August. The stock traded at $2.27 yesterday and has dropped more than 40% this year.

Mowbray Collectables (MOW): The auction house and stamp dealer said extreme volatility in many global trading markets made short and long term predictions "difficult." "With diversified markets in both New Zealand and internationally and a broad product range in auctions (including our core business) the directors remain hopeful of a good full year result," the company said in its first-half report. First-half profit was $69,594, little changed from a year earlier. The stock last traded at $1.25 on Sept. 17.

New Zealand Oil and Gas (NZO): Crude oil for January delivery dropped 3.2% to US$38.77 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The oil company has been building a strategic stake in Pan Pacific Petroleum to gain more exposure to the Tui oil field and yesterday disclosed it had increased its holding to about 10%. It rose 1 cent to $1.33 yesterday. Pan Pacific was unchanged at 35 cents.

NZ Farming Systems Uruguay NSF): The developer of dairy farms in South America slumped 20% to 60 cents yesterday after saying it may post a full-year loss of as much as US$11 million because of a sharp decline in international prices for milk. PGG Wrightson (PGW): The 11% owner of NZ Farming Systems reaps a management fee from the dairy farm developer. It plans to write down the value of its holding, Wrightson said this week. It fell 15% to $1.30 yesterday.

By Jonathan Underhill

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