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Stocks to watch: New Zealand equity preview

Wednesday 8th October 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 fell, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 3.1%, on concern the credit squeeze will tip the world's biggest economy into recession. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke signaled policy makers may cut interest rates as the outlook worsens. Global economic growth will face a "major downturn" next year, with US growth forecast at just 0.1%, the International Monetary Fund.

Contact Energy (CEN): The biggest utility of the NZX 50 index said profit growth may stall this year. First quarter trading is "well below expectations" because of adverse weather conditions and transmission constraints, the company said in a presentation to investors due to be delivered today. Still, with gearing of just 23% the company's financial strength positions it well for growth, it said. Contact shares traded at NZ$7.45 yesterday and are down 10% this year, less than half of the benchmark index's decline.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare (FPH): The maker of medical equipment gets most of its sales in US dollars and benefits from a weaker New Zealand currency when it brings home overseas revenue. The kiwi dollar fell below 63 US cents yesterday. F&P Healthcare stock rose 2.3% to NZ$3.02 yesterday and has gained 27% in the past three months.

Opus International Consultants (OIC): The engineering consultancy firm said its 65.68% shareholder, UEM Group Bhd., will become a direct investor in its parent company as the group reorganizes itself. The restructuring won't change control of Opus, it said in a statement. The shares fell 5.2% to NZ$1.47 yesterday and have dropped about 20% this year.

PGG Wrightson (PGW): The rural services company will be in talks over the coming week to try to salvage funding for the stake in Silver Fern Farms, the Press reported. Banks wouldn't support the funding package and a share sale was cancelled. Wrightson shares fell 0.6% to NZ$1.75 yesterday and have tumbled 35% in the past month.

Transpacific Industries Group (TPI): The company that took over Waste Management said it is trading ahead of budget and will deliver double-digit growth this year. The Australia-based company raise NZ$40 million in a share placement last week to reduce debt. The shares last traded on the NZX on August 14 at NZ$8.65. Its ASX shares fell 4.8% yesterday to A$5.41 yesterday.

By Jonathan Underhill



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