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Stocks to watch: Abano, FPA, HBY, IFT, TWR

Wednesday 31st March 2010

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The National Bank Business outlook, out today, will show whether companies remained as optimistic as in February, when confidence jumped to a 10-year high. Today is the deadline the new head of the Serious Fraud Office gave for prosecutions of wayward finance companies. 

Abano Healthcare Group  (NZX: ABA ): The audiology, rehabilitation, diagnostics and dental services provider, announced profit guidance of $4 million to $4.5 million for the year ending May 31. Following sale of the NZ audiology unit, and a drop in overall earnings, its audiology growth will concentrate on Australia and Asia in the medium to long-term, Abano’s managing director Alan Clarke said. Because of the company’s strong capital structure, lower than planned levels of debt and confidence in the mid and long term growth prospects, a continued 21 cents a share dividend was announced along with an upcoming share buyback programme. Its shares rose 10 cents to $5.40 yesterday.

Fisher & Paykel Appliances (NZX: FPA ): New Zealand’s sole whiteware manufacturer said it will replace its exclusive dealership relationship with select retailers and open up its distribution network across the country, giving it the ability to sell through chains like Harvey Norman. The stock gained 1.6% to 62 cents yesterday.

Hellaby Holdings  (NZX: HBY ): The diversified investor’s has found trading  difficult, but industrial equipment, footwear, automotive parts and packaging business, are well-positioned to participate in any economic recovery Forsyth Barr analyst John Cairns said in ShareChat. “Restructuring initiatives have increased Hellaby’s leverage to the recovery,” he said. Its stocks were unchanged yesterday at $1.65.

Infratil  (NZX: IFT ): The Accident Compensation Corp. lifted its holding in the investment group to 7.7% from 6.59%, according to the filing late yesterday. The shares rose 2.4% to $1.72 yesterday, buoyed by a positive reception top its deal to buy Shell New Zealand assets.

NZ Farming Systems Uruguay (NZX: NZS ): The developer of dairy farms in South America this week sold 2,500 hectares of land for US$8.5 million in a move that will allow it to repay nearly half an outstanding debt to shareholder PGG Wrightson. “Selling assets to pay a performance fee is unattractive,” said Craig Brown, who helps manage $3.3 billion at of ING New Zealand. “That’s only part of a number of issues, and it’s going to take a lot of work to regain credibility. The stock fell 5% to 38 cents yesterday.

Tower  (NZX: TWR ): The insurer’s dispute with ANZ National over $70 million of premium income has advanced to the Court of Appeal, the Dominion Post reported. The two companies are arguing over ownership of 110,000 customers, with almost 200,000 general insurance policies. Tower refused to relinquish control of the customers when ANZ switched to Vero for underwriting. Tower fell 2 cents to $1.96 yesterday. 

Economic themes of the day: The kiwi dollar pared its gains after Greece struggled to sell bonds and Iceland's credit rating was downgraded.

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