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Stocks to watch: New Zealand equity preview

Thursday 21st August 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: US food inflation may quicken to the fastest rate since 1980 on increases in prices of meat, dairy products, fruit and vegetables, according to the US Department of Agriculture. In a mixed day on Wall Street, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac extended their slump on rising speculation they will be bailed out by the Treasury. In New Zealand, Compass Capital halted payments to investors and Geneva Finance said it is reviewing its loan book.

Auckland International Airport (AIA): New Zealand's biggest gateway today reported a 51% drop in full-year net profit, reflecting property revaluation gains in the previous year. Operating EBITDA rose 14% to NZ$275.8 million. The outlook is challenging and costs are rising, it said. The stock has fallen 32% this year and traded at NZ$1.98 yesterday.

Botry-Zen (BOZ): The marker of biological control agents yesterday said it may have to sell its business after failing to raise new capital. It hired PricewaterhouseCoopers to review options. The stock traded at 1.5 cents yesterday and has plunged 75% this year.

Mainfreight Group (MFT): The transport company today posted a 41% gain in earnings to NZ$8.2 million in the three months ended June 30 as it won market share in New Zealand and sales surged 62%. The stock has gained 6% this year and traded yesterday at NZ$7.12.

New Zealand Oil & Gas (NZO): Crude oil for September delivery rose 0.4% $114.98 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price has receded from a record $147.27 reached last month.

OceanaGold Corp. (OGC): Gold futures for December delivery fell 50 cents to $816.30 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Telecom Corp. (TEL): shares of the biggest company on the benchmark index sunk to a 15-year low NZ$3.15 yesterday before recovering to close at NZ$3.29.

Xero (XRO): The company today said it has signed its 2000th customer for its online accounting software, as sales growth accelerates. The stock traded at 87 cents yesterday and has gained 15% this year, while the NZX 50 Index fell by about the same amount.

By Jonathan Underhill

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