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Stocks to watch: Fletcher, Telecom, Heritage Gold

Wednesday 1st December 2010

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Fletcher shares remain unchanged despite government data showing a fall in building consents, investor impatience about ultrafast broadband project participation sends Telecom down and Heritage Gold reports a narrowing loss.

Fletcher Building (FBU): Government data yesterday showed building consents, excluding apartments, fell 1.1% in October to 1,096 compared with the previous month. That's the fourth consecutive monthly decrease, and has seen the trend in the number of new dwellings slide 20% since March. Shares in Fletcher, New Zealand's biggest construction company, were unchanged at $7.95.

Heritage Gold NZ (HDG): The minerals prospector helping float Broken Hill Prospecting on the ASX reported a loss of $242,000 for the six months to September 30, compared to a loss of $306,000 in the same period a year earlier. Revenue almost tripled to $41,000 as it continued to expand its gold exploration in the Coromandel Peninsula. Shares were unchanged yesterday at 2.8 cents.

Lyttelton Port (LPC): The port operator is considering building a new berth to help load ships during a three-to-five-year period it will take to rebuild the wharf after the Canterbury earthquake, according to press reports. Preliminary damage reports have put the cost of repairs between $50 million and $200 million. Shares were unchanged yesterday at $2.25.

Mainfreight (MFT): The trucking company's Australia and New Zealand operations are expected to deliver solid growth, but US and Asian markets offer the greatest potential upside, according to First NZ Capital analyst Kar Yue Yeo, quoted on the ShareChat website. Third quarter results rebounded significantly, with earning for the first seven weeks of the period 25% ahead of the same quarter a year. Kar Yue is forecasting adjusted net earnings will rise from $38.3 million in the year ended March to $49.1 million in 2011 and to $59.3 million in 2012. Shares rose 0.4% yesterday to $7.35.

Telecom (TEL): Shares in New Zealand's biggest telephone company fell 2.3% yesterday to $2.16 with investors "impatient" ahead of an expected announcement from government as to who will be building its ultrafast broadband project, according to Grant Williamson, a director at director Hamilton Hindin Green. The announcement was expected weeks ago, with no specific date given as to when the winning bid will be announced.

Wellington Drive Technologies (WDT): The manufacturer of highly efficient brushless electric motors for the commercial refrigeration and ventilation markets announced yesterday that it was looking to raise $8.4 million to fund its ongoing operations. The one-for-one pro rate renounceable rights offer is offered at 1.25 cents per share, an 86% discount on the share price of 7.5 cents immediately before the announcement. Shares fell 47% yesterday to 4 cents.

Themes of the day: Europe’s sovereign debt crisis was the sole focus of global markets, after Ireland's bailout failed to quell fears of the contagion spreading to other countries, which saw investors flee equity and euro positions. In afternoon trade the Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 0.2% to 1,184.94, while in Europe the Stoxx 600 closed 0.1% weaker at 261.83. The New Zealand dollar rose to a 12-week high against the euro, and climbed to 57.33 euro cents from 56.84 cents yesterday. It was unchanged against the greenback at 74.53 US cents. Australia's Bureau of Statistics is set to releases third-quarter economic growth numbers today.

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