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Stocks to watch: F&P Healthcare, Pumpkin Patch, NZ Oil & Gas

Wednesday 24th November 2010

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F&P Healthcare announces a 54% fall in net profit, Pumpkin Patch reports tough trading conditions in all markets and New Zealand Oil & Gas shares plummet 28% as questions surrounding the future of Pike River Coal surface.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare (FPH): The manufacturer of breathing masks and respirators reported a 54% decline in net profit for the six months to September 30, as the strong kiwi dollar and changes to tax depreciation rules impacted the bottom line. Operating revenue for the period fell 3% to $244 million. Shares rose 0.3% yesterday to $3.01.

New Zealand Oil & Gas (NZO): Shares in the energy exploration and production company plummeted 28% to 87 cents as question surrounding the ongoing viability of Pike River Coal started to surface in the wake of the explosion at its mine which trapped 29 people underground. NZOG owns a 29% stake in Pike, and holds 17 million options, $29 million of convertible bonds and a short-term funding facility with $13.1 million outstanding. It also has an option until March 2013 to purchase Pike coal at market prices.

NZX (NZX): The securities market operator has added Woodward Partners to its list of sponsors, which will allow the investment bank to assist companies to list securities on any of the NZX's markets. Woodward Partners was founded in 2009. The shares fell 2% to $1.50 yesterday.

PGG Wrightson (PGG): The rural services group yesterday announced the purchase of South Australia-based Keith Seeds. The deal follows the recent acquisition in New Zealand of the Corson Grain maize seed business. The price of the transaction was not disclosed. Shares fell 4.1% to 46 cents.

Pumpkin Patch (PPL): The children's clothing retailer told shareholders at its annual meeting yesterday that it is facing tough trading in all its markets, particularly in its largest market, Australia. Still, the company plans to open 14 new stores in Australia and three in New Zealand during the current financial year. Shares fell 1.1% yesterday to $1.80

Spotless Group (SPT): The Australian dry cleaning and laundry chain has been provisionally awarded a contract with BHP Billiton Nickel West to provide maintenance, catering and cleaning services Mt Keith and Leinster. Shares were unchanged at $.87 on the NZX.

Wakefield Health (WFD): The private hospital operator is rated a ‘buy’ according to broker McDouall Stuart, quoted on the ShareChat website. The company's revenues have been adversely affected by the fall-off in surgical procedures due to tighter Accident Compensation Corp. controls on procedure, but it is expected to benefit in the medium to long term from New Zealand's aging population. Shares were unchanged yesterday at $6.12.

Themes of the day: Global equities fell as investors fled riskier market positions after news that North Korea and South Korea traded artillery fire added to concerns over European sovereign debt defaults. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 1.4% to 1,180.57, while in Europe the Stoxx 600 fell 1.5% to 263.62 at the close. The New Zealand dollar fell 76.11 US cents from 76.95 cents yesterday, a four-week low. Gold rose to US$1,375.75 an ounce, from US$1,366.09 late on Monday.

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