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Stocks to watch: New Zealand equity preview

Wednesday 27th 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: The New Zealand dollar fell to about 69 US cents overnight from as much as 70.50 early yesterday. US Federal Reserve policy makers are most likely to increase interest rates in the world's biggest economy though they aren't agreed on the timing, according to minutes of their meeting this month.

Air New Zealand (AIR): The national carrier yesterday reported net profit fell 1% to NZ$218 million, amid high fuel costs. Chief executive Rob Fyfe predicted tough times in the current year with potential softening of demand in the UK and Europe. The stock has tumbled 41% in the past 12 months. It fell 1.6% to NZ$1.20 yesterday.

Allied Farmers (ALL): Shareholders of Speirs Group yesterday unanimously approved the sale of the company's finance unit to Allied Farmers for $5.6 million in cash and stock. Allied stock last traded at $1.27. Speirs hasn't traded since July 22, when it changed hands at 35 cents.

Contact Energy (CEN): Chief executive David Baldwin today welcome the Environment Minister's decision to call in its resource consent application for the proposed Hauāuru mā raki wind farm. The minister's decision may help the project for as much as 540 megawatts of power to sidestep delays, he said. The stock rose 1.1% to NZ$8.40 yesterday.

Energy World Corp. (EWC): The energy asset investor today said full-year profit fell to NZ$21 million from NZ$54 million a year earlier. The drop in profit mainly reflected one-time gains in the 2007 results. Sales rose 35% to NZ$76 million. The shares trade infrequently on the NZX.

Guinness Peat Group (GPG): The investment company chaired by Ron Brierley posted a loss of 20 million pounds in the six months ended June 30 after writing down the value of its stock holdings. Its threadmaker unit, Coats, had an operating profit for one-time items of about 68 million pounds. Guinness Peat stock has declined 20% in the past 12 months, tracking the benchmark NZX 50 Index for the most part. It rose four cents to NZ$1.48 yesterday.

ING Property Trust (ING): Fund manager ING New Zealand may end a freeze on $520 million of money owed to 8000 investors in two funds in the next six months, the Dominion Post reported. ING Property units rose one cent to 77 cents yesterday.

By Jonathan Underhill

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