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Stocks to watch: New Zealand equity preview

Wednesday 13th 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: Fletcher Building, the largest construction company on the NZX50 Index, posted a 3.5% drop in profit to NZ$467 million, in part reflecting a one-time tax gain in the previous year. Operating earnings gained 10%. Crude oil fell to a 14-week low $113.01 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange and has dropped almost 24% from its record $147.27 last month.

Botry-Zen (BOZ): The manufacturer of biological control agents yesterday said it won't cancel a special shareholders meeting on Friday to vote on the sale of notes and options though the plan was now uncertain. It is continuing talks with Bank of New Zealand and potential subscribers to the sale after manufacturing glitches undermined production targets. Botry-Zen chief executive John Scandrett resigned last month. The stock dropped 12% to three cents yesterday.

Contact Energy (CEN): The biggest utility on the NZX50 Index is dusting off plans to build more hydroelectric dams on the Clutha River, chief executive David Baldwin told Radio New Zealand. Dams may be more viable given the rise in power prices. Any development would be a long-term plan, he said. The stock rose 1.6% to NZ$8.55 yesterday.

E-Media (EMEDIA): The e-commerce company's quotation on the Unlisted market ended today after the company sold its assets and returned capital to shareholders by way of liquidation. Changes in the industry meant substantial writedowns of the company's intellectual property that would leave it technically insolvent, E-Media said in May.

Fletcher Building (FBU): The construction firm posted record operating earnings of NZ$768 million. Sales rose 20% to NZ$7.1 billion, though much of this reflected the acquisition of the Formica business. Revenue was flat in infrastructure, Laminex and distribution. The stock has fallen 45% this year.

Guinness Peat Group (GPG): The Accident Compensation Corp. announced it holds 44 million shares, or about 3.1% of the investment company. Shares of GPG, which last week announced the sale of its stake in Tower Australia to Dai-ichi Mutual, have gained 19% in the past month and changed hands at NZ$1.58 yesterday.

Millennium & Copthorne Hotels NZ (MCK): Government figures showed guest nights in commercial accommodation fell 5% in June from a year earlier. The company this month said revenue for its New Zealand hotel operations, excluding franchised properties, fell 2.5% to NZ$61.9 million in the year ended June 30. The shares have fallen 7% in the past month and traded at 56 cents yesterday.

Telstra Corp. (TLS): Australia's biggest phone company posts its annual results today, having forecast an increase in EBIT of as much as 8% to A$6.24 billion. Telstra's New Zealand shares fell 1.4% to NZ$5.64 yesterday.

By Jonathan Underhill

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