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Stocks to watch: ALF, FPH, GPG, HGD, NZO, SKL

Stocks to watch: ALF, FPH, GPG, HGD, NZO, SKL

Dec. 31 (BusinessDesk) – The following stocks may be active on the New Zealand exchange after developments since the close of trading. All prices are in New Zealand dollars unless specified.

Themes of the day: The NZX 50 Index is heading for an annual gain of about 2% though with stocks on Wall Street weaker overnight, the local bourse may struggle to add to its meager gains. Crude oil fell from its 26-month high early in the week after U.S. Energy Department figures showed supplies of crude oil fell less than expected. The kiwi dollar rose above 77 U.S. cents for the first time this month, helped by resilient prices for commodities.

Allied Famers Ltd. (ALF): The rural services company is poised to be the worst performing company on the wider stock exchange this year with an 81% slump backing up 2009’s 83% decline. The firm failed to transform itself into a major lender when it acquired the Hanover Finance and United Finance loan books in a debt-for-equity swap last year, and ultimately had to send its own finance arm, Allied Nationwide Finance, into receivership.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare (FPH): The rising kiwi dollar reduces the value of overseas sales for the manufacturer that counts the U.S. as its largest market. The shares were at $3.19 yesterday and have declined about 4% this year.

Guinness Peat Group (GPG): The diversified investment company is warning shareholders about an unsolicited offer from Christchurch business Bernard Whimp to buy GPG shares at just 49 cents apiece, a 31% discount to yesterday’s price of 71 cents at the close. Whimp sent out a handful of low-ball offers earlier this week while the Securities Commission is closed for the Christmas and New Year holiday. GPG said it hasn’t endorsed the offer, which “appears to be an opportunistic bid to acquire shares cheaply.”

Heritage Gold NZ Ltd. (HGD): The price of gold fell 0.5% to US$1,403.85 an ounce after hitting a three-week high yesterday. Demand for the rare material climbed to record highs this year as ongoing debt problems in Europe and a stalling economy in the U.S. prompted investors to park their funds in safe options with low returns. Shares in gold miner Heritage Gold were unchanged at 2.3 cents in trading yesterday and have dropped 36% this year.

New Zealand Oil & Gas (NZO): Crude oil fell below US$91 a barrel after U.S. Energy Department figures showed a 1.3 million barrel decline in U.S. crude supplies last week, just a third of the 3.2 million barrel decline that analysts had expected. The shares rose 2 cents to 87 cents yesterday and have declined 31%in the past month, reflecting the deadly explosions and subsequent receivership of its 29%-owned Pike River Coal.

Skellerup Holdings (SKL): The rubber goods and milking equipment maker will end the year at the top of the NZX 50 Index with the stock surging more than 130% this year, forcing its way back into the benchmark index. Craigs Investment Partners investment adviser Stuart Hardie said the company “really got their shop in order” after a “hammering” in 2009, with greater exposure to the dairy sector. The shares fell 1.7% to $1.16 in trading yesterday.


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