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Stocks to watch: IRG, HNZ, PGC, TLS, TWR, XRO

Stocks to watch: IRG, HNZ, PGC, TLS, TWR, XRO

Aug. 2 (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 Commerce Commission ruled out an inquiry into domestic milk market pricing, saying the competition at wholesale and retail levels exceeds the minimum “little or no competition” requirement for the antitrust regulator to act.

The government will today release the Labour Cost Index and Quarterly Employment Survey for the June quarter ahead of Thursday’s unemployment rate. The Reserve Bank of Australia is expected to keep rates on hold at 4.75% when it meets this afternoon, although the bank is expected to give some hint as to when it will start tightening monetary policy.

Global markets fell on the back of weaker U.K and U.S. manufacturing data, with the Standard & Poor's 500 Index falling 0.2% to 1,286.94, and Europe's Stoxx 600 dropping 1.2% to 262.02.

Investment Research Group (IRG): The NZAX-listed financial services company said it expects to meet an NZX extended deadline to file its financial report for the year ended March 31. The company missed the standard deadline on Friday, saying a “technical matter” relating to the classification of assets delayed the issue of the audit report. IRG shares were unchanged yesterday at 0.7 cents.

Heartland New Zealand Ltd. (HNZ): The would-be bank today announced that net profit is expected to come in between a range of $6 million to $8 million for the year ended 30 June. The results include substantial one-off costs associated with the merger of the Marac and Canterbury and Southern Cross building societies, which formed the group, and its application for a New Zealand banking licence. HNZ shares were unchanged yesterday at 62 cents.

Pyne Gould Corp. (PGC): The U.S. hedge fund Baker Street Capital has lifted its holding in Pyne Gould Corporation to 11.7%. The acquisition now positions it as the second biggest shareholder in the financial services company, after George Kerr's 14% stake. PGC shares were unchanged yesterday at 36 cents.

Telstra Corp. (TLS): The phone company yesterday unveiled plans to shut down the copper telephone network by 2018 as part of its separation undertakings required to participate in Australia's National Broadband Network. It also proposed new regulations for the copper network which will see it report internal pricing for the first time, and prevent staff in network and wholesale divisions from working with Telstra's retail business. TLS shares fell 2.1% yesterday to $3.76.

Tower Ltd. (TWR): The general insurer's financial and credit rating have been reaffirmed by AM Best. The ratings agency affirmed the company's financial strength rating of A- (Excellent) and issuer credit ratings of "a-" of Tower Insurance, Tower Health & Life and Tower Life. The outlook for all ratings is stable. TWR shares fell 1.3% yesterday to $1.50.

Xero Ltd. (XRO): The online accounting software maker today issued 606,130 shares at $2.13 apiece, as part of its purchase of Australia's Paycycle Holdings. The company announced it had acquired the payroll software firm last month for A$1.5 million, made up of A$500,000 in cash and AS$1 million in Xero shares, vested over three years. XRO shares rose 1.6% yesterday to $2.50.


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