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Stocks to watch: ARG, CEN, KMD, MCK, NZO, OIC

Stocks to watch: ARG, CEN, KMD, MCK, NZO, OIC

Aug. 10 (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: With no data on the local front to distract, the market will again be taking its lead from offshore. Global markets snapped their recent run of precipitous declines after the U.S. Federal Reserve committed to keep interest rates near zero for the next two years. On Wall Street, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 4.7% to 1,172.53, and Europe's Stoxx 600 rose 1.4% to 232.20.

Argosy Property Trust (ARG): An independent report by investment bankers Grant Samuels backs OnePath NZ Ltd.’s controversial offer to sell the trust back its management contract for $20 million, saying the offer is "fair" and "in the best interests of unitholders". ARG shares were unchanged yesterday at 79 cents.

Contact Energy Ltd. (CEN): The country’s biggest listed electricity company lost 8,034 customers in July after a campaign by the Electricity Authority urged customers to shop around for competitive deals. The declines follow on from 7,679 customer losses in June, the first month of the “What’s My Number?” campaign. CEN shares fell 1.8% yesterday to $4.82.

Kathmandu Holdings (KMD): Electronic card transaction data for July suggests New Zealanders are loosening the grip on their wallets amid signs the economy is improving, and spending more at the shop. The data show consumers spent 5.7% more on clothing and apparel in July than the month before. Shares in KMD, the outdoor clothing and equipment retailer, fell 6.2% yesterday to $1.97.

Millennium & Copthorne Hotels New Zealand Ltd. (MCK): Wellington hotels received a shot in the arm this winter as room bookings rose 13% in the July quarter, according to Positively Wellington Tourism. The increase was due to a promotional campaign in Australia, filming of The Hobbit, and a "three nights for the price of two" deal during the winter. Shares in MCK, the hotel chain operator, fell 2.4% yesterday to 40 cents.

New Zealand Oil & Gas Ltd. (NZO): The energy exploration and production company's stock continued to come under pressure, falling 4.7% yesterday to 61 cents, as oil prices tumbled amid fears the global economy is sliding back into recession. ICE Brent Crude futures recently traded at US$102.34 a barrel, down from nearly US$120 a barrel at the beginning of the month.

Opus International Consulting Ltd. (OIC): The engineering firm has reported an 8.4% increase in first-half profit to $11.3 million, but only because its tax bill more than halved in the period. Earnings before interest and tax fell 13% to $13.5 million for the six months ended June 30. Revenue rose 6.3% to $196.7 million in the six months. OIC shares fell 5.3% yesterday to $1.80.


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