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Stocks to watch: FRE, IFT, PGW, SKT, RBD, TUR, VCT, XRO

Stocks to watch: FRE, IFT, PGW, SKT, RBD, TUR, VCT, XRO

Aug. 16 (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, investors will be looking offshore for direction. Global stocks rallied overnight after Japan's second quarter growth numbers fell by less than expected, sending a clear 'risk-on' signal to the market. On Wall Street, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 2% The Reserve Bank of Australia is scheduled to release the minutes from its August meeting today, which the market will be sifting through for hints as to when the central bank is likely to cut interest rates.

Freightways Ltd. (FRE): The express package company posted a 7% increase in underlying annual net profit from a combination of volume and pricing increases as well as new business. The company boosted bottom-line profit 29% to $29.9 million for the year ended June 30, although it was distorted by $1.3 million in one-off costs associated with the Christchurch earthquakes and lower tax charges. FRE shares fell 1.5% to $3.21.

Infratil Ltd. (IFT): The infrastructure investor has upgraded its insurance policy on Wellington Airport in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake, securing cover over loss of profits for up to 18 months, according to a report by Fairfax Media. IFT shares fell 1.7% yesterday to $1.69.

PGG Wrightson Ltd. (PGW): The rural services company's bond and debenture holders have agreed to the sale of its finance unit to Heartland New Zealand Ltd. Some 96% of bondholders owed $92 million agreed to the deal, while 99% of secured depositors and 89% of unsecured depositors supported the deal. PGW shares were unchanged at 46 cents yesterday.

Sky Network Television Ltd. (SKT): The pay TV operator has confirmed that it looking at converting its analogue frequencies to a new "Sky-Lite" digital terrestrial TV package. The second cheaper platform is seen as a bid grow its customer base. SKT shares were unchanged yesterday at $5.78.

Restaurant Brands NZ Ltd. (RBD): The operator of the KFC, Pizza Hut and Starbucks franchises has reportedly told workers they will be paid for hours lost during the latest snowstorm, according the Unite Union, quoted by Fairfax Media. The union says it believes the company is legally obligated to pay staff their rostered hours. RBD shares rose 2.6% yesterday to $2.37.

Turners & Growers Ltd. (TUR): The High Court in Auckland has thrown out five of the company's claims that kiwifruit exporter Zespri had taken advantage of its state-mandated monopoly to stifle competition in export markets other than Australia. TUR shares rose 4.2% yesterday to $1.73.

Vector Ltd. (VCT): The Auckland electricity and gas supplier, in its opening application for a judicial review of aspects of the Commerce Commission’s recent changes to the rates of return on monopoly networks, told the High Court in Wellington that foreign lenders are being put off by the "constant tweaking" rules. VCT shares rose 2.2% yesterday to $2.35.

Xero Ltd. (XRO): The online accounting software maker has won $4.04 million in research and development funding as part of the government’s Technology Grants Scheme. The deal requires private companies to provide 80% of the funding for research of high value new goods and services, while the grant scheme puts in 20%. XRO shares rose 4.2% yesterday to $4.50.


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