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Stocks to watch: GPG, LPC, NTH, SKL, SPN, TTK, VCT, WBC

Stocks to watch: GPG, LPC, NTH, SKL, SPN, TTK, VCT, WBC

Aug. 26 (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:
Earnings season continued today with Guinness Peat Group posting a better first-half profit on Coats earnings and asset sales, while Vector Ltd. boosted earnings on growth in electricity use. A slew of State-owned enterprises are reporting today, including Solid Energy and Genesis Energy, both of which have been flagged for partial privatization.

Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke's speech at the central bankers' summit at Jackson Hole later tonight will dominate market activity today, as investors look to take positions depending on whether they are betting for or against a third round of quantitative easing.

Nervousness saw equities decline, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index falling 1.7% to 1,157.95, and Europe’s Stoxx 600 Index slipped 1.2% lower to 227.07. So-called safe havens gained, with gold up to US$1,764.14 an ounce from US$1,736.60 an ounce yesterday, and yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury bills falling to 2.23% from 2.27%.

Guinness Peat Group (GPG): The investment company lifted first-half earnings after its Coats Plc. unit made its biggest contribution ever and the firm sold off assets. Profit attributable to shareholders rose to 17 million pounds in the six months ended June 30, from 12 million pounds a year earlier. Threadmaker Coats contributed 23 million pounds to the group. GPG shares were unchanged yesterday at 63 cents.

Lyttelton Port Co. (LPC): The Christchurch port operator, which was forced to take a $23 million charge on earthquake damage in its first half, has reported a jump in full-year earnings and increased volumes of all the freight types that cross its wharves. Net profit rose to $24 million in the year ended June 30, from $9 million a year earlier. The period covered all the Canterbury quakes and resulted in about $36 million in insurance payments so far. LPC shares were unchanged yesterday at $2.

Northland Port Corp. (NTH): The port and infrastructure investment holding company has reported a net surplus of $4.7 million, or 11.45 cents a share, for the 12 months ended June 30, up from $3.1 million, or 7.59 cents a share, in the previous year. The increase in profit was due to improved trading from associate company Northport Ltd. on buoyant log volumes. NTH shares were unchanged yesterday at $1.44.

Skellerup Holdings (SKL): The rubber goods and milking equipment manufacturer rose 1.6% yesterday to $1.24 after it reported a net profit of $20.2 million for the 12 months ending June 30, up from $11.9 million in the previous year. Revenue rose 7.1% to $193.6 million in the period. The company said it was targeting a net profit of between $22 million and $23 million in the 2012/13 financial year.

South Port New Zealand Ltd. (SPN): The Port of Bluff operator reported a net profit after tax of $5.98 million in the year to June 30, a 15% improvement on the previous year as every major cargo category, including logs, processed sawn timber, meat and dairy-related exports and imports, and a record year of shipping from the Rio Tinto aluminium smelter at nearby Tiwai Point. SPN shares were unchanged yesterday at $3.20.

TeamTalk Ltd. (TTK): The owner of the CityLink fibre optic network lifted annual profit by a quarter as it boosted broadband service sales. Net profit rose to $4.7 million, or 21.4 cents a share, in the 12 months ended June 30, from $3.8 million, or 18.3 cents, a year ago. Broadband sales rose 15% to $14.6 million, making up 46% of the group’s $32 million revenue. TTK shares rose 0.5% yesterday to $2.15.

Vector Ltd. (VCT): The Auckland electricity and gas distributor has reported a 4.1% increase in net profit to $201.4 million for the 12 months ended June 30, on growth in electricity volumes, a doubling of smart meter installations and a strategic deal with Transpower. Revenue was $1.2 billion, up from $1.18 billion in the previous year, and EBITDA rose 10.1% to $636.6 million. VCT shares fell 1.6% yesterday to $2.40.

Westpac banking Corp. (WBC): The Australian lender has been forced to pull its "red and black'' bond from the market after it failed to draw enough support from investors, falling short of the $50 million needed. The bond was launched to help raise funds for the rebuilding of Christchurch. The 5 year bond offered an interest rate of 5.8% a year, of which 0.5% would go to the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust. WBC shares fell 0.8% yesterday to $25.10 on the NZX.


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