Stocks to watch on the Australian stock exchange (ASX) at the close on Monday:
JBM – JUBILEE MINES NL up $6.72 or 39.3 per cent to $23.82
Some market observers believe the strongly performing nickel producer could attract an even higher bid, given that its share price has soared by more than 40 per cent.
SDL – SUNDANCE RESOURCES LTD – down four cents to $9.73
Iron ore company Sundance Resources Ltd says it is not liable to pay a break fee to Gindalbie Metals Ltd after its planned merger with Gindalbie was scrapped.
Sundance said there had been a lot speculation that it would have pay a break fee of $15 million.
UGL – UNITED GROUP LTD – up $1.34 at $21.66
Engineering and infrastructure services company United Group Ltd says sales for the first four months of this year have reached a record $1 billion, and that it is on track for strong annual growth.
The sales result comes after United secured contract renewals, extension and new projects in all of its major businesses, including transport, water and waste water, power, resources and property services.
TAH – TABCORP HOLDINGS LTD – up one cent at $15.12
The head of betting firm Tabcorp Holdings Ltd says horse flu has carved a $240 million chunk out of its turnover so far and that the amount will be double when the problem ends.
The chief executive of the online gaming and racing group, Elmer Funke Kupper, said the overall cost to pre-tax profit would be $30 million when equine influenza had run its course.
WIDE BAY AUSTRALIA LTD – steady at $12.80
Regional lender Wide Bay Australia Ltd has announced a $56.6 million takeover offer for Mackay Permanent Building Society Ltd (MPBS), which it says is superior to a current Bank of Queensland bid.
Wide Bay is offering the target’s shareholders a choice of either 0.65 Wide Bay shares plus $1.00 cash or $9.40 cash for each MPBS share they hold.
Wide Bay says its offer is 15 cents better per share than the equivalent Bank of Queensland bid.
ARG – ARGO INVESTMENTS LTD – down three cents at $8.26
Argo Investments Ltd has a $400 million cash stash to spend on any further stock opportunities thrown up by the volatile Australian share market.
Chairman Chris Harris told shareholders today Argo had outlaid more than $200 million for “quality investment purchases” during the 15 per cent fall in the market during August.
GNC – GRAINCORP LTD – down 23 cents at $9.92
The managing director of grains marketer GrainCorp Ltd, Tom Keene, will retire in 2008. GrainCorp said that Mr Keene had chosen not to seek a renewal of his contract.
“The board has commenced the recruitment process and the transition will occur sometime in 2008,” GrainCorp said.
ZFX – ZINIFEX LTD – up 44 cents at $18.59
Zinc and lead miner Zinifex Ltd says it is on the hunt for acquisitions after banking about $1.6 billion from the successful initial public offer of smelting group Nyrstar.
The offer was priced at 20 euros ($A31.45), with Zinifex and Nyrstar partner Umicore selling about 87 million shares through the offer.
BLD – BORAL LTD – down five cents at $6.77
Building materials group Boral Ltd says earnings in the first half, and for the full year, could be 15 per cent lower, if the Australian dollar remains strong and the US housing market is softer than expected.
The company said its Australian business was performing ahead of expectations in the first quarter of 2007/08 but that the US operations were not doing as well.
QAN – QANTAS AIRWAYS LTD – down three cents at $5.98
Qantas says it is monitoring its fleet of Bombardier Q400 planes after a safety scare overseas.
Danish civil aviation authorities grounded all Dash 8 Q400 planes, also known as Bombardiers, in the Scandinavian Airlines Systems fleet on Sunday after one made an emergency landing at Copenhagen airport.
MAP – MACQUARIE AIRPORTS GROUP – down one cent at $4.40
Brussels Airport, majority-owned by Macquarie Airports (MAp) fund, has reported a 9.5 per cent lift in annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to euros 157.7 million ($A249.15 million).
PSV – PERSEVERANCE CORPORATION LTD – up 4.5 cents at 19 cents
Northgate Minerals is making a bid for gold minor Perseverance Corp which values the target at $282 million.
The transaction would be implemented through schemes of arrangement, by which a wholly owned subsidiary of Northgate would acquire all of the ordinary shares in Perseverance.
PTD – PEPTECH LTD – up three cents at $1.17
Biopharmaceutical company Peptech Limited has completed the first phase trial of a new rheumatoid arthritis drug, finding that ascending single doses of the drug were well tolerated in humans.
Peptech chief executive Dr John Chiplin described the results of the trial, with healthy human subjects, as “great”.
JBM – JUBILEE MINES NL – up $6.72 at $23.82
Global mining group Xstata plc has made a $3.1 billion takeover bid for nickel miner Jubilee Mines NL, that it says will spearhead its expansion into the Australian nickel sector.
The offer of $23 per Jubilee share has been unimously recommended by the target’s board, barring a superior offer being made, as being in the best interests of shareholders.
PBL – PUBLISHING AND BROADCASTING LTD – up 25 cents at $20.67
Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd may have its credit rating downgraded by Moody’s Investors Services if the business is split in two.
Moody’s said it would most likely lower the senior unsecured ratings by one notch to a Baa2 rating with a stable outlook.
IAG – INSURANCE AUSTRALIA GROUP LTD – up 17 cents at $5.03
Insurance Australia Group Ltd has forecast growth in premium revenue in its Australian short-tail personal lines business of between four and six per cent for the 2007/08 first half.
IAG chief executive personal insurance David Issa said the group was experiencing strong conversion rates in its distribution network.
IAG has forecast flat growth in gross written premium revenue from British business Equity Insurance Group in fiscal 2008.
Breaking finance news
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