Stock Takes

A closer look at the markets by Tamsyn Parker

Stock takes: Air NZ'S Dreamliner nightmare set to continue

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Air New Zealand is preparing for an even longer delay in the delivery of the much awaited Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The national carrier had been indicating it expected to receive the high-tech aircraft, which consumes 20 per cent less fuel than other jets of comparable size, at the end of 2013.

But chief executive Rob Fyfe told shareholders at the company's annual meeting in Auckland this week that the airline was now expecting entry into service in 2014.

"The aircraft was originally due to arrive at the end of 2010," he said. "[The delay] has caused a number of complications through Air New Zealand as we've had to rejig our existing aircraft. We've had to retain aircraft we would have otherwise retired and extend leases."

Fyfe said Air New Zealand had received compensation from Boeing for the disruption caused by the delay and was having ongoing discussions about further compensation "relating to the most recent delays".

"We are extremely disappointed with Boeing's performance in this area," he said.

More than three years behind schedule as a result of production and design problems, Boeing claims the Dreamliner will be a game changer for the aviation industry.

The first Dreamliner was delivered to Japan's All Nippon Airways on Monday.

Air New Zealand shares closed steady at $1.09 last night.

SELLING THE SKYCOUCH

Rob Fyfe says around 13 airlines are interested in buying Air New Zealand's intellectual property around its Skycouch lie-flat economy and Space Plus premium economy seats.

But the company wanted to prove the value of the seating innovations on its own aircraft before it sold the technology to other carriers.

"We believe we'll be able to gain more value [from selling the IP] once we've proven not just that the seats operate but [also] the economic benefits of the seats," Fyfe told investors.

"What we want to sell is not just the seat but the entire business model in terms of how other airlines can monetise the benefit of that seat configuration."

He said the company expected to confirm deals with other airlines within the next 12 months.

RETURN OF THE BEAR

Fear of a return to a worldwide recession is gripping markets from London to Tokyo.

But some NZX-listed companies are back there already, if their depressed share prices are anything to go by.

One example is oscillating crystal manufacturer Rakon, whose shares sank to an all-time low of 63c in March 2009, but recovered to $1.64 by June of the same year.

But since June 2009 the stock - which surged to an all-time high of $5.46 in late 2007 - has mostly gone downhill. Shares fell to 65c last Friday, just shy of their early 2009 low, and closed at 66c last night.

Rakon has been facing strong currency headwinds, and announced at the start of the month that it would lose about $20 million in cash earnings during its current financial year because of the kiwi dollar's ongoing strength against the British and United States currencies.

PUMPKIN SQUASH

Shares in children's clothing retailer Pumpkin Patch are plumbing similar depths.

More than 10 per cent was wiped off the company's value on Tuesday when the firm announced a 50 per cent fall in underlying full-year net profit and the news that its long-serving chief executive, Maurice Prendergast, has resigned.

Pumpkin Patch shares soared to almost $5 in early 2007 following the company's initial public offering in 2004, before plunging to a record low of 78c in February 2009.

From there they recovered to a high of $2.30 in April 2010, before setting out on another mostly downward trend.

This week's bad news from the retailer has taken its shares back to the levels they last reached during the global financial crisis.

Pumpkin Patch shares finished the day down 2c at 78c.

GOOD BUYS?

Are Pumpkin Patch and Rakon shares ripe for the picking, or will they fall further?

Goldman Sachs & Partners New Zealand has a "hold" recommendation on Pumpkin Patch shares, meaning the stock is expected to perform in line with the NZX-50 for 12 months.

First NZ Capital has an underperform recommendation on the stock.

Pumpkin Patch said this week that sluggish global retail conditions meant another difficult year lay ahead for the retailer.

Rakon opened a new factory in China in July, and will reap the benefit of cost savings once production ramps up in the Chengdu plant.

But in the near-term, while the New Zealand dollar remains at historically high levels against the British pound and greenback, times are likely to remain tough for the former sharemarket darling.

Analysts' recommendations on Rakon stock range from underperform to accumulate.

Given the highly volatile market conditions around the globe, picking a good time to buy is probably anyone's guess.

GOLDEN GOODBYE

The New Zealand Shareholders' Association has hit out at the $3 million golden handshake given to ex-PGG Wrightson boss Tim Miles when he left the company unexpectedly last year.

The investors' group said the ex gratia payment continued the firm's "pattern of overpaying a select few at the expense of many".

Miles was paid $4.3 million in PGG Wrightson's last financial year, made up of the $3 million ex gratia payment, his base salary of $615,000, and a short-term incentive bonus of $703,000.

Shareholders' Association chairman John Hawkins said that given the firm's recent performance such a large incentive bonus seemed hard to justify.

PGG shares closed up 1c at 39c on the NZX last night.

- NZ Herald

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