Shares in Steel & Tube Holdings have fallen to their lowest level since the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York on September 2001.

A short while ago, they were down 5.2 per cent, or 10 cents, to $1.84. The shares traded at $1.80 on September 13 2001.

In a statement published to the market last night, Steel & Tube said it was in talks with "multiple agencies" in New Zealand and China over pile casing that was to be used in bridges for the Huntly bypass that weren't up to scratch.

The Petone-based company supplied imported steel used by Fulton Hogan and HEB Construction which was found to be too weak for four bridges on the bypass after being cleared by earlier inspections. The company said after the discovery of issues with the casings it has worked with Fulton Hogan and HEB to find a "safe engineering solution" and had incorporated the impact in the downgraded earnings guidance last month.


On May 18, Steel & Tube cut its earnings guidance by 10-15 per cent and in April it agreed to only sell seismic reinforcing steel mesh that had been independently tested.

The Commerce Commission is currently investigating possible misrepresentations of the mesh's performance characteristics that could breach the Fair Trading Act.

Greg Smith, head of research at Fat Prophets, said sentiment was against the company after a run of problems.

"It's fair to say sentiment is at a fairly low ebb. Management came out with an earnings downgrade last month, there are the Huntly casings all over the media, it's one thing after another for them".

He added that the only way it could be turned around was through results: "They need to hit the revised full year earnings, perhaps exceed it a little bit, that could be a catalyst."

Smith said Steel & Tube could offer value for investors who were willing to take the risk.

"When the market is running hard and running well, the New Zealand market has been a strong performer the last few years, value doesn't abound as much. It stands out in that regard, a bit of an ugly duckling at the moment. But any stock that's trading at single-digit multiples requires a little bit of a leap of faith".