Atlas Iron, BHO, Caltex, Lihir, Rio, Healthscope: Australian Stock Preview

The following is a list of companies whose shares may rise or fall in Australia. This preview includes news announced after markets closed. All prices are from yesterday’s close unless otherwise stated.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index futures contract due in Sept. rose 1.3 percent to 4,428 at 6:59 a.m. in Sydney. The Bank of New York Australia ADR Index lost 3 percent. The S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped 0.1 percent to 4479.7.

Mining shares: BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group slid in London and New York trading on speculation Australia’s incoming Prime Minister Julia Gillard will pursue a new mining tax, even after she agreed to consult companies on the plan that has sparked widespread protests among companies, workers and politicians.

BHP Billiton (BHP AU), the world’s largest mining company, climbed 1.3 percent to A$39.65 in Sydney yesterday. Its American depositary receipts dropped 2.3 percent in New York trading.

Guinea’s government sent Rio Tinto (RIO AU) a letter informing the world’s third-largest mining company of its intention to acquire a 20 percent stake in blocks 3 and 4 of the Simandou iron ore concession. Guinea has the rights to buy the stake, Mahmoud Thiam, the country’s mines minister, said. The stock gained 1.7 percent to A$71.73 in Sydney yesterday. It fell 4 percent in New York.

Oil companies: Crude oil finished little changed after being pushed up by U.S. factory orders and improved unemployment figures, then down as equities declined amid concern the European debt crisis is worsening. Crude for August delivery gained 16 cents to settle at $76.51 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL AU), Australia’s second- largest oil and gas producer, dropped 0.2 percent to A$44.56, and rival Santos Ltd. (STO AU) gained 0.2 percent to A$12.81.

Gold producers: Gold futures rose the most in a week after the Federal Reserve said it will keep U.S. borrowing costs low for an extended period, which may weaken the dollar and boost the appeal of the precious metal. Gold futures for delivery in August rose 0.9 percent to $1,245.90 an ounce on the Comex.

Newcrest Mining Ltd. (NCM AU), Australia’s biggest gold producer, climbed 0.8 percent to A$35.65.

Lihir Gold Ltd. (LGL AU), the second-largest gold producer on the Australian stock exchange, was raised to “outperform” from “underperform” at Credit Suisse Group AG by equity analyst Michael Slifirski. The stock gained 0.9 percent to A$4.37.

Atlas Iron Ltd. (AGO AU): The Australian iron-ore producer set to expand output fivefold this year is in talks with three groups from Asia and the Middle East to sell a stake in its A$2.7 billion ($2.36 billion) Ridley project, Chief Executive Officer David Flanagan said. The stock climbed 4.7 percent to A$2.24.

Caltex Australia Ltd. (CTX AU): The company said it expects an after-tax profit in the range of A$125 million to A$145 million for the first half of 2010. The stock fell 4.5 percent to A$10.35.

Healthscope Ltd. (HSP AU): CVC Asia Pacific scrapped plans to team with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. in a takeover offer for Australia’s second-biggest hospital owner, the Australian Financial Review reported in its Street Talk column, without saying where it got the information. KKR is still doing due diligence for its bid, which may compete with a rival group including Blackstone Group LP, TPG Capital and Carlyle Group, the newspaper said. The stock gained 0.9 percent to A$5.35.

IOOF Holdings Ltd. (IFL AU): The Australian fund manager’s potential acquisition of Axa Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd.’s North investment platform has been questioned by opponents of the deal, the Australian Financial Review reported, citing unidentified people it said were familiar with negotiations. Leaked research says IOOF wouldn’t have the distribution or scale to absorb North, the newspaper said. The stock rose 0.8 percent to A$6.23.

Orica Ltd. (ORI AU): The world’s largest industrial explosives maker was raised to “outperform” from “neutral” at Credit Suisse by equity analyst Rohan Gallagher. The stock fell 2.7 percent to A$25.39.

DUET Group (DUE AU): The energy asset investment company backed by AMP Capital was rated “hold” in new coverage at Deutsche Bank AG by equity analyst John Hirjee. The stock dropped 7.5 percent to A$1.655.

Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN AU): Australia’s biggest airline was raised to “overweight” from “neutral” at JPMorgan Chase & Co. by equity analyst Scott Carroll. Shares gained 0.4 percent to A$2.36.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah McDonald in Sydney at smcdonald23@bloomberg.net

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