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Morning market movers: 16 stocks to watch

The market is expected to open flat, but I don’t think there’s any way it will finish flat as there’s plenty of corporate news to keep investors busy today.

But for now at least, the futures market is pointing to no change for the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) as US equities had a mixed trading session and commodities took a tumble.

Brace yourself as resource stocks like BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP), Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO), Santos Ltd (ASX: STO) and Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX: WPL) are likely to be swimming in a sea of red.

The price of iron ore crashed under $US60 a tonne. The Metal Bulletin ore price fell 3.5% to $US58.53 a tonne, but it’s not alone as the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil price took a 3.7% kick to the guts as it dropped to $US57.26 a barrel.

Goldman Sachs thinks oil is heading to $US45 a barrel by October and this is one reason why I am staying away from Santos as it’s the most sensitive to the oil price among the major oil & gas companies.

But small cap investors in the energy sector will take heart from Seven Group Holdings Ltd (ASX: SVW). The investment holding company headed by Kerry Stokes has upped its stake in Beach Energy Ltd (ASX: BPT) and Drillsearch Energy Limited (ASX: DLS) to 19.9% each.

That’s about the limit an investor can buy in a listed company before having to make a formal takeover offer, not that I am expecting Seven Group to want to own and operate an energy company but I suspect it wants to be deeply involved in any industry consolidation.

Another laggard that is under the takeover spotlight is engineering contractor UGL Limited (ASX: UGL).

The stock surged close to 37% over the past month on takeover rumors and the Australian Financial Review has poured more fuel on this fire by reporting that its shareholders have been approached by a large private equity firm recently.

Global logistics company Brambles Limited (ASX: BXB) is on the other side of the takeover fence. Its subsidiary, IFCO Systems, has bought Chile-based Renta Pack but no financial details were provided.

Sydney Airport Holdings Ltd (ASX: SYD) is another to be in the spotlight today as it releases its April traffic figures, while a number of companies are holding their investor or strategy day today to outline growth plans.

This includes diversified conglomerate Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES), agri-business Graincorp Ltd (ASX: GNC), building materials company Boral Limited (ASX: BLD) and media group APN News and Media Limited (ASX: APN).

Elsewhere, mineral sands miner Iluka Resources Limited (ASX: ILU), gold miner Beadell Resources Ltd (ASX: BDR) and accounting software company Reckon Limited (ASX: RKN) will be hosting shareholders at their annual general meeting.

Expect lots of news to come out from these meetings. Stay with the Motley Fool as we bring you updates and analysis throughout the day…

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Motley Fool contributor Brendon Lau owns shares of BHP Billiton Limited, Rio Tinto Ltd., and Woodside Petroleum Ltd.. Follow me on Twitter - https://twitter.com/brenlau

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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