Newcrest dragged down

Brokers, fund managers and other market watchers believe speculation around Newcrest Mining's disclosure record is damaging the company's share price, after the stock lost yet more ground on Tuesday.

Brokers, fund managers and other market watchers believe speculation around Newcrest Mining's disclosure record is damaging the company's share price, after the stock lost yet more ground on Tuesday.

Despite a stable gold price, shares in Newcrest have slipped more than 4 per cent over the past two trading days as controversy rages over briefings the company gave analysts in the weeks leading up to a major corporate restructure on June 7.

Newcrest has denied revealing market sensitive information, but has not denied that briefings took place.

ASIC and the ASX are investigating why the Newcrest share price lost almost 15 per cent of its value in the 72 hours before the restructure was made public, and also why numerous analysts downgraded the stock over the same period.

Newcrest shares have fallen on five of the past six trading days since June 7, despite the gold price being steady during that time and no other clear catalysts beyond the disclosure scandal emerging.

When asked if those falls and Tuesday's 20¢ fall to $11.15 were likely to be related to the disclosure speculation, Shaw Stockbroking analyst Vincent Pisani said "absolutely".

"If there is going to be any suspicion of wrongdoing, a lot of fund managers would think if they hold the stock knowing full well that there could be an inquiry, then they've got to justify that to their trustees," he said.

"There is no way in the world that you would walk in front of a trustee meeting and say 'I'm still holding Newcrest', only to hear 'Don't you know all this stuff is going on?'

"People are conservative and say, 'I'm going to take a loss and at least I can justify it because there may be an inquiry."'

Mr Pisani said the stock would be a good buying opportunity at current prices if the company was cleared of any wrongdoing, but there had been no sign of that yet.

"Not a lot of people want to buy a stock if there is a hint or a question mark on selective briefings, if that was done," he said.

Newcrest shares have been sliding for much of the past nine months on the back of repeated gold production downgrades.

A well-placed observer said the disclosure scandal was exacerbating the credibility problem that Newcrest developed after the repeated downgrades. "If you lose some credibility, it has a very negative impact," he said. "They must be conscious of that."