Stocks to watch at the open

David Jones deals with the double blow of Paul Zahra's departure and increasing staff costs, while BHP Billiton and Oil Search reveal quarterly production numbers.

David Jones

Chief executive officer of David Jones Paul Zahra has quit the department store, citing personal reasons.

Zahra is expected to remain at the helm until a replacement can be found.

David Jones, along with the majority of retailers, is experiencing an increase in operating costs at a faster clip than sales. Unfortunately the problems don’t end there for David Jones – it is expected staff costs will pick up pace this year offering no reprieve on increasing costs of doing business as the local currency continues to march higher.

David Jones is up 25 per cent since January lows, but is trailing competitor Myer in terms of share price performance over the past year.

Quarterly Production Numbers

BHP Billiton

BHP reported first-quarter output today. The company lifted its guidance on full-year iron ore production for 2014, while copper guidance remained unchanged. 

Quarterly production numbers have been mixed from the iron ore miners. Rival Rio Tinto only last week reported record production numbers, while Fortescue disappointed after two belt failures hindered production.

Oil Search

Also announcing production numbers for the quarter is Oil Search.

Last week, fellow oil major Santos reported lower than expected production numbers, but impressed with a record quarterly revenue figure due to the higher price of gas.

Oil Search will likely need to have a strong quarter operationally to stay out of the red today.

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