Canadian Stocks Mostly Lower; Utility Stocks Slammed After Atlantic Power Adopts ‘Poison Pill’ Plan

Canadian stocks have been down from the off and are currently nearly 50 points lower – albeit off day lows – on lower commodity prices. The failure of U.S. politicians to come to a deal on budget cuts is also hurting sentiment. All sectors bar Health Care and Telecome are lower.

Resources stocks are sharply lower, matching declines for their underlying commodities. Shares of mining and material companies are down about 1.2% as a group, with declines for gold and copper futures today. Energy stocks also are lower following a 1% drop in crude oil prices.

Utility stocks are falling today, including a 30%-plus decline for shares of Atlantic Power (ATP.TO, AT) – which has hit its lowest levels since late 2008 – after the electric company late yesterday said it has implemented a “poison pill” plan, explaining the measure was not in response to any takeover attempt or the anticipation of receiving one and instead was intended to provide its board and shareholders ample time to consider and assess any unsolicited bids.

AT also said that the move would give the board time to identify and negotiate other options to maximize shareholder value.

In other company news, Magna International (MG.TO, MGA) is up about 4% and has hit 52 week highs after reporting Q4 earnings of $1.49 per share, ex one-time items, beating the Capital IQ consensus expecting a $1.14 profit. Revenues were $8.03 mln, versus the analyst estimate of $7.74 mln.

The company expects FY13 revenues in a range of $32 bln to $33.4 bln. The Street view is looking for $32.17 bln in revenues this year.