Makhteshim, Teva lead TA-25 to another record

On the macroeconomic front, emerging-markets analysts at two major investment firms gave investors in Israel a mixed message this weekend, with Citigroup upgrading the country and UBS downgrading.

By MARKETWATCH
May 14, 2007 07:24
2 minute read.

MarketWatch: In-depth global business coverage Israel stocks closed at record highs on Sunday, with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. higher after losing a bidding battle for a drugmaker and agrochemicals giant Makhteshim-Agan up after reporting that first-quarter net income rose 15 percent and saying it would reassess its accounting for certain stock options granted to employees. On the macroeconomic front, emerging-markets analysts at two major investment firms gave investors in Israel a mixed message this weekend, with Citigroup upgrading the country and UBS downgrading. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange's benchmark TA-25 index climbed 0.87% to 1,116.49. On Thursday, it crossed 1,100 points for the first time, finishing at 1,106.82. The index is up nearly 21% for the year to date. The TA-100 Index was up 0.91% at 1109.56. The index has risen more than 20% in 2007. The Tel-Tech 15 index of top technology issues slipped 0.1% to 402.58. The most-active issue was Africa-Israel Investments Ltd., a holding company for real estate, retail, energy, telecoms, media and more, up 1.4% at NIS 493, followed by Teva, which rose 1.4% to NIS 155.6. Mylan Laboratories said late on Saturday that it had definitively agreed to buy the generic-drug division of Merck KGaA of Germany for $6.7 billion. Teva had been mentioned as one of the bidders for the Merck unit, however Teva said Sunday the deal price didn't meet its investment standards. Separately, on Friday, Teva said Eisai Co.'s patent for an acid-pump inhibitor had been found enforceable by a US district court in New York. Teva, which said it has US Food & Drug Administration clearance to market a generic version, said it will appeal the court decision. Makhteshim traded up 1.6% at NIS 30.84. It reported first-quarter profit rose to $66.6 million up from $57.7m. in the year-earlier period. Sales advanced 13% to $559.3m. from $493.9m. The company said it would assess whether it needed to apply a particular accounting standard to certain options grants. If the board review determines that it should have, it will record an additional $2m. of stock-option expense for the first quarter. The sharpest drop in the TA-25 was 2.1%, to NIS 48.25, registered by Ormat Industries, parent of Ormat Technologies, the producer of geothermal power plants. Nice Systems, the producer of digital recording and archiving systems, dropped 1.5% to NIS 148.7. Leading the percentage gainers: Fertilizer producer Israel Chemicals leaped 3.6% to NIS 34.1, and foods group Strauss added 3% to NIS 52.56. Supermarket operator Supersol climbed 3.2% to NIS 18.01 as the company reported that net income quadrupled to NIS 67m. as revenue rose 26% to NIS 2.48b. The banks were lower, Hapoalim by 0.5% to NIS 23.34, Leumi by 0.4% to NIS 17.3, Discount by 1.4% to NIS 9.17, and Mizrahi Tefahot by 0.3% to NIS 33.38. MarketWatch: In-depth global business coverage


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