Real Estate firms prove good investment

Those who were lucky or wise enough to have invested in real estate in the late 1990s are now enjoying the fruits of their choices.

building for sale 88 29  (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
building for sale 88 29
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Those who were lucky or wise enough to have invested in real estate companies Alony Hetz and Gazit-Globe in the late 1990s are now enjoying the fruits of their choices, as these two companies have posted the highest yield-growths among Israel's publicly-traded companies over the last decade, according the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Meanwhile, just 10 stocks traded on the TASE, provided 10-year returns of at least double that of the benchmark TA-25 index, according to a report undertaken by Kobi Abromov, the TASE's research director. The report ranked the top 36 Israeli companies worth more than NIS 2 billion by accumulated yield growth, including dividends and price appreciation, over the last 10 years. Only five Israeli companies have consistently posted average annual growth above 30 percent, according to the study. Joining Alony-Hetz and Gazit in the top-10 were another three companies focused in large part on real estate development, including Africa-Israel Investments Ltd., The Delek Group and Elbit Medical Imaging Ltd. "Real estate developers and holding companies have done very well during the past 10 years as they have significantly increased their activities here and abroad," Abromov told The Jerusalem Post. Over the period studied from 1997 to 2006, Alony Hetz yielded a 3,572%-return, with an average yearly return of 43.4%, while Gazit's accumulated yields were 2,476% for the same period, with an average of 38.4% a year. In 2006, Gazit returned 71.8%, owing to what its Chairman Chaim Katzman called a "record year in net profit and investments." Gazit invested NIS 7.9b over the year in income producing properties and land for future development with NIS 1.7b of this amount invested directly in developing new platforms in the US, Germany, Israel and Bulgaria. Alony Hetz has holdings around the world, with its properties in Israel centered on Amot, an 80%-owned subsidiary that is one of the largest revenue-producing real estate companies in the country. Frutarom, a company that produces and markets flavor and fragrance compounds and ingredients, has yielded 1,691% since spinning off from Electrochemical Industries in 1996, placing it third on the list with an average annual yield of 33.4% over the last 10 years. Following in fourth place was The Delek Group with 1,391%) and Africa-Israel, with 1,146%. Africa-Israel capped a successful 2006, which saw its returns jump 101.5%, with the recent acquisition of the Apthorp apartment building in Manhattan for $426 million. Africa Israel's US unit owns 50% of the Upper West Side landmark and the company aims to renovate the property and resell it at a higher price. The company may also expand the 32,000 square meter building by 6,000 square meters. "The ability of these companies to maintain rapid growth year after year is testament not only to the ability of the chief executive officers to guide their companies through difficult expansion stages, but to their also being able to accurately predict and adapt to changes in the global market-place," said Ronit Harel Ben-Ze'ev, vice president of the Economic Department at the TASE. Teva Pharmaceuticals Ltd., despite having a poor year in 2006 when which actually fell nearly 35%, still finished 16th on the overall list with returns of 420% over the last 10 years while retaining a market value of more than NIS 103b., according to the TASE. Other companies that appeared on the list included Clal Insurance, The Strauss Group, Osem and Bezeq.