Teva leads TA-25 higher as Citi names drug giant 'top pick'

Israeli stocks gained Tuesday, paced by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., named a top stock pick by analysts at Citigroup Inc.

SHARES TEL AVIV Israeli stocks gained Tuesday, paced by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. The world's largest producer of generic drugs was named a top stock pick by analysts at Citigroup Inc. The benchmark TA-25 Stock Index added 1.84, or 0.2 percent, to 940.54, the highest since January 4. Ten stocks gained, 14 declined and one was unchanged. Investors bought and sold about NIS 1.49 billion in shares and convertibles. Teva climbed NIS 2, or 1.4%, to NIS 147.50, bringing its advance this year to 13%. Andrew Howell and Geoffrey Dennis, Citigroup analysts in New York, said Teva was one of their favorite stocks for 2007. "Teva is facing possibly the best drug launch prospects in its history," the analysts wrote in a report. "We expect earnings to accelerate." Shares of Teva were also pushed higher after Dr. Reddy's Laboratories Ltd., India's third-largest drugmaker, said profit almost tripled in the third quarter. "The stock has been performing very well from the beginning of the year and we had some good results from Reddy that have also helped," said Richard Gussow, an analyst at Excellence Nessuah Securities & Investments Ltd. in Ramat Gan. Africa Israel Investments Ltd. rose NIS 5.90, or 1.9%, to NIS 310.20, climbing for a third straight day. Africa Israel agreed Monday to form a venture to bid for a contract to run and maintain a toll road north of Manila. Aladdin Knowledge Systems Ltd. lost NIS 3.65, or 4.7%, to NIS 74.46. The computer security company reported fourth-quarter diluted earnings per share of 24 cents, down from 25 cents last year. "There is no good news here," Sergey Vastchenok, head of research at CIBC World Markets in Tel Aviv, said by phone. "Most of the upside in the fourth quarter came from the traditional activity of program protection, and not from data protection, which is the company's main growth engine." Ceragon Networks Ltd. advanced NIS 0.78, or 3.1%, to NIS 25.80. The maker of broadband wireless systems received another order for its new FibeAir 1500P product from the Israel Air Force, valued at $1m., the company said in a statement to the stock exchange. Jerusalem Economic Corp. added NIS 2.22, or 3.4%, to NIS 67.19. Units of the real estate company, which own 17 buildings in France, will refinance the properties, taking out a larger loan and repaying their parent company 60m. euros. VeriFone Holdings Inc. jumped NIS 5, or 3.2%, to NIS 163.70. The US-Israeli maker of electronic-payment equipment said its payment system was selected by the Multifunctional Processing Co. for use in the Federal State Enterprise Russian Post. WALL STREET US stocks were higher, seeing a rebound from Monday, which saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average lose well over 100 points and the Nasdaq Composite drop by over 1%, before recovering some ground just before the close. The Dow was up 42 points, or 0.3% at 12,519 in midday trade while the S&P 500 rose 5 points to 1,428, and the Nasdaq Composite Index added 10 points to 2,441. EUROPE European shares traded in the red Tuesday. The pan-European Dow Jones Stoxx 600 index lost 0.2% to 371.89, the UK's FTSE 100 index declined 0.3% at 6,202.50, the German DAX Xetra 30 index lost 0.5% to 6,653.47, and the French CAC-40 index dropped 0.4% to 5,556.73. ASIA Share indexes ended mixed to lower around the region. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index ended the session 0.1% lower, falling 15.61 points to 17,408.57, while the broader-market Topix index rose 0.02% to 1,730.76. CURRENCY The British pound rallied to a 14-year high against the dollar. The dollar came under broad selling pressure, touching a two-week low against the euro. In New York trading, the euro stood at $1.3037, compared with $1.2947 late Monday. The dollar was quoted at 121.32 yen, compared with 121.62 yen. The British pound traded at $1.9886, compared with $1.9759. It had earlier touched an intraday high of $1.9915. COMMODITIES Crude for March delivery was up 97 cents at $53.55 a barrel midday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold for February delivery traded up $10.20 at $644.30 an ounce. (News Agencies)