• 1999-10-28
Estonia: Share prices swing wildly

Share prices on the Tallinn Stock Exchange seesawed according to investors' changing moods in the outgoing week, but by week's end emotions abated and calm was restored to the trading floor. The TALSE index closed at 96.84 points, down by 2.88 percent from last Friday. "The week was a nervous one with a great deal of up and down movement," Uhispank broker Mart Helmja said. The movements were of short duration, the broker observed. "Nobody had a clear-cut vision, nobody supported the market on the buying or the selling side," he said.

The start-of-the-week decline on European and American markets set the tone for trading in Tallinn as well, the broker added. Regardless of the good economic results published on Monday, Norma was the week's biggest loser with a drop of 16.18 percent. The shares closed Friday at 29 kroons ($2.01). Some investors may have regarded Norma's council reshuffle as sufficient grounds for selling. "Norma set the seal on the whole bourse week," Helmja said, referring to expectations of additional information about the sale of shares to Sweden's Autoliv. The firm reported a net turnover of 344.1 million kroons and net profit of 85.3 million kroons for the January-September period.

No surprises from Hansapank Group, as consolidated results for the nine months - a profit of 575 million kroons - matched market expectations. Hansapank nonetheless fell more than two percent, ending the week at 76.50 kroons. Thursday brought the announcement of Tallinna Kulmhoone's merger with Lithuania's Kauno Pieno Centras. The new entity will be the region's largest ice-cream producer with an anticipated annual turnover of 500 million kroons.

The outgoing week's most-traded share was Hansapank with a turnover of 24.3 million kroons. Norma accounted for 14.8 million kroons of the exchange system's aggregate turnover of 53.1 million kroons. EVP privatization vouchers were also quite briskly traded, totaling 3.3 million kroons. The supplementary-list EMV generated 1.4 million kroons.

Helmja said it is difficult to tell if next week will bring back increased activity to the stock market, which Friday succumbed to a lack of interest.

Latvia: Trading volume down

Trading on the Riga Stock Exchange dropped to critically low levels following publication of nine-month results, with average daily turnover below $50,000. The bourse's indexes moved in opposite directions. The DJRSE cap-weighted index rose 1.31 percent, to 76.31 points, due to strong gains by Ventspils Nafta and fiberglass manufacturer Valmieras Stikla Skiedra. But the RICI index finished the week down 0.92 percent at 159.91 points.

The biggest gainer for the week was Ventspils Nafta, jumping 7.3 percent to 0.44 lats ($0.77). It was followed closely by Valmieras Stikla Skiedra with a 7.1 percent gain to 0.45 lats. The gain in Ventspils Nafta's share price was a surprise to analysts given that the company had forecast its reloading of Russian crude and oil products would drop by three times in the fourth quarter from the level at the beginning of the year.

The jump in Valmieras Stikla Skiedra was driven by the positive announcement of the company's nine-month results, giving hope that its annual earnings forecast may be exceeded.

Despite good nine-month results, Unibanka's share price slid 1.08 percent to 0.92 lats. Besides the deepening conflict with the new owners of the Tolaram Fibers complex, Unibanka's share price is also hurt by a lack of good macroeconomic news. Poor corporate performance could weaken the banks' future results as well.

Despite the fact that companies will continue to announce results in the coming weeks, few analysts expect surprises or a boost in trading levels. Suprema analyst Reinis Ceplis believes the market has stabilized at its current level and investors can sit back for a while before better times arrive. Just how long investors will need to sit and wait Ceplis doesn't say, and probably doesn't know.

Lithuania: Damage minimal in government crisis

Last week saw slow trading on the Lithuanian National Stock Exchange, as investors shrugged off a government crisis. The blue-chip Litin index fell 2.22 percent, while the Litin-10 index was down just 0.80 percent at 1252.50 points. "Nothing interesting happened on the bourse. After a little bit of lively trading the previous week, investors have adopted wait-and-see positions," said Suprema broker Arvydas Jacikevicius.

On the official list trading was most active in Bankas Hermis shares. The shares slid 0.84 percent to 124 litas ($31) on a central market turnover of 426,100 litas. "With the official offer, now buying Hermis shares is like buying an obligation which can be sold with minimal commission to Vilniaus Bankas," said Finasta analyst Aurelijus Rimkus.

Vilniaus Bankas' shares slid 3.67 percent to 23.59 litas on a central market turnover of 301,100 litas.

Snaige refrigerator maker's shares climbed 3.14 percent to 36.10 litas on a central market turnover of 219,800 litas, most of it traded on Friday.

Mazeikiai Nafta was the only issue showing a reaction to the government crisis, most likely because this is where the crisis erupted. Its shares plunged 13.16 percent Tuesday after Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas announced he would not sign the deal selling Mazeikiai Nafta to the U.S. oil company Williams International, and two ministers resigned in protest of the government's going ahead with the deal anyway. The oil complex's shares rebounded by 13.64 percent the following day after President Adamkus and the ruling Conservative Party were set on signing the deal. But on Thursday the company's shares dropped by 5.33 percent. They were unchanged in trading Friday, ending the week down 5.33 percent.

Shares in Ukio Bankas dropped 9.88 percent to 11.77 litas. Central market turnover of the bank's shares totaled just 274,200 litas. In direct deals 889,200 litas of shares were traded.

Turnover on the bourse totaled 31 million litas with 1.96 million litas trading on the central market.