Baltics: Stock trading activity falls sharply

  • 2001-06-14
Trading activity fell sharply on the Baltic states' stock markets last week while key stocks posted moderate changes.

The Baltic index dropped 0.13 percent over the week to 134.86 points.

Losers outnumbered gainers eight to five on the Baltic List of 15 blue chip stocks listed on the Riga, Vilnius and Tallinn bourses. Estonia's Hansapank and the Tallinna Kaubamaja shopping chain remained unchanged over the week.

Most Latvian and Lithuanian stocks posted insignificant changes in euro terms over the week with the only changes attributable to fluctuations of the euro exchange rate against the lat and litas.

Baltic List capitalization stood virtually unchanged over the week due to insignificant stock price fluctuations and was 2.7 billion euros ($2.3 billion).

The Baltic List weekly turnover fell almost threefold from the previous week amid the absence of large deals and was just 5.6 million euros. Estonian stocks accounted for 95 percent of turnover, while Latvian and Lithuanian stocks just 2.5 percent each.

Baltic List stocks last week, as usual, dominated trade on the Tallinn Stock Exchange, providing more than 90 percent of the Tallinn bourse turnover. In Latvia the respective portion was 65 percent while in Lithuania just 15 percent.

Estonia: Calm returns to stock market

After lively trade the previous week, the Tallinn Stock Exchange cooled down in the last week. Hansapank and Eesti Telekom were the focus of the market's attention.

The stock index TALSE put on a modest 0.42 percent over the week, closing at 146.05, and the five-day turnover from 634 deals concluded was 87.6 million kroons($4.8 million), a mere one-third of the preceding week's turnover.

Estonian Baltic List stocks weekly turnover made up 83.4 million kroons, or 95 percent of the total.

The price euro index of six Estonian Baltic List shares was 0.47 percent, up to 128.22 points over the week.

Preatoni Pank trader Priit Jarviste said the past week saw the market turn back to normal after huge turnovers, the stock exchange's anniversary and optimism in the week before.

"Local investors did quite a lot of profit-taking too," Jarviste said.

"For the prices to move higher, either a very good piece of news or a newcomer with lots of cash is needed."

Jarviste explained that the large turnovers during the previous week were connected with tax optimization.

The most traded issue during the outgoing week was Hansapank with a turnover of 47.5 million kroons, closing unchanged at week's end at 160 kroons.

Nevertheless, there was some good news for Hansapank. The most important was Moody's announcement that it may upgrade its ratings and Unibanka of Latvia's following a change in the rating agency's methodology that will now permit ratings of bonds and notes of some issuers to exceed their country's ceiling.

Another good sign for Hansapank is that with the purchase of Lithuanian savings bank, Lietuvos Taupomasis Bankas, the Swedbank-controlled Hansapank acquires a market share in the Baltic states that is 5.3 percent bigger than that of banks controlled by Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken.

However, in light of the pending merger between Swedbank and SEB this news seems to offer little encouragement for Hansapank. The Lithuanian central bank has demanded that in case of a merger of Swedbank and SEB, Hansapank must sell LTB within two years. The buyer cannot be linked to Swedbank or SEB.

Eesti Telekom was up 0.67 percent to 75.50 on trading of 29.5 million kroons over the week. The stock received some support from positive moods on world markets.

Latvia: Expected gas company auction fails to boost market

Stock trading activity faded to a minimum on the Riga bourse last week and even a decision about the expected sale of state-owned shares in Latvijas Gaze through open auctions on the bourse triggered no increase in turnover.

The capitalization index DJRSE remained almost unchanged over the week at 138.57 points, standing firm thanks to the stability of blue chip stocks Latvijas Gaze, oil terminal Ventspils Nafta and the insurer Balta.

The RICI price index, meanwhile, lost 2.94 percent over the week to 156.56 points on sharp falls by the Daugavpils Pievadkezu Rupnica motor chain factory, Rigas Transporta Flote, Olainfarm and Valmieras Stikla Skiedra.

The Latvian euro price index of three Baltic List stocks dropped 0.25 percent over the week to 171.85 percent.

The bourse turnover last week was just 120,000 lats ($190,000). The three Latvian stocks on the Baltic List generated a 80,000 lat turnover or 64 percent of the total stock turnover on the Riga Stock Exchange.

Last week, transactions selling of 7.7 million lats' worth of treasury bills and government bonds was registered on the bourse.

Latvijas Gaze last week gained 0.5 percent to 3.88 lats, a new record high for the stock amid just 7,200 lats in turnover.

The decision by the Latvian Privatization Agency's council to sell 8 percent of Latvijas Gaze's shares through open auction has not created much optimism on the market for the time being although most of the brokers have said the stock may move up slightly.

Along with low liquidity the slow trade in the gas company stocks even after the news of the expected auction is attributable to the fact that Latvijas Gaze's shareholders from Russia and Germany so far have not shown much enthusiasm about the LPA's decision, which is advantageous for the Latvian state.

Both Ruhrgas and Gazprom for the time being are unwilling to pay an excessive price for the gas company's shares at an open auction and the Russian oil giant is still voicing the opinion that the Latvian state should retain 8 percent of Latvijas Gaze's shares under its control.

But the Latvian government urgently needs cash after failing to privatize the Latvian Shipping Company to "cover" budget holes.

At this point Itera Latvija, the Latvian subsidiary of the Russian gas corporation Itera, has announced its wish to join the auction. But Itera may face difficulties in joining the auction; after the replacement of Gazprom's management the business relations between the two Russian gas firms, most likely, will change dramatically and not for the best.

It is difficult to state at this point how these relations will affect relations between Gazprom, Itera and Latvijas Gaze but there are grounds to expect strange developments.

Ventspils Nafta was the turnover leader last week, with the stock price standing firm at 0.6 lats.

Ventspils Nafta got good news last week with the signing of the long-awaited agreement on the oil terminal's privatization adviser - a consortium formed by investment bank Raiffessen Investment AG.

But even if Ventspils Nafta stocks post certain gains sometime soon they will likely be small because negative outside factors remain. Russia's efforts to lessen dependence on Ventspils were once again stressed in an international transit conference June 7-8 in Riga.

Lithuania: Bourse sees another lackluster week

A lackluster mood persisted on the Lithuanian stock exchange in the outgoing week. Most stocks closed amid modest turnover, with only the oil concern Mazeikiu Nafta and blue-chip Lietuvos Telekomas attracting more attention from investors.

The bourse's benchmark price index Litin-10 retreated 1.03 percent to 1031.48 points. The blue chip official list index Litin closed down 1.26 percent to 370.73 points and the broad index Litin-G was off 1.10 percent to 917.38 points.

The price-euro index of six Lithuanian Baltic List stocks lost 0.68 percent to 123 points over the week.

Trading last week was even more quiet than usual. The bourse's weekly equity turnover reached only 3.2 million litas ($800,000), of which 500,000 litas or 15 percent was generated through Baltic List trading.

Also T-bill turnover was relatively low last week, reaching just 3.4 million litas.

On the official list, Lietuvos Telekomas ended 1.16 percent down at 1.71 litas in trades worth 32,500 litas. Another 254,400 litas' worth of shares in Telekomas changed hands via block trades.

Cheese maker Rokiskio Suris closed flat at 18 litas on 55,600 litas in turnover. Brewery Kalnapilis climbed 1.20 litas to 4.20 litas with 19,600 litas' worth of shares traded. TV-tube maker Ekranas sank 4.76 percent on profit-taking to 6 litas in trade worth 13,900 litas.

Refrigerator maker Snaige was stable at 35 litas on a turnover of 4,400 litas. Shares in knitwear manufacturer Utenos Trikotazas were not traded at all last week.

On the current list, oil concern Mazeikiu Nafta slid 1.64 percent to 0.60 litas in trades worth 47,500 litas, generating the largest turnover on the market.

Vilniaus Vingis slid 1.91 percent to 4.61 litas in trades worth 59,600 litas. The gas company Lietuvos Dujos climbed 1.42 percent to 1.43 litas amid a 50,600 litas turnover.

After the close of trading on June 4, the dairy Zemaitijos Pienas announced that the company would pay 6.56 litas per share this year in order to prevent possible manipulation of the share selling price. This price represents a premium of 15 percent over Zemaitijos Pienas' weighed average price on the NSEL in 2000, it said.

Following the announcement, the dairy dropped 37.52 percent to 6.56 litas, the price for a planned share buyback this year. Romas Jarulaitis, deputy managing director of Zemaitijos Pienas, said the company started the buy-back early this week.

Lithuanian savings bank Lietuvos Taupomasis Bankas' shares moved in the opposite direction. LTB climbed 2.60 percent to 9.85 litas as investors reacted to Hansapank's buyout offer of LTB's outstanding shares.

LTB generated a turnover of 21,300 litas on the central market.