Stocks end higher as rally continues

  • 2001-11-29
  • Boris Epsteins
Most of the largest capitalization Baltic states' blue chip stocks maintained their assault on higher share prices, though the pace of their charge was somewhat subdued compared with a week earlier. The Baltic index of the 14 most capitalized Baltic blue chips rose 0.81 percent to 143.63, with gainers outnumbering losers eight to six.

Gains by Eesti Telekom and the natural gas company Latvijas Gaze acted to offset the falling prices of Hansapank and Lietuvos Telekomas, leaving the Baltic List capitalization mostly unchanged at 2.44 billion euros ($2.15 billion). The Baltic List stocks' turnover was 6.26 million euros, down from 7.46 million euros a week earlier. Of the total turnover, Estonian stocks accounted for 72.5 percent, Lithuanian 27 percent while Latvian stocks contributed a mere 0.6 percent to the final.

The Baltic List stocks dominated trade on their home bourses in Estonia and Lithuania, generating 92 percent and over 60 percent of share turnovers, respectively. In Latvia, meanwhile, the Baltic List stocks accounted for just 25 percent of the Riga Stock Exchange's total weekly turnover.

Estonia: Stocks up slightly amid good indicators

Traders on the Tallinn Stock Exchange enjoyed a rather relaxed atmosphere early in the week, as market activity started to pick up only toward week's end; Eesti Telekom was the most traded issue. The TALSE index closed at 135.64, up by 0.27 percent, with aggregate turnover from 653 deals reaching 76.8 million kroons ($4.3 million). Calculated in euros, the price index of the five Estonian Baltic List shares gained 1.12 percent to 119.29.

"On the whole, rather positive moods prevailed last week, and there was buying interest among both local and foreign investors," Trigon Markets trader Kristel Kivinurm said. "Hansapank saw no buying interest at the start of the week, which brought the price down, but buyers turned up in the second half of the week," she said. The shares ended 2.33 percent lower at 142.60 kroons on a turnover of 27.9 million kroons.

"The Eesti Telekom shares this week made up for the rise which East and Central European telecoms had enjoyed earlier," the broker observed. There were both foreign and local investors on the buying side, she added. Telekom posted gains of 2.58 percent for the five days, finishing at 69.50 kroons on a turnover of 28.7 million kroons.

"Norma served up a surprise by being the object of keen buying interest throughout the week amid solid turnovers," Kivinurm noted. The car seatbelt maker climbed 3.53 percent to close at 52.80 by the weekend, with 10.4 million kroons' worth of the shares changing hands. "The minor shares were likewise bought fairly briskly, Merko and Saku in particular caught the eye," the broker said. "Due to poor liquidity and a lack of sellers, buying interest has taken the price of Kalev shares to the highest level in more than three years." Kalev moved up 2.27 percent, ending at 22.50 kroons, its highest closing price since Oct. 20, 1998. The turnover from the 11 deals concluded during the week was 250,000 kroons.

Last week's most pleasant surprises were the 10.3 percent growth in industrial output recorded for October and the upgrading of Estonia's sovereign rating, Kivinurm said.

Latvia: Small gains in light trading

Most Latvian shares posted gains on small turnovers. The price index RICI swelled 3.45 percent over the week to 153.62 while the capitalization index DJRSE rose 1.37 percent to 176.89. Calculated in euros, the price index of Latvian stocks traded on the Baltic List gained 1.08 percent to 189.63. The weekly stock turnover on the Riga bourse was just 96,780 lats ($152,649).

Transactions with shares in candy maker Staburadze showed the largest trading activity, at 30,920 lats in turnover, while the printing company Kvadraprint had trade worth 32,175 lats in turnover.

Interest in Latvijas Gaze subsided, though the weekly turnover of 15,921 lats is not an appropriate indicator considering the current gloomy situation on the Latvian stock market. Share prices rose 1.72 percent to 5.9 lats each, as investors await the auction to sell the state's remaining shares in exchange for privatization vouchers. Evidently, the possibility of lower Russian gas prices, in the wake of lower world fuel oil prices, is of advantage for Latvijas Gaze - this even if Latvijas Gaze is not permitted to raise its rates, as they will most probably not be forced to reduce rates either; this creates virtually a win-win situation for the company in which margins are expected to increase in any case.

More good news for Latvijas Gaze shareholders came in the form of specific plans from Russia concerning construction of an undersea natural gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea, which could include the Incukalns underground natural gas storage facility. This facility is owned by Latvijas Gaze.

For the other stocks traded on the central market, turnover did not exceed 5,000 lats. With almost no interest in the oil terminal Ventspils Nafta, the stock stood unchanged at 0.69 lats per share amid just 4,475 lats in turnover. Russia's announcement admitting to insignificant cuts in its oil exports, by 50,000 barrels a day, is unlikely to have a big effect on Ventspils Nafta's transit business. It would require much more substantial cutting to threaten the company's prospects.

Shares in the shipyard Rigas Kugubuvetava swelled 5.26 percent to 0.2 lats. Lloyd's listing agency last week published the findings of research, ordered by the European Commission, which show the ship building industry in Latvia as having good prospects after accession to the European Union, due to expected increasing investment in the industry.

Shares in the transport fleet Rigas Transporta Flote saw the largest gains, in percentage terms, rocketing up 40 percent to 0.07 lats. Kvadraprint shot up 28.57 percent to 0.09 lats and pharmaceuticals Olainfarm surged 11.11 percent to 0.1 lats.

Lithuania: Snaige leads market activity

Lithuanian refrigerator manufacturer Snaige took center stage on the national stock exchange, with weekly turnover reaching over 1 million litas ($250,000). Market players said that only one or two deals for Snaige accounted for the majority of turnover.

The bourse's Litin index declined 0.52 percent to 307.70, the Litin-G rose 0.47 percent to 839.83, and the Litin-10 climbed 1.14 percent to 1,119.56. Calculated in euros, the price index of the six Lithuanian Baltic List stocks gained 0.42 percent to 140.90. Total share turnover on the Lithuanian bourse came to 9.27 million litas.

On the official list, Snaige share prices were almost unchanged at 37.97 litas, with trading volume on the central exchange worth 3.85 million litas. Four transactions were responsible for the lion's share of turnover in Snaige, which market players designated as block trades, performed on the central exchange, which allowed them to keep their identity secret.

Word on the street has it that the company Snavesta, controlled by the fund management company Hermis Fondu Valdymas, might be planning to increase by 50 percent its existing stake in Snaige. Some thought the company itself could be buying up the shares, a buyback plan which shareholders have allowed the company to do up to the amount of 10 percent of total share equity.

Lietuvos Telekomas saw turnover of 1.2 million litas on the central exchange, with its price dropping 0.82 percent to 1.21 litas. Brokers said demand for Telekomas shares has been significantly up recently and that the low price is attractive to investors, though a large number of sellers, most likely one or several large foreign investors pulling out of Lithuania, are keeping a lid on share prices.

Rokiskio Suris, the cheese maker and dairy producer, had a turnover of 167,300 litas with its share price rising 1.73 percent, to around 30.00 litas. The brewer Kalnapilis saw its share price stable at 6.04 litas with a turnover of 152,500 litas.

On the current list the prime mover was shipper Lisco Baltic Service, turning over 157,100 litas while the share price sank 3.13 percent to 0.31 litas. Brokers said the upcoming announcement of results, and rumors that the company might be reorganized into a closed company by its controlling shareholder, Denmark's DFDS Tor Line, thereby reducing its number of shareholders to an even 100, was driving investor activity.

In block trading, shares in insurer Lietuvos Draudimas changed hands for 1,698,000 litas, Siauliu Stumbras for 865,800 litas and garment manufacturer Utenos Trikotazas for 608,000 litas.