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Gains by highly capitalized Hansapank and the natural gas company Latvijas Gaze were balanced by losses in Eesti Telekom and oil terminal Ventspils Nafta, with the Baltic List capitalization index gaining only 0.5 percent to 2.45 billion euros ($2.18 billion).
The aggregate trading turnover of Baltic List stocks rose slightly from the previous week, to 7.98 million euros. Estonian shares accounted for 67.2 percent of the total turnover, Lithuanian shares 22 percent, and the Latvian turnover reached 10.8 percent of the total.
Baltic List shares held dominating positions on the Estonian and Latvian stock markets covering, respectively, 91 percent and 85 percent, while Lithuanian stocks provided only 12 percent of the total.
Estonia: Hansapank looks good in banking portfolio
In a week which saw the price of EVP privatization vouchers at their highest levels for the past nine months, trading in other issues showed no decisive price leadership. The TALSE index climbed 0.72 percent to 136.61. The week's 732 deals generated a turnover of nearly 92 million kroons ($5.21 million).
Hansapank's shares were the most traded, at 50.9 million kroons' volume, as its price climbed 3.09 percent to 147 kroons. "Throughout the week, there was buying interest in Hansapank stock, and the price crossed the 150 kroon level," Trigon Markets trader Kristel Kivinurm said. The trader said shares in Hansapank were attractively priced within the Central and Eastern European banking sector.
Shares in Eesti Telekom fell by 1.8 percent to 68.25 kroons on a turnover of 28.7 million kroons. "Shares in Eesti Telekom showed their vulnerability, falling in the wake of Central and Eastern European telecoms," the trader said. Another factor fueling speculative activity around the shares was last week's decision by the Estonian Communication Board declaring Eesti Telekom as having significant market power in both the fixed and mobile communication spheres. Despite some weakness immediately following the decision, some brokers believe that in the long run, this ruling will prove to be positive. Next week promises more of the same for Telekom.
Some analysts are worrying about the potential consequences of Eesti Telekom's decision to raise its monthly fees for private customers starting in the new year, fearing that such a decision might lead to a substantial decrease in market share for the company.
Investors are keeping an eye on foreign markets as well. "Central and Eastern European telecoms have had their rising trends broken, so the next week will be a difficult one for Telekom," Kivinurm commented.
The price of EVP privatization vouchers made a big jump, soaring 9.63 percent to 0.66 kroons on a turnover of 3.6 million kroons. The last time the price was at such a high level was in early March. "The price of EVP vouchers rose, finding support at the 0.63 kroon level," Kivinurm said. The broker said that EVP vouchers would find plenty of buyers every time they came up for sale.
Latvia: Indexes steady on higher volumes
The Latvian stock market saw trading activity up from the previous week although most of the turnover came through block deals. The fall in value of oil terminal Ventspils Nafta shares was compensated for by a rise in Latvijas Gaze shares, leaving the Latvian Baltic index relatively unchanged.
The Dow Jones Riga Stock Exchange capitalization index was down 0.07 percent to 176.76, while the RICI price index was up 0.71 percent to 154.71. The three Latvian Baltic List stocks fell only 0.4 percent in euro prices to the 188.87 level.
The Riga stock market turnover reached 1.13 million lats ($1.79 million), with much of it in Ventspils Nafta shares. The oil transit company's shares fell 4.34 percent to 0.66 lats on a turnover of 962,000 lats, mainly in block deals.
Ventspils Nafta shares came under pressure from several directions, including low world oil prices, the expected launch of the new Russian Primorsk shipping terminal and increased global pressure on Russia to reduce its oil exports. The Russian government's decision to raise fuel oil exports in December is positive news, as a portion of this should clearly be headed Ventspils' way.
Latvijas Gaze shares gained 1.7 percent to 6 lats each on turnover of 23,330 lats. The gain could be attributed to the announcement of a 10 percent increase in company turnover planned for next year
Other events for the week involved a block deal with shares in confectionery company Staburadze, turning over 93,317 lats, although these shares remain delisted and inaccessible to official bourse trading.
Weekly turnover from the rest of Latvian stocks did not exceed 20,000 lats. The fiberglass company Valmieras SS continued its fall from the previous week, down an additional 7.5 percent, to 0.49 lats. Its recent climb to 0.60 lats per share seems related to shareholders having increased their holdings just prior to the shareholders' meeting.
Shares in the shipyard company Rigas KB fell back 5 percent to 0.19 lats. Apparently, the company's intentions to increase its share capital has not been well received by shareholders.
Lithuania: Market higher as investors focus on Telekomas
Ignoring market heavyweight Lietuvos Telekomas, which closed flat, investors pushed most other shares on Lithuanian exchanges to higher levels. The bourse's Litin price index rose 2.16 percent to 314.35, the Litin-G gained 2.22 percent to close at 858.46, and the Litin-10 advanced 4.07 percent to 1,165.15. Calculated in euros, the price index of the six Lithuanian Baltic List shares gained 1.55 percent, ending at 143.09.
The week's total equity turnover came to 25.33 million litas ($6.33 million). There was a large amount of block deals in secondary list shares.
Telekomas led trade on the central market in terms of turnover. The telecommunication company strengthened at 1.21 litas in trade worth 1.38 million litas. Another 122,000 litas' worth of shares in Telekomas changed hands through block trades.
"You could say that because of the small fluctuations in Telekomas' share price, the end of November was a bad time for speculators - it was impossible to earn on the rises and dips in the share price, as brokers' commissions wiped out any trading profits. But the month was good to larger investors, those who wanted to sell or add to their existing portfolios," Aurelijus Rimkus, broker at the financial brokerage firm Finasta, said.
Dairy Rokiskio Suris benefitted from brisk trade. The stock climbed 3.37 percent to 31.01 litas, its highest level over the past 52 weeks, on a turnover of 482,500 litas. Some 73,300 litas' worth of shares changed hands in block trades. "I think we should get some news affecting this company, but what it might be is hard to say. It's getting harder and harder to predict what will happen with one or another dairy producer's shares," Rimkus admitted.
Secondary listed dairies were gaining ground as well. Pieno Zvaigzdes soared 8.28 percent to 1.57 litas amid a turnover of 160,300 litas; Zemaitijos Pienas rallied 15.38 percent to 12 litas in trade worth 40,700 litas and Panevezio Pienas was ahead 0.63 percent to 1.60 litas with 26,400 litas' worth of shares traded.
"It is difficult to explain the rise of dairy stocks, as there seems to be no big news. Someone may have undisclosed information, or investors may be expecting a boost in the dairy industry and a further rise in share prices, or it may just be an artificial increase of share prices," said Martynas Kulvinskas, head of the securities trading unit at the land bank Zemes Ukio Bankas.
Brokers attributed Pieno Zvaigzdes' rally to managements' intentions to file a request for inclusion of the company's shares in the official list.
Knitwear maker Utenos Trikotazas jumped 4.97 percent to 3.59 litas amid a turnover of 16,700 litas; brewer Kalnapilis edged 0.17 percent higher to 6.05 litas in trade worth 52,700 litas; TV tube manufacturer Ekranas rocketed up 18 percent to 5.90 litas with 22,800 litas' worth of shares traded.
On the current list, Lietuvos Dujos led trade in terms of turnover. The natural gas company climbed 4.17 percent to 2 litas on a turnover of 915,100 litas. Lietuvos Dujos shares are thought to have been bought by investors related to shareholders in the company, now undergoing privatization, Kulvinskas said.
The maritime transport company Klaipedos Transporto Laivynas roared ahead by 50 percent to 0.36 litas on a turnover of 55,200 litas. Rimkus said government plans to privatize the company at the same time Lietuvos Dujos is to be privatized, in spring of 2002, has sparked some interest among investors.
On the last day of November, some 4,748,640 shares in Klaipeda Stevedoring Company, representing 37.48 percent of the authorized capital, changed hands via a single block deal for 21.36 million litas. The buyer paid 4.50 litas per share with a nominal value of 10 litas.