Large block deals in shares of Estonia's Hansapank and Lithuania's Utenos Trikotazas brought the Baltic List weekly turnover to double from the week earlier, to 17.4 million euros. The Baltic List stocks prevailed on local markets in all three Baltic states, generating over 80 percent of total stock market trading on their respective home bourses.
Estonia: Hansapank leads in week of strong gains
Hansapank was the uncontested leader amid active trade on the Tallinn Stock Exchange for the last week. The TALSE index put on 5 percent to end at 160.65. Calculated in euros, the price index of the five Estonian Baltic List stocks gained 2.81 percent to 130.46, hitting an all-time record of 131.64 on January 24.
The week's turnover totaled 189 million kroons ($10.5 million), marking the briskest trade for any separate week since May 2000. "The bourse saw a positive and promising week with solid growth in turnovers," Preatoni Bank trader Priit Jarviste said. "Norma released fine economic results," he added. Norma posted a 2001 profit of 17.8 million kroons, slightly above expectations. The shares gained 2.93 percent to 59.7 kroons amid 17.5 million kroons in turnover.
Buying interest in Hansapank sent shares to their highest levels in more than four years. Share prices ended up 6.19 percent, at 184.50 kroons on trade of 139 million kroons. "If the Hansapank share can be made attractive to foreign investors and if the economic results due out in February are good, the price may continue moving up," Jarviste said. The upward movement will stop not because of the rise being too big but because the results would not justify it, the broker predicted.
Eesti Telekom posted a gain of 5.07 percent, closing at 77.75 kroons amid a turnover of 28.3 million kroons.
At the start of last week, Finland's leading securities brokerage Mandatum applied for remote membership on the Tallinn Stock Exchange, followed a few days later by Nordea Securities. "Members of the Finnish stock exchange have shown interest in trading in Estonian stocks, which gives Estonian investors confidence that there's interest in Estonian shares from the West," Jarviste observed.
Latvia: Latvijas Gaze takes markets lower
As the public offering period for shares in the gas company Latvijas Gaze, to be sold against privatization vouchers, is coming to a close, the stock has been met with weak pricing, in turn dragging down Latvian share exchange indexes with it.
The Dow Jones Riga Stock Exchange capitalization index dropped 3.37 percent to 192.69 and the price index RICI was down 0.13 percent to 172.99. Calculated in euros, the Latvian index of Baltic List stocks skidded 3.39 percent to 256.54. The weekly stock market turnover was 145,000 lats ($226,000).
Latvijas Gaze shed 4.5 percent of its share value, to 6.40 lats, on trade of 112,000 lats. Analysts said the trend is due to the upcoming expiry of the public offering period for the shares. Latvijas Unibanka analysts do not rule out the possibility that the high share prices have been manipulated, with the purpose of influencing demand for the stock during the public offering period.
If this is so, Latvijas Gaze shares are bound to decline, and holders of privatization vouchers, who have already submitted their bids in the public offering, probably will not receive the large profits expected by selling their holdings on the market. Latvijas Unibanka analysts have consistently warned potential investors that Latvijas Gaze stock may be overpriced.
Oil terminal Ventspils Nafta was flat at 0.67 lats per share on a turnover of 14,200 lats. The stock's run, since mid-January, came to an abrupt halt last week as Russia made public its plans to build a new pipeline to its Primorsk port which will deliver oil products for export. The new pipeline will be built parallel to the existing oil main leading to Primorsk, thus allowing for considerable reductions in cost.
Moreover, as oil product exports through a pipeline involve much lower costs than transportation by railway, the Ventspils terminal is bound to suffer increased damage to its business prospects once the new pipeline enters operation. The Russian government's decision in putting off, for at least six months, the levelling of railway rates for shipments transported among Baltic and Russian ports also does not help to instill optimism in Ventspils Nafta investors.
Lithuania: Utenos Trikotazas steals show
Despite impressive trading volumes, trade turned bearish on the Lithuanian stock market last week, with blue chip Lietuvos Telekomas and refrigerator maker Snaige at the center of focus. Knitwear manufacturer Utenos Trikotazas generated a stunning turnover of 10 million litas ($2.5 million) amid a share buyback.
The bourse's benchmark price index Litin-10 edged down 0.77 percent to 1168.57, while the broad index Litin-G moved up 0.45 percent to 875.58 and the blue chip index Litin rose 1.89 percent to 320.83. Calculated in euros, the price index of the six Lithuanian Baltic List stocks gained a solid 6.63 percent to 140.71.
Listed on the blue chip official list, Utenos Trikotazas surged 48.57 percent to 3.12 litas on a turnover of 17.04 million litas, of which 9.56 million litas were generated on January 25. According to BNS, most of Utenos Trikotazas' shares were acquired by the company itself after shareholders approved on January 24 the buyback scheme for 10 percent of outstanding shares. The minimum buying price had been set at 2.5 litas and the maximum price at 5 litas. The company will set aside a reserve of 11.6 million litas for this purpose. On January 21, 2,494,460 shares in the knitwear maker, representing 6.35 percent of the authorized capital, changed hands for 7.4 million litas at a price of 3 litas apiece.Blue chip Lietuvos Telekomas closed 0.83 percent lower at 1.20 litas on a turnover of 625,800 litas. Brokers said Telekomas' share price was pulled down by increased selling pressure - it seems that a major foreign investor continues to sell off holdings, pulling out of the Lithuanian market.
Refrigerator maker Snaige closed 1.35 percent higher at 37.50 litas amid a turnover of 508,400 litas.
Another 207,700 litas' worth of shares in Snaige changed owners via block deals.
Dairy producer Pieno Zvaigzdes firmed at 1.55 litas in trade worth 77,800 litas; brewery Kalnapilis rose 0.49 percent to 6.14 litas amid a turnover of 37,200 litas; TV-tube producer Ekranas dipped 0.90 percent to 5.50 litas in trade worth 28,000 litas; cheese maker Rokiskio Suris eased 0.16 percent to 31 litas in trade worth 26,300 litas.
On the current list, ferry operator Lisco Baltic Service generated the largest turnover.
It plunged 6.98 percent to 0.40 litas on a turnover of 250,400 litas. Electronic component maker Vilniaus Vingis drifted 0.47 percent lower to 4.20 litas in trade worth 159,900 litas.
The NSEL board announced January 25 that shares in Vilniaus Vingis would be included on the blue chip official list starting Feb. 1, 2002.