Estonian and Lithuanian stocks fall, Latvian stocks surge

  • 2002-05-09
  • Boris Epsteins
Most of the stocks on the Baltic List fell this week, and the list's capitalization after a short break again fell below the benchmark of 3 billion euros ($2.75 billion).

The Baltic index of 13 Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian blue chips priced in euros fell 2.01 percent to 167.13 points as losers outnumbered gainers 10 to three.

Baltic List capitalization fell 3.25 percent to 2.97 billion euros from 3.07 billion euros a week before.

The weekly turnover of Baltic List stocks shrank to 4.99 million euros from 10.4 million euros, the large reduction due partly to a shorter business week because of the national holiday of May 1 in all three countries.

Estonian stocks contributed 75 percent of the Baltic List's turnover while Latvian and Lithuanian stocks each brought in 12.5 percent on average.

The Baltic List stocks dominated the local markets in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, generating over 65 percent of all stock market turnover on their respective home bourses.

From a strategic perspective, the Baltic stock markets may find good news in the announcement by Finland's HEX stock exchange about a possible merger with the Scandinavian NOREX alliance uniting the Swedish, Norwegian and Danish stock markets.

The formation of a Scandinavian-Baltic stock exchange could improve the liquidity of Baltic stocks in the future.

On the Tallinn bourse, investors were relatively passive and the leading stocks mostly moved down. The TALSE index ended 2.7 percent down at 186.16 points, and the Estonian Baltic List index went down 1.24 percent to 147.73 points.

The turnover of the short four-day week was just 60.8 million kroons ($3.5 million), from 349 deals. Baltic List shares contributed 58.5 million kroons or 96 percent of the total.

The last day of the week saw an absolutely lackluster trading session, with trading activity at its lowest ebb since Jan. 2 - at just 5.4 million kroons.

Last week's leader in turnover was Hansapank, generating 47.4 million kroons, which accounted for 78 percent of the aggregate turnover. The share lost 2.66 percent of its value, finishing at 217.80 kroons.

Eesti Telekom goes ex-dividend in about four weeks. The company will be paying dividends of 5.5 kroons per share.

The car safety-equipment maker Norma fared better than the other key stocks, closing 0.44 percent lower over the week at 70.10 kroons with 6.1 million kroons in turnover.

In Latvia, upward movement by most high-liquidity stocks was in discord with the negative trends prevailing on world stock markets as well as in neighboring Lithuania and Estonia.

All Latvian stock exchange indexes rose, due mostly to gains by stocks quoted on the official list. The Dow Jones Riga Stock Exchange capitalization index jumped 2.46 percent to 189.27 points, and the RICI price index rose 0.91 percent to 216.42 points.

The Latvian index of Baltic List stock prices in euros also rose 2.53 percent, to 247.11 points.

The weekly stock market turnover was 461,313 lats ($732,243), of which the Baltic List stocks contributed 392,852 lats or 85 percent.

Latvijas Gaze climbed 2.39 percent to 6 lats per share. Suprema investment bank analysts noted less offers of the company's shares on the market and, consequently, a fivefold reduction in turnover from the preceding week.

Trade was lackluster on the Lithuanian stock market. Market heavyweight Lietuvos Telekomas emerged as the best performer in terms of turnover, but following a shareholders' meeting it headed southward, in line with traders' forecasts. Other stocks also lost ground in dull trading.

The bourse's benchmark price index Litin-10 drifted 2.41 percent lower to 1,160.30 points, the blue chip index Litin slumped 7.37 percent to 329.16 points, and the broad index Litin-G fell 2.93 percent to 1,060.30 points. The price index of Lithuanian Baltic List shares went down 5.09 percent to 142.42 points.

Trading on Lithuania's Baltic List securities generated 1.95 million litas ($510,470), or 65 percent of the weekly equity turnover of 3 million litas.

On the blue chip official list, Lietuvos Telekomas closed 9.15 percent lower at 1.29 litas in trade worth 754,800 litas. The bulk of the weekly trading volume was generated on April 29.

The slump did not come as a surprise, given Lietuvos Telekomas' announcement of lower-than-expected first-quarter results and a lower dividend for 2001, compared to the previous year.

The company's shareholders approved a proposal to pay a dividend of 7.81 centas per share (after 29 percent income tax) from the company's 2001 earnings.

Refrigerator producer Snaige skidded down 3.85 percent to 50 litas with 72,700 litas, worth of shares traded. Another 1.04 million litas in Snaige changed hands via block deals.

The electronics company Vilni-aus Vingis closed 1.04 percent higher at 4.85 litas in trade worth 35,300 litas.

On the current list, Zemaitijos Pienas jumped 2.31 percent to 13.30 litas on a turnover of 207,800 litas. Traders attributed increased interest in the stock to the announcement of a profit of 1.3 million litas for the first quarter of 2002 - a 44 percent increase over the same period last year.

Zemaitijos Pienas was the only one of Lithuania's three leading dairy companies to report a first- quarter profit. Rokiskio Suris posted a first-quarter loss of 2.96 million litas, and Pieno Zvaigzdes announced a loss of 2.17 million litas.