Latvijas gaze drags Baltic Index downward

  • 2002-05-23
  • Boris Epsteins
A sharp fall in the gas utility Latvijas Gaze's stocks dragged the Baltic Index down this week, also causing a fall in the Baltic List capitalization.

The Baltic Index of 13 blue chip stocks in the Baltic states fell 1.25 percent to 159.2 points. The price for four Baltic List stocks remained unchanged, while six stock prices gained and three ended down.

Latvijas Gaze dragged the Baltic Index capitalization down from 2.98 billion euros ($2.7 billion) to 2.95 billion euros.

The Baltic List turnover remained unchanged on 4.13 million euros. Eighty percent of this turnover came from deals in Estonian stocks, 14 percent from Latvian stocks and 6 percent from Lithuanian stocks.

Latvian and Estonian Baltic List stocks were in leading positions on the local stock markets, ensuring over 85 percent of the total turnover, while Lithuania's Baltic List stocks produced less than half of the total turnover of the Lithuanian Stock Exchange.

Investors were passive and the mood on the market slumberous during a week that was empty of events on the Tallinn Stock Exchange.

The TALSE index inched up 0.57 percent to 185.91 and the price index of five Estonian Baltic List shares calculated in euros gained 1.37 percent to reach 151.63 points.

The total turnover generated in 341 deals came to 55.15 million kroons ($3.21 million) - the smallest turnover for any single full five-day trading week this year.

Estonia's Baltic List shares generated 51.3 million kroons in turnover, 93 percent of the total.

Deals in Hansapank shares alone accounted for 68 percent of the total turnover. The price of the share finished 0.79 percent higher at 219.05.

Trading in Norma shares was livened by the anticipation of a dividend. As expected, shareholders decided May 16 to pay a dividend of 6 kroons per share.

Norma finished at 71.97 with a turnover of 9.64 million kroons. "Most investors think that if dividends are paid, the share has to be bought," said Uhispank trader Urmas Niine.

In Latvia, the Dow Jones Riga Stock Exchange index was down 7.34 percent to 176.92 points. This index has lost 11.7 percent since the start of the year.

The RICI price index fell 0.36 percent to 223.4 points, while the Baltic List euro price index was down 7.74 percent to 227.51 points.

The stock exchange's turnover doubled to 400,000 lats ($640,000), with Baltic List stocks making up 85 percent of this turnover.

Latvijas Gaze's stock fell 10.6 percent from 6.04 lats to 5.40 lats after reaching 6.15 lats in midweek.

As only a small number of Latvijas Gaze shares are left on the free market, large market players have little problem manipulating the price of these shares.

Latvijas Krajbanka savings bank analysts forecast that the sharp fall in price for Latvijas Gaze shares is in a way "shock therapy causing market activity, leading to large market players reaching their goals faster in terms of splitting the company's shares."

Latvijas Gaze's German shareholders - Ruhrgas and E.ON - recently voiced their desire to increase their share in the company to equal that held by the company's Russian shareholders Gazprom and Itera.

Unofficially, the German companies said they may even buy the shares directly from Itera, but this is unlikely due to the very high price the shares were bought for by Itera.

Other factors affecting the stock price could also be last week's announcement of lower-than-expected first-quarter results, and an ongoing feud with the public regulator on hiking rates.

Small one-off deals prevailed on the National Stock Exchange of Lithuania. Refrigerator producer Snaige was the best performer on the central market, but even its trading volumes were only just above 200,000 litas ($53,000).

The bourse's benchmark price index Litin-10 eased 1.04 percent to 1148.48 points, the blue chip index Litin was up 1.27 percent to 335.17 points, and the broad index Litin-G fell 3.12 percent to 955.18 points.

Calculated in euros, the price index of six Lithuanian Baltic List shares went 20 percent up to 142.74 points.

The week's equity turnover totaled just 2.8 million litas, with the turnover of shares on the Baltic List reaching 875,000 litas, 30 percent of the total.

Quoted on the Official List, Snaige saw some trading activity on May 14. The stock closed flat at 50 litas amid a turnover of 205,800 litas. On other days, Snaige shares were not available at 50 litas and buyers were not willing to raise the price.

Electronics firm Vilniaus Vingis edged up 0.42 percent to 4.82 litas in trade worth 107,600 litas.

Lietuvos Telekomas closed 2.31 percent higher at 1.33 litas in trade worth 97,300 litas. Dairy producer Pieno Zvaigzdes ticked up 0.72 percent to 1.40 litas amid a turnover of 77,000 litas.

Cheese maker Rokiskio Suris rose 1 percent to 28.30 litas on a turnover of 72,300 litas. TV-tube manufacturer Ekranas slid 2.58 percent to 5.66 litas with 19,600 litas worth of shares traded.

Shares in knitwear maker Utenos Trikotazas were not traded this week.