Lietuvos Telekomas leads Lithuanian market fall

  • 2002-09-19
  • Boris Epsteins
Baltic stock market indexes remained relatively unchanged last week despite steep declines on U.S. and European markets.

Gains by Estonian stocks compensated for downward trends in Lithuania, leaving the Baltic Index of 14 Latvian, Lithuania and Estonian blue chips virtually unchanged over the week. The index edged down 0.06 percent to 161.64 points.

Gainers outnumbered losers seven to five, and two Baltic List companies remained flat over the week.

Lietuvos Telekomas took a serious tumble last week, at one point reaching an all-time low, due to the planned sale of state holdings in the telephone company.

Eesti Telekom's and Hansapank's rising share prices pushed the Baltic List capitalization up 0.5 percent to 2.72 billion euros ($2.65 billion) last week.

A lack of major block deals during the week pushed the Baltic List's weekly turnover down to 3.2 million euros.

Estonian stocks contributed 82.5 percent to the total turnover, Latvian stocks contributed 11.5 percent and Lithuanian stocks 6 percent.

Estonian and Latvian Baltic List stocks dominated their respective local markets, generating more than 85 percent of the stock market turnover on their home bourses last week. In Lithuania, list stocks contributed 40 percent.

On the Estonian bourse, Eesti Telekom rebounded last week to lead a slight surge among blue chips.

The Tallinn bourse's TALSE stock index gained 3.16 points or 1.86 percent, ending at 173.37 points on Sept. 13. The price index of five Estonian Baltic List shares gained 0.87 percent over the week to 152.82 points.

Turnover totaled 48.3 million kroons (3.09 million euros) on 288 deals. Baltic List stocks contributed 86 percent of the turnover.

Eesti Telekom, which climbed to 74.32 kroons early in the week, closed 3.60 percent higher than the previous week at 71.97 kroons on trade of 5.65 million kroons.

Hansapank shares climbed 1.03 percent over the week to 199.96 kroons on trade of 34.9 million kroons, 72 percent of the week's total turnover.

Trading activity on the Riga stock exchange picked up last week thanks to gains by a few leading stocks, but overall market indicators fell.

The falling price of gas supplier Latvijas Gaze pushed the Dow Jones/Riga Stock Exchange capitalization index down 0.94 percent to 165.55 points.

The index of Latvia's Baltic List stocks, which is priced in euros, inched down 0.55 percent to 182.54 points.

The RICI climbed 1.43 percent to 206.65 points last week after gains by the less liquid stocks quoted on the bourse's second list.

Weekly turnover totaled 260,000 lats (440,000 euros). Baltic List stocks contributed 85 percent of the total.

Latvijas Gaze fell slightly to close the week at 5.13 lats per share after regulators shot down a tariff hike.

The company plans to approach regulators again with a revised tariff increase after parliamentary elections scheduled for Oct. 5.

Shares in the oil terminal Ventspils Nafta also fell prey to political decisions last week. The government announced it would suspend privatization of the state's stake in the company, prompting a 1.6 percent share drop to 0.60 lats on a turnover of 4,400 lats.

In Lithuania, market heavyweight Lietuvos Telekomas dropped to a record low — below the psychologically significant 1 litas (0.29 euro) per share mark — last week as it came under strong selling pressure amid speculation on the price of the fixed-line monopoly's remaining state-owned shares in the fixed line.

Elsewhere in the market, trading activity was lackluster.

The bourse's benchmark Litin-10 price index fell 0.96 percent to 1,261.48 points. The blue chip index Litin retreated 3.73 percent to 284.80 points, and the broad index Litin-G fell 1.39 percent to 925.87 points. The price index of the six Lithuanian Baltic List shares dropped 0.52 percent to 158.53 points over the week.

Stock turnover reached just 1.68 million litas last week. Baltic List turnover totaled 680,000 litas, 40 percent of the total.

Lietuvos Telekomas ended the week 6.93 percent lower at 0.94 litas, its lowest closing price ever. The stock dropped to an all-time low of 0.90 litas on September 12.

Traders attributed Lietuvos Telekomas' downslide to selling pressure building throughout the week as the government deliberated on the price to be set for shares that will be offered as compensation for restituted property.

Investors feared that 80 million shares, representing 10.03 percent of the company's stock capital, could be brought to the market.

The State Property Fund suggested setting the price at 1.70 litas a share last week, but the country's privatization commission rejected that proposal. The price was eventually set at 1.30 litas.