Equity keeps roaring ahead

  • 2003-06-21
  • Baltic News Service
Powered by Estonian blue chips, Baltic stocks continued their stunning advance this year, as the Baltic Index of the most capitalized stocks quoted in the three countries gained 2.3 percent last week to 218.1 points.
Weekly turnover amounted to 54.3 million euros, with Estonian stocks contributing 99.1 percent of this amount.
The biggest gainers were on the Tallinn exchange were Merko Ehitus, the construction company, which shot up an astonishing 11.24 percent.
On the Lithuanian exchange Utenos Trikotazas knitwear maker swelled 6.8 percent, and Snaige refrigerator maker climbed 4.6 percent.
The loser in Tallinn was Norma, the car safety belt maker, plummeted 5.2 percent.
Despite the overall gains, three leading Estonian blue chips - Hansapank, Eesti Telekom and Norma - all finished the week lower.
After setting new records earlier in the week, Hansapank began to fall on profit-taking.
Riho Talumaa, trader with the investment bank Suprema, said, "The share hasn't dropped that much for a long time."
The two consecutive records took the price of Hansa near 300 kroons, after which it lost more than 4 percent on June 5 to finish the week down 0.9 percent.
Falls in the price of Eesti Telekom and Norma - 1.9 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively - were mainly due to the expiration of dividend rights, explained Talumaa.
Merko, by contrast, shot up to 111.4 kroons in more active than usual trading.
In Latvia, trading activity became even more sluggish, with turnover dropping to 50 percent of the previous week's result.
The Riga Stock Exchange board transferred shares of Latvijas Kugnieciba (LASCO) to its supervision list for one day on fears the company had violated investor interest protection requirements by not reporting its planned investment in tanker fleet renovation.
Last week LASCO management announced it would invest some $300 million in its tanker fleet over the next seven years.
Shipper shares nevertheless remained flat at 0.3 lats over the week.
The oil terminal Ventspils Nafta posted the largest turnover, with some 65,400 euros worth of shares changing hands. The stock gained 2 percent over the week.
In what may prove to be a breakthrough for the troubled oil terminal, U. S. Ambassador to Latvia Brian Carlson in a meeting with Latvian Economy Minister Juris Lujans affirmed interest of U.S. businesses in investing in the oil terminal.
Also, Lujans' meeting with Ventspils Nafta shareholders showed signs of progress in breaking the impasse between state and private interests in the strategic transit company (see story on Page 8).
In Vilnius, trading was brisk, though no clear trend emerged by week's end.
Vilniaus Degtine, the alcoholic beverage producer, was the leading stock, soaring 5.2 percent to 1.01 litas.
Two other alcohol companies also undergoing privatization (see story on Page 7) saw much slower trading.