Ventspils Nafta still props up Baltic Index

  • 2000-04-06
A general downward trend among Baltic List stocks last week was once again compensated for by a strong gain in shares of Latvian oil terminal Ventspils Nafta, which served to hold the Baltic Index to a negligible 0.06 percent decline for the week, to 117.94. Eight stocks fell while five gained.

Ventspils Nafta posted another headspinning 15.8 percent gain, to 1.63 euros ($1.55). Most experts believe that the bull has had its run with the terminal's shares, especially with the beginning of construction of a rival port in Primorsk, Russia. Aided by Ventspils Nafta, the index of the four Latvian stocks quoted on the Baltic List gained 3.16 percent to 127.85, though drops by Balta and Latvijas Gaze held it back. Such strong end-of-quarter gains are not unusual in Latvia as investors try to improve their positions.

The Estonian stocks quoted on the Baltic List continued their downward slide last week, slipping 0.72 percent to 109.47. The Lithuanian stocks on the Baltic List dipped 2.6 percent to 118.61 in light trading.

Turnover of Baltic List stocks jumped 67 percent from the previous week to 8.88 million euros, not including the auction of Latvijas Gaze shares on the RSE. Estonian shares generated a turnover of 6.25 million euros, or 70.3 percent of the total. Latvian shares had a turnover of 2.4 million euros, or 27 percent of the total, and Lithuanian shares accounted for only 2.71 percent with a turnover of 240,000 euros.

Baltic List stocks accounted for 95 percent of the total turnover on the Tallinn Stock Exchange, while the figure was 91 percent on the Riga Stock Exchange and 27 percent on the Vilnius bourse. The market capitalization of the Baltic List stocks on March 31 was 2.87 billion euros, up 0.7 percent over the week. Estonian stocks had a market capitalization of 2.22 billion euros (+1.3%), Latvian stocks 442 million euros (+4%), and Lithuanian stocks 203 million euros (-1.5%).

Note: The table below already includes shares in Pro Kapital and Kaubamaja, which will be included in the index starting April 3. Including these companies increases the Baltic List's market capitalization to 2.95 billion euros.

Share prices dipped throughout most of the world last week. The Russian and Polish bourses lost between 5-8 percent. London's FTSE-100 dropped 2.94 percent and New York's DJIA 1.81 percent.

Estonia: Market holds early gains

The positive trend which prevailed for almost all of the outgoing week on the Tallinn bourse broke on Friday, a victim of the decline in world markets. Nevertheless, the TALSE index ended 1.39 percent higher than the previous Friday at 171.86. Of the main-list shares, Telecom and Hansapank showed gains of respectively 2.53 percent to 152 kroons ($9.28), and 1.27 percent to 139.25 kroons.

"The start-of-the-week heightened expectations but the upward trend broke toward the end-of-the-week under the impact of foreign markets," Uhispank capital markets strategist Aivo Kangus informs us. Telecom has room to fall in the next few weeks, Kangus said. He estimates the share may test the 140 kroon level. Norma moved in a relatively narrow range, with a high of 45.60 and a low of 42.80 kroons, finishing at 43 kroons, a drop of 3.15 percent.

Kangus said major movements in Norma are not to be expected until the firm releases its first-quarter profitability numbers and future plans. Uhispank held relatively stable ahead of publication of quarterly results, Kangus observed. The closing price on Friday was 31.20 kroons, a drop of 2.53 percent for the week.

The exchange's turnover for the week totaled 112.9 million kroons. Hansapank accounted for 58.9 million, Telecom for 17.5 million and Norma for 12.8 million kroons of the total. On the supplementary list Saku Olletehas and Baltika generated turnovers slightly above two million kroons.

Latvia: Window dressing lifts market

Share prices of most liquid securities climbed last week, likely the result of several major investors looking to improve their performance indicators at the end of the quarter. The DJRSE cap-weighted index climbed 3.11 percent to 116.57, while the RICI price index jumped 6.10 percent to 198.28.

Shares in Ventspils Nafta continued to climb, jumping 15.84 percent to 1.63 euros. Shares in the oil terminal have skyrocketed 73.5 percent during the first quarter. The announcement of the privatization of 12 percent of shares in Ventspils Nafta maintains a cloud of intrigue around the company, although it appears unlikely shares will climb much further. Even though it appears mostly a symbolic gesture, the laying of the groundstone of the Russian oil terminal at Primorsk is likely to temper the enthusiasm of some investors.

Shares in Latvian Unibanka dipped during the middle of the week to 1.55 lats ($2.60), but recovered to close at the previous week's level of 1.61 lats. The end of the quarter likely played a role, and some analysts see the share price slipping back to 2.75-2.80 euros.

After the successful auction of 10.7 million shares in Latvijas Gaze, for 28.17 million lats, interest in shares on the bourse has practically dried up. Over the week their price slid 4.95 percent to 3.42 euros.

A dip in Balta's share price was clearly due to pessimistic commentary by analysts. Over the week it slipped 1.79 percent to 6.41 euros, though on March 30 it fell all the way to 3.30 lats before recovering.

Analysts at Estonia's Uhispank wrote that given that the talks on selling a controlling stake in Balta to Finland's Sampo have dragged on, Balta's share price appears excessively high. Analysts at Suprema brokerage even began to admit doubts about whether the talks would conclude successfully.

Excluding the auction of Latvijas Gaze shares, turnover on the RSE totaled 1.51 million lats for the week. Baltic List stocks generated a turnover of 2.4 million euros, or 91 percent of the total.

Lithuania: Weakness continues

Share prices continued to slide in lethargic trading on the Lithuanian National Stock Exchange. The official list LITIN index dropped 2.79 percent to 587.98, while the current list's LITIN-A index dipped 1.29 percent to 1105.45. The LITIN-10 price index of the bourse's top stocks was off 1.66 percent to 1206.22. The index of the four Lithuanian stocks quoted on the Baltic List dropped 2.6 percent to 118.61, putting Lithuanian stocks behind Latvian and ahead of Estonian stocks in terms of performance for the year to date. "Nothing new happened - share price fluctuations continue to be low, and turnover too, so you can say that the market is neutral," Suprema broker Arvydas Jacikevicius said.

Of official list shares trading was most active in Vilniaus Bankas, with a turnover of 413,000 litas ($103,250), shares gaining 0.46 percent in euros to 8.36 euros. The average price on March 31 was considerably lower at 8.18 euros. "On the market appeared sufficient numbers of investors ready to sell shares for around 32 litas, which hit the price of the share," said Finasta broker Aurelijus Rimkus.

Trading in Rokiskio Suris shares picked up somewhat to 104,900 litas, but the price dropped 4.31 percent to 5.89 euros.

On the current list trading remained heavy in Lithuanian Energy's shares at 156,100 litas, which maintained their traditional price of 5.0 litas. Shares in Linas linen factory climbed 1.67 percent to 0.61 litas on a turnover of 118,900 litas. The share price of the Mazeikiai Nafta oil concern dipped 3.23 percent to 0.90 litas on a turnover of 88,300 litas. Greater interest in the shares was due to the drop in price, promoted Jacikevicius.

Turnover on the bourse totaled 3.3 million litas.