Business in Brief

Israeli hedge funds outperform peers and more cuts ahead at Hadera Paper Mills? And Israeli food giant seeks to avoid dip in standards for U.S. hummus.

Shelly Appelberg
Eran Azran
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Sabra hummus.Credit: Courtesy
Shelly Appelberg
Eran Azran

Study: Israeli hedge funds outperform peers

Israeli hedge funds outperformed their peers elsewhere in the world over the last three years, reports Tzur Management, an alternative asset adviser. In 2013 alone, the 52 Israeli funds included in the survey had an average return of 17%, compared with 6.7% for funds in the global HFRX index. In 2012, the returns were 13.3% and 3.5%, respectively, while in 2011 – when many global funds were suffering the fallout of the European debt crisis – Israeli funds had a return of 6.7% on average while the index saw a drop of 9%. The industry itself also enjoyed rapid growth, with the number of funds increasing to about 90 from 60 in the three years. “Some of the growth in funds is from the areas of algorithms. Many high-tech people and academics are moving into the financial services area and setting up computerized-trading funds,” said Yitz Raab, Tzur’s managing partner.

Strauss U.S. unit seeking hummus standard

If Sabra Dipping Company has its way, the use of chickpeas and tehina in making hummus will become U.S. law. The hummus manufacturer, which is co-owned by PepsiCo and the Israel-based Strauss Group, has filed a petition with the Food and Drug Administration to create a standard for which dips are considered hummus. The standard Sabra seeks would mandate that hummus be comprised primarily of chickpeas and contain no less than 5 percent tehina. The 11-page proposal asks that hummus be defined as “the semisolid food prepared from mixing cooked, dehydrated or dried chickpeas and tehina with one or more optional ingredients,” according to a news release issued Monday.

Hadera Paper Mills profits sinks in quarter

Hadera Paper Mills reported another decline in quarter profit on Thursday, even as the company took steps to cut costs. Profits attributable to shareholders fell to just 294,000 shekels ($84,300) in the first three months of the year, from 1.2 million shekels the same time in 2013. Cost of sales were 5.5% lower at 420 million shekels as the company cut salaries and laid off 30 employees. But revenues also declined, by 3.7% to 459 million shekels as sales of printing and writing paper both declined, as did sales of packaging materials. Shares of Paper Mills rose 0.8% to finish at 165 shekels in Tel Aviv.

TA-25 gains, but rest of market ends lower

The TA-25 index scratched out a small rise on Thursday, but the rest of the market ended lower. The benchmark was falling most of the day before making an about-face in mid-afternoon to finish up 0.1% to 1,389.31 points, as just over 1 billion shekels ($349 million) in shares changed hands. The TA-100 edged down 0.05% to 1,251.18 and all the sectorial indices ended lower, too. For the week, the TA-25 was up 0.8%, bringing its year-to-date gain to 4.5%. Clal Biotechnology led the decliners, shedding 4.1% to 9.05 shekels after reporting its first-quarter loss widened more than fivefold to 58.3 million shekels. Azrieli Group rose 0.8% to finish at 113.70 shekels, on a 7% increase in quarterly net to about 211 million shekels. B. Yair, the property developer facing a money-laundering investigation, recovered from a two-day plunge, adding 5.3% to close at 210.60 shekels.