Business in Brief: Check Point Beat Quarterly Earnings Forecast

Urbancorp bonds swoon after Israel directors resign; Randgold in gold-mining venture with Israel’s Dan Gertler; TA-25 index turns lower after six-day rally.

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Stock prices flash on an electronic screen displaying world clocks at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014.
Stock prices flash on an electronic screen displaying world clocks at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. Credit: Bloomberg

Check Point beat quarterly earnings forecast

Check Point Software Technologies on Wednesday reported first-quarter profit that beat expectations on strong demand for its advanced threat-prevention products.

Check Point earned $1.06 per diluted share excluding one-time items in the quarter, up from 95 cents a year earlier. Revenue grew 9% to $404 million, the company said. It had been expected to earn $1.03 a share on revenue of $404 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“This success was driven primarily by advanced threat prevention capabilities, which was evident in our subscription revenue growth,” said CEO Gil Shwed. “In addition, our newly announced high-end and data center security appliances, optimized to deliver next generation threat prevention, got off to a great start in the marketplace,” he said.

Shwed said he was slightly cautious on the overall information technology spending market even though the company was seeing healthy activity in the second quarter.

Check Point shares were down 2.9% at $86.33 at noon local time in New York. (Reuters)

Urbancorp bonds swoon after Israel directors resign

The woes of Urbancorp mounted on Wednesday after the Toronto property developer, whose bonds trade on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, said that three outside directors of its Israel unit resigned and that it expected to post a fourth-quarter loss.

“The company lacks an Israeli management and the Canadian management, as far as we can tell, lacks resources and is not in a position to cooperate effectively with the challenges of being a reporting company in the TASE,” Eyal Geva, Daphna Aviram Nitzan and Ronen Dakar wrote in their letter of resignation.

Urbancorp gave a preliminary estimate of $15 million Canadian dollars ($11.9 million) for its fourth-quarter loss and said it now believed its ability to obtain a CA-$8-million loan controlling shareholder Alan Saskin had promised was “negligible.”

Trading in Urbancorp bonds was briefly suspended on the resignations news; the prices slid so quickly after it resumed that it was halted again. (Eran Azran and Shelly Appelberg)

Randgold in gold-mining venture with Israel’s Dan Gertler

Randgold Resources has entered a joint venture in Democratic Republic of Congo with a company controlled by Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler and a state miner, the company’s CEO said Tuesday.

The gold project in northeastern Congo with Moku Goldmines AG, majority-owned by Gertler’s Fleurette Group and state miner Sokimo could allow Randgold to acquire a minimum 51% stake by backing exploration of the site, CEO Mark Bristow said.

“The mining industry is in difficult times and some of the companies that used to have exploration projects... have run out of cash,” he told reporters in the capital Kinshasa.

Gertler’s mining firms have been the target of transparency campaigners in the past. According to the Africa Progress Panel, headed by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, Congo lost out on at least $1.36 billion in potential tax revenue between 2010 and 2012 in five mining deals involving Gertler.

Gertler denies wrongdoing and says he has contributed significantly to the country’s development. (Reuters)

TA-25 index turns lower after six-day rally

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s TA-25 index turned broadly lower Wednesday after six consecutive days of gains.

The benchmark index lost nearly 0.3% to end at 1,489.60 points, while the TA-100 fell 0.2% to 1,293.28, on turnover of 1.28 billion shekels ($340 million). Blue chips were led lower by a 2.5% drop in Bezeq to 8.25 shekels and declines at the two big banks: Leumi down 1.7% t0 14.18 and Hapoalim down 1% to 19.70.

The only sector to show a gain for the deal was real estate, where Azrieli Group rose 1.35% to 150 shekels. Israel Chemicals climbed 3.2% to 18.17 after UBS issued a report on the company.

The bank cut its target prices for the stock to 22 shekels from 26, but that represents a 25% premium on its current price. TowerJazz rose 2.9% to close at 45 shekels after Bank Hapoalim raised its Nasdaq-traded target price to $22 from $11. (Ruti Levy)

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