Business in Brief: Gaza Fighting Depresses Tel Aviv Shares

Gaza fighting depresses Tel Aviv shares ■ Delek, Noble finalizing terms to buy pipeline to export gas to Egypt ■ Nice beats profit forecasts, but shares fall

A Palestinian man inspects a Hamas site that was hit in an Israeli air strike, in Al-Mughraqa on the outskirts of Gaza City August 9, 2018.
REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Gaza fighting depresses Tel Aviv shares

Tel Aviv shares fell Thursday as fighting between Israel and Hamas flared up, raising the risk of an all-out conflict. The benchmark TA-35 index ended down 0.5% at 1,598.84 points, while the TA-125 lost 0.4% to 1,421.08, on turnover of 1.21 billion shekels ($330 million). The market was also weighed down by Perrigo, whose shares plunged 7.8% to 266.40 shekels after the U.S. drugmaker said it would separate its generics prescription business, which has been a drag on results, to focus on consumer health care. Other big losers included Mizrahi Tefahot Bank, which dropped 2.1% to 65.67 shekels, and Teva Pharmaceuticals, which lost 1.3% to 83.44. Oil Refineries Limited jumped 5.8% to 18.1 after it reported second-quarter net rose 33% to $97 million. Hagag Group raised 76 million shekels in a sale of four-year bonds at 6.2% despite difficult market conditions. (Jasmin Gueta)


Delek, Noble finalizing terms to buy pipeline to export gas to Egypt

Israel’s Delek Energy, Texas-based Noble Energy and their Egyptian partner East Gas have finalized terms to buy control a pipeline to deliver Israeli natural gas to Egypt, Bloomberg News reported Thursday.  The news comes a day after Reuters reported that Israel would begin exporting gas from Delek and Noble’s Leviathan and Tamar field early in 2019. Bloomberg cited unnamed sources as saying the deal calls for forming joint venture companies in Cyprus and the Netherlands, through which the three would buy a 37% stake in Eastern Mediterranean Gas, the company that now owns the pipeline originally built for carrying Egyptian gas to Israel. Separately, Bloomberg said, the sides are seeking to negotiate a substantial reduction of a $1.76 billion fine imposed on Egypt by an arbitration court after Egypt rescinded the gas export contract. Delek Energy shares ended down 0.8% at 1,246 shekels ($338.21). (Ora Coren)


Nice beats profit forecasts, but shares fall

Nice beat second-quarter profit forecasts Thursday and raised its full-year earnings forecast, but its shares ended lower nonetheless. Bolstered by cloud and analytics tools, earnings per diluted share excluding one-time items rose to $1.06 from 90 cents a year earlier and topped the $1.02 expected by analysts, Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S data showed. Revenue in the April-June quarter rose 10% to $345 million versus the $343 million expected by analysts. “The continued strong execution around our growth pillars of cloud, analytics and artificial intelligence led to another quarter of double digit increases in total revenue and earnings per share,” CEO Barak Eilam said. Nice has been banking on analytical tools, which allow companies to assess large amounts of data to spot fraud and security threats, to deliver faster growth. Nice raised its 2018 adjusted EPS forecast to $4.46-$4.66 from $4.43-$4.63. Analysts were forecasting $4.54. Nice shares ended down 2% at 397.80 shekels ($107.98). (Reuters)


Phoenix eyes consumer loan sector

Israeli insurer Phoenix is angling to enter the nonbank lending market in a quest to find new growth drivers. The company, which is owned by the Delek Group, has asked the Capital Markets Authority for permission to begin offering loans, mainly to households and small businesses, to the tune of 100 million shekels ($27.1 million) in the first stage. The capital would come from the funds of Phoenix, policyholders and its parent company. As part of its consumer-lending drive, Phoenix had weighed joining a group to bid on the credit card company Leumi Card. Migdal Insurance is also entering the consumer loan business. It plans to offer customers loans for up to five years at 3.35% plus prime. “Consumer lending is one of the next growth areas for insurance companies in general and Phoenix in particular,” said an executive who is involved in the segment. (Assa Sasson and Michael Rochvarger)