Business in Brief: TASE Rises on Brighter Economic Growth Figures

Fox reports lower profits amid expansion; Electra reports higher sales; Visa Cal posts stable profits; TMizrahi-Tefahot’s third-quarter profits edge higher.

A Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank branch.
Moti Milrod

Mizrahi-Tefahot’s third-quarter profits edge higher

Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank reported a slight rise in third-quarter net profit on Tuesday after a jump of nearly 15% in financing income was partially offset by higher provisions for bad loans. The country’s fourth-largest bank, which holds a 35% market share in mortgage lending, said it earned 316 million shekels ($81 million), up from 313 million shekels a year earlier. Financing income rose 14.8% to 1.08 billion shekels, while credit loss charges to protect against bad loans jumped to 61 million shekels from 5 million. Chief Executive Eldad Fresher said the bank was able to retain its top position in mortgages by maintaining a conservative lending policy and a strict review of portfolio risk. (Reuters)

Fox reports lower profits amid massive expansion

Fox-Wizel, the fashion retailing group that includes Fox retail stores, reported that third-quarter quarter profits dropped by 27% to 13 million shekels ($3.3 million) amid rising costs due to massive expansion of the number of its stores and stiff retail competition, which forced the company to engage in greater discounting of its wares. At 304.7 million shekels, revenues were 15% higher than a year before. As of the end of the third quarter, the company has 496 store locations, 115 more than the same time last year. In addition to Fox stores and the Fox Home housewares chains, they include Mango, Nike, The Children’s Place and Charles & Keith. The company has said it would begin selling a selection of children’s clothing from American Eagle Outfitters as of March. Fox-Wizel’s share price, which had declined 32% since the beginning of the year, dropped another 0.44% Tuesday to 64.08 shekels. (Eran Azran)

Electra reports higher sales but 13% drop in operating profits

Real estate and infrastructure company Electra reported Tuesday that its sales jumped to 1.16 billion shekels ($298 million) in the third quarter, a 17% increase compared to the period a year before, but operating profits for the quarter were down by 13% to 46.3 million shekels. The company also reported net profits of 34.1 million shekels, a moderate decline from the 35.9 million shekels earned in the quarter last year. Company CEO Itamar Deutscher noted that Electra wrapped up the first nine months of this year showing growth in operations and profits and said its work orders were approaching 10 billion shekels. (Shelly Appelberg)

Visa Cal posts stable profits in third quarter

Israel Credit Card, the company better known as Visa Cal, which is controlled by Israel Discount Bank and First International Bank of Israel, reported this week that it had net third-quarter profits of 42 million shekels ($10.7 million), just a bit less than the 43 million shekels it earned during the quarter last year. The company’s reported profits were reduced by a change in its accounting methods related to its Diners Club operations, in which it currently holds a 51% stake, and by marketing expenses, including the launch of the Fly Card credit card with El Al Israel Airlines. Visa Cal will take full control of Diners Israel with the acquisition of the remaining stake in the business from Alon Blue Square Israel and Dor Alon Energy for about 150 million shekels. (Michael Rochvarger)

TASE rises on brighter economic growth figures

Shares on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange generally traded higher on Tuesday against the backdrop of an encouraging 2.5% annualized domestic economic growth in the third quarter, and gains on major exchanges abroad. The benchmark Tel Aviv-25 index rose 0.85% to 1,558.50 points while the Tel Aviv-100 jumped 0.78% to 1,350.92 points. Volume for the day was 1.38 billion shekels ($353 million). The Banks-5 index rose 0.74% to 1,367.58 points while the Real Estate-15 index inched up just 0.02% to 414.26. The Communication index rose 2% to 1,058.13 points. In communications industry news, Cellcom Israel reported sharply lower profits, but still bested analysts’ expectations. Shares of the cellular firm rose by 1.8% higher in Tuesday's trading, closing at 28.98 shekels. Among other stocks of note, IDB Development Corp. shares gained 4.5% to 2.30 shekels. (Eran Azran)