Business in Brief / Banks to Get 70% Stake in Tel Aviv Stock Exchange

Yedioth book arm to take stake in Steimatzky; Nice earnings jump; LivePerson beats forecasts; TA stocks ease from record high.

Eyal Toueg

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s board approved a compromise Thursday to allocate 70% of the stock it will issue when it becomes a limited liability company to its bank members, sources told TheMarker. The remaining 30% would go to other TASE members, like brokerage houses and foreign financial services companies. The allocation, which was proposed by TASE Chairman Amnon Neubach, ends a bitter dispute between the bourse’s 26 members. The banks demanded 80% of the shares based on the percentage of share trading and revenue they provide to the bourse, while non-banks had sought a 50-50 division. The TASE is poised to turn itself into a for-profit corporation in a bid to impose business discipline into its management and make its operations more efficient and competitive with world markets. (Asa Sasson)

Yedioth book arm to take stake in Steimatzky
Yedioth Aharonoth Publishers, a joint venture between the newspaper group and Dubi Alexander, exercised an option Thursday to buy a 10% stake in Steimatzky, Israel’s biggest bookstore chain. The move should help Steimatzky, which was acquired by an investor group led by advertiser Yafit Greenberg a year ago after it ran up losses of 200 million shekels ($52.8 million), to compete more effectively with its No. 2 rival Tzomet Sfarim, one-third owned by book publisher Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir. Sources said Steimatzy had recently begun posting an operating profit. The deal announced Thursday still needs to be approved by the Antitrust Authority. One small publisher who asked not to be named said that even though the law barred book retailers from promoting one publisher or title in exchange for money, Steimatzky employees would be tempted to push Yedioth books knowing that it is a shareholder. (Adi Dovrat-Meseritz)

Nice earnings jump 21% in second quarter
Nice Systems said Thursday its second-quarter net profit rose 21%, topping estimates. Boosted by higher sales and cost-cutting, the maker of software for managing call centers and detecting fraud earned 70 cents a diluted share excluding one-time items in the quarter, up from 58 cents a year earlier. Revenue grew 6% to $234.8 million. Excluding the impact of currency exchange rates, revenue grew 9 percent, it said. Analysts had forecast that Nice would earn 66 cents a share ex-items on revenue of $233.7 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. For the third quarter, Nice said it expected revenue of $236 million to $246 million and adjusted diluted EPS of 68 to 74 cents. It raised its 2015 adjusted EPS estimate to $3.04-$3.15 from $3.01-$3.12, and maintained its full-year revenue outlook of $985 million to $1.005 billion. Nice shares ended down 2% at 234.40 shekels ($61.86). (Reuters)

LivePerson beats forecasts, shares soar
Shares of LivePerson, a maker of live chat software for businesses, soared Thursday after its second-quarter profits beat analysts’ forecasts. The stock reversed a week of sharp declines. The company said adjusted net income for the quarter reached $900,000, or 2 cents a share, down from $2.9 million, or 5 cents, a year earlier. Revenues rose 16% to $59.3 million. Analysts had expected 1 cent a share, Briefing.com reported. For the full year, the company said revenues would land between $243 million and $247 million, the same as its previous estimate. But it lifted its range for adjusted earnings to 12-15 cents from 10-15 cents, putting it above consensus estimates. “We have a very solid sales pipeline right now. We continue to sign in the pipeline very large enterprises because that’s really obviously where we’re deriving the business,” CEO Rob LoCascio told analysts. LivePerson closed up 12.6% to 35.95 shekels ($9.50) in Tel Aviv. (TheMarker)

Tel Aviv shares retreat after hitting record high
Tel Aviv shares pulled back late Thursday from a record close the day before as Wall Street turned lower. The benchmark TA-25 and TA-100 indexes both fell about 0.3% to end at 1,712.61 and 1,478.61 points, respectively, on very heavy turnover of 2.11 billion shekels ($560 million). Among blue-chip losers, Bank Hapoalim ended 2.1% lower at 20.95 shekels and Partner Communications fell 3.1% to 16.20. Teva also ended lower after a three-day rally on the Allergan deal. But Israel Chemicals added 2.8% to finish at 26.08 shekels. In the fixed-income market, the government’s 10-year shekel bond climbed 0.45% to cut its yield to 2.33%. Its linked bonds for the same term also rose 0.45% to a yield of 0.75%. Victory, the supermarket chain, completed a 95-million-shekel institutional tranche of a bond offering. (Omri Zerachovitz)