Business in Brief: Wall Street Pushes Tel Aviv Shares Higher

Noble reports $2-billion fourth-quarter loss; Gilat gains on profit rise, strong 2016 outlook; Bank Leumi shares rise after staff agree to accept stocks in lieu of monetary benefits.

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.
Bloomberg

Wall Street pushes Tel Aviv shares higher

Shares on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange got a last-minute lift Wednesday from the strong opening on Wall Street. The TA-25 and TA-100 indexes each gained about 1.7% to close at 1,429.96 points and 1,229.52 points, respectively, as 1.21 billion shekels ($310 million) in shares changed hands. El Al Airlines rose 5.5% to 3.05 shekels and Teva Pharmaceuticals advanced 1.9% to 225 shekels. Pluristem jumped 36.3% to 34.44 after it said a unit of the U.S. National Institutes of Health would carry out preliminary studies of the company’s PLX-R18 treatment for acute radiation syndrome. Israel Chemicals dropped 0.6% to 15.25 shekels after Reuters reported that India had halted its potash imports for the year to end-March and delayed negotiations for next year’s purchases until at least June. Energy shares were an exception to the upturn. The Oil and Gas index declined 1.1%, to 852.74 points. The government’s Shahar bond lost 0.3% to raise its yield to 1.83%. (Omri Zerachovitz)

Noble reports $2-billion fourth-quarter loss

Noble Energy, the Texas company that is a partner in Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan natural gas fields, on Wednesday reported a quarterly loss, hurt by $2.2 billion in charges, including on asset write-downs. Noble’s net loss was $2.03 billion, or $4.73 a share, in the fourth quarter, compared to net income of $402 million, or $1.05, a year earlier. Adjusted for asset impairment costs and pretax expenses, earnings came to 44 cents a share, which was well ahead of the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research, which was for a loss of 4 cents. The company, which bought Rosetta Resources in a $2 billion deal last year, said sales volumes rose 8% to 422,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, pro forma for the deal. Noble reiterated that it would cut capital spending by half, to $1.5 billion. “Natural gas exports [from Israel] to neighboring countries could commence in 2016, offering additional upside to the company’s guidance,” it added. Noble shares were up 7.2% at $30.70 late morning local time in New York. (TheMarker Staff)

Gilat gains on profit rise, strong 2016 outlook

Gilat Satellite Networks shares rose Wednesday after the company reported a 63% jump in fourth-quarter profits and said revenues and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization would show big improvement this year. Excluding certain items, net income for the quarter grew to $7 million or 16 cents a diluted share, from $4.4 million or 1 cent a year earlier, Gilat said. But revenues fell to $67.7 million from $73.1 million, which the company ascribed to temporary delays due to regulatory issues relating to the Fitel projects in Peru. Gilat said it was aiming for 2016 revenues between $290 million and $310 million, compared to $197.5 million in 2015, and EBITDA between $18 and $24 million, up from $5.3 million last year. “The positive developments of Q4 vindicate our strategy and give us confidence in our projected growth for 2016 and beyond,” said interim CEO Dov Baharav. Gilat shares ended up 3.3%, at 14.82 shekels ($3.79). (Yoram Gabison) 

Bank Leumi shares rise after staff agree to accept stocks in lieu of monetary benefits

Shares of Bank Leumi, Israel’s No. 2 lender, rallied Wednesday after is reported it had signed a collective bargaining agreement that will convert some 1.15 billion shekels ($290 million) in financial benefits due employees into stock. The bank said the shares would be allocated at their market price when the final version of the wage accord was released and that they would replace the value of bonuses due in 2015 and some of their so-called budgetary pension rights. For tax reasons, the shares will be blocked from being sold for two years after they are issued, it said. The bank added that the allocation would increase its capital adequacy ratio — a barometer of a bank’s financial health that measure shareholders’ ratio of equity to risk assets — by 0.4 percentage points and bring Leumi closer to the 10.3% target set by regulators by the end of this year. Leumi shares closed up 5% to 13.05 shekels ($3.34). (Michael Rochvarger)