Tel Aviv blue chips sustained slight gains on Monday. The TA-25 index rose by 0.1% to 841 points, and the TA-100 index gained 0.2% to 865 points. In the bond market, fixed-rate Shahars ended unchanged while linked Galils added as much as 0.2%. Turnover was normal at NIS 1.1 billion.
Most of the gains were fueled by real estate stocks. Their index rose 1.5% on Monday, following a 2.5% gain on Sunday.
Less than two weeks remain before the elections and the TA-25 index is just 1.4% shy of its all-time high, which was on the eve of the Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections. The TA-100 index is 0.8% below its highest level ever.
Bank Hapoalim slid against the trend, losing 1.5% in a probable correction from its 3% gain in the last week. Bank Leumi had spent much of the day about 1% ahead, but it reversed to end below water after its No. 2 man, Ehud Shapira, announced his resignation to pursue private challenges in the capital markets. Shapira has headed Leumi's international and corporate banking divisions, and risk management, for the last ten years.
As for the real estate pack, Azorim stayed in the limelight and added 2.2%, while IDB Development rose 1.3%. On Friday the business sector learned that U.S. real estate investor Shaya Boymelgreen is buying Azorim from IDB at a hefty premium of 18%, for $320 million.
The company's billion-shekel investment vision for the next two years, revealed today, added 4.8% to real estate investment company Alony Hetz.
Another IDB real estate arm, Property & Construction, gained 2.7% after reporting 225% net profit growth in 2005 to NIS 120.8 million. Revenues increased 50% to NIS 876 million, P&C said, thanks to improvements in all its sectors. During 2005 Property & Construction stock rose 26%, but the benchmark TA-100 index advanced by 29.4%.
Discount Investment, another IDB group holding company, rose 0.8%. Its net profit had dropped 33% in 2005 to NIS 455 million, but the company has no operations of its own - it's all a function of its portfolio companies. During 2005 the biggest changes in its portfolio were the purchase of Clubmarket, the increase of its stake in Cellcom from 25% to 94.5% ( it has since sold 5% to Goldman Sachs), and the sale of Scitex Vision and Ilanot Discount.
Teva ended unchanged and Israel Chemicals gained 2.4% after UBS today issued a report on the company's negotiations with China over potash supplies. Naturally the company wants to increase its price by a lot while China is insisting on a more modest increase. While the first quarter is expected to be weak, it's a non-issue, says the investment bank.