The Ticker Noble Energy Surrendering Ruth C Gas License, Located Offshore Haifa

Discount posts big loss on write-downs; Bezeq tops predictions in quarterly results; Kardan NV has first annual profit since 2008; Lower Wall Street, higher oil hit TA-25 index.

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Tamar natural gas rig, located 90 kilometers west of the city of Haifa, Israel.
Tamar natural gas rig, located 90 kilometers west of the city of Haifa, Israel.Credit: AP

Noble surrendering Ruth C gas license

Citing concerns about “regulatory uncertainty” and other risks in gas and oil exploration in Israel, Texas-based Noble Energy is giving up its exploration license for the Ruth C field, Noble’s Israeli partners said on Thursday. The Ruth C license, located offshore Haifa, is believed to have about three trillion cubic feet of gas, about a third as much as the Tamar field. Noble, Israel’s Delek Drilling and Avner got a license to drill there six years ago but have not begun operations. Noble’s statement comes three months after Antitrust Commissioner David Gilo rescinded an agreement that would have allowed Noble and its partners to control the Tamar and Leviathan fields. With the exit of Noble, Delek Drilling and Avner said they had asked the Energy and Water Resources Ministry to extend the November 2015 deadline to start drilling while they find a new operating partner. Delek shares fell 1.5% to close at 14.73 shekels while Avner dropped 1% to 2.72.

Discount posts big loss on write-downs

Discount Investment Corp., the IDB group’s main holding company, posted a 692-million-shekel ($175 million) loss for 2014 as it wrote down the value of all main subsidiaries. The largest write-down was for agrochemical maker Adama, whose value was reduced by 700 million shekels after an abortive initial public offering, said Discount, which posted 152 million shekels profit in 2013. Discount also wrote off 248 million shekels on its stake in Cellcom Israel and 176 million from Super-Sol. The write-downs were only partly offset by over 1 billion shekels in upward revaluations of its property holdings and a 324-million-shekel gain from its sale of Given Imaging. Discount shares ended down 1.5% at 7.71 shekels.

Bezeq tops predictions in quarterly results

Bezeq reported a better-than-expected rise in quarterly net profit on Thursday as lower operating and other expenses offset a drop in revenue from cellphone calls. Bezeq said it earned 416 million shekels ($105.5 million) in the fourth quarter, up from 352 million a year earlier. Bezeq’s revenue fell 6.1% to 2.26 billion shekels due to declining revenue from mobile services. Bezeq was forecast to earn 409 million shekels on revenue of 2.25 billion shekels, according to an average estimate by a Reuters poll of analysts. Bezeq on Thursday forecast 2015 net profit of 1.5 billion shekels and EBITDA of 4.2 billion shekels. Bezeq shares ended down 0.45% at 7.30 shekels.

Kardan NV has first annual profit since 2008

For the first time since 2008, the real estate company Kardan NV had a profitable year. Thanks to the sale of its 50% stake in the Galleria Chengdu shopping mall in China, the Chinese currency’s strengthening against the euro and higher profits at its Eastern European finance operation, Kardan said on Thursday it had a profit of 16.5 million euros ($71.2 million) in the fourth quarter of 2014. That left it with a profit of 5.1 million euros for the year, reversing a 101.4-million-euro loss in 2013. The fourth-quarter report comes just three days after Bank Leumi lost patience with Joseph Greenfeld, one of the company’s three controlling shareholders, and asked a court to declare him bankrupt. Kardan shares finished 6.3% up at 1.43 shekels (36 cents).

Lower Wall Street, higher oil hit TA-25 index

Tel Aviv shares ended down sharply on Thursday, pushed lower by a big sell-off on Wall Street and higher world oil prices. The benchmark TA-25 index lost 1.1% to close at 1,599.18 points while the TA-100 index fell 1% to close at 1,397.37. Turnover was a heavy 2.5 billion shekels ($630 million) due to the expiry of March options on the TA-25 index, which was set at 1,592,36 points. Tech shares were the big losers of the session, with TowerJazz leading TA-100 stocks down on a 4% decline to 65.80 shekels. Among blue-chip stocks, Bank Leumi fell 1.7%, closing at 14.25 shekels and Israel Chemicals dropped 1.2% to 28. In the fixed-income market, the government’s 10-year shekel bond declined 0.18%.

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