Banks, Real Estate Stocks Propel TA-25 Index Past 800 Points on the Upside

Teva advanced 1.1% on strong fourth-quarter, 2005 reports and possibly latest setback for Tysabri


Tel Aviv stocks slowly but steadily gained ground on Wednesday, lifting the TA-25 index back above 800 points for the first time in a week. Granted there was some pullback shortly before closing, but the indexes finished more than half a percent ahead anyway.

On Monday the blue-chips index crossed 800 but couldn't sustain the gain.

Gains were propelled by real estate and bank stocks, the latter after warm recommendations from HSBC and S&P.

The TA-25 index rose 0.8% to 806 points, the TA-100 index rose 0.8% to 829 points but the TelTech-15 index finished unchanged. Turnover was respectable at NIS 1.1 billion.

In the bonds arena, long-term Shahars rose by about 0.2% while long-term Galils advanced by 0.1%.

Dual listed stocks dragged on the tech sector throughout the morning, after the pounding Internet stocks took on Wall Street following disappointment from Google's results. But by closing most of the tech stocks were back in positive territory.
Teva Pharmaceuticals today reported strong results for the year 2005 and rose 1.1% on turnover of NIS 96 million. In its last financial statement excluding Ivax Corporation, with which it has merged, Teva reported record profits and sales and investment banks hastened to update their reports, mostly raising targets to around $47-48 (though some had already done so, and more). CIBC actually left its target unchanged at $46 but noted the tremendous potential in the merged company's pipeline of drugs awaiting FDA approval.

Investors in Teva may also have been impelled by buy by a study, first reported in the LA Times, that Tysabri - a multiple sclerosis treatment that competes with Teva's Copaxone - is basically an immunosuppressant that impacts the immune system much as the HIV virus does.

Nice Systems, also a dual-listed stock, rose 2.1% after starting with a 2% positive arbitrage gap. In the space of two days it's risen 5%, after Bank Hapoalim raised its 12-month price target to $61, which was 18% above its level on the stock exchange at the time.

Koor Industries swung back and forth and finally closed 0.1% up. Partner Communications was the only dual listed stock on the TA-25 index to lose ground, ending 0.1% lower.  Drug company Perrigo spent most of the day under water but finished 0.1% ahead. So far this year, by the way, Perrigo (which bought Agis Industries) has risen 8.5%.

Moving onto the banks, the index gained 2.5% to 1,311 points. TheMarker today revealed that seven years after first investing in the bank, three foreign investors want out of Bank Hapoalim. Michael Steinhardt, Leonard Abramson and the Schusterman family own 5.56% and are negotiating a sale. Bank Hapoalim started 1% down and ended 3% ahead on heavy turnover of NIS 165 million.

Bank Leumi added 2.9% on a volume of NIS 107 million.

Shares in Shamir Optical slipped 1.4% after the company missed forecasts for the fourth quarter of 2005, presenting 1.5% revenue growth and disappointing in its forecasts for 2006.