Business in Brief / Stratasys Shares Tumble Amid Spate of Bearish News

Unions warn they may strike stock exchange; High Court: Africa Israel, board immune from shareholder's suit; Tel Aviv shares end higher after long holiday weekend.

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Stratasys shares tumble amid spate of bearish news

Shares of the Israeli-U.S. 3D printer maker Stratasys have tumbled 16.5% since April 25 amid a spate of bad news. The latest blow came when rival 3D System on Friday issued preliminary first-quarter results that forecast non-GAAP earnings of between 2 and 4 cents a share, well under analyst expectations of 17 cents. A week earlier the online tech magazine Motherboard reported that Stratasys’ MakerBot unit had laid off nearly a fifth of its workforce and was closing three retail stores in New York, Boston and Greenwich, Connecticut. Meanwhile, Piper Jaffray reported last week that the 3D printer industry experienced a sales slowdown in the first quarter, citing “poor channel management, market saturation within the reseller market, price increases and increased competition from low-end models.” Canaccord Genuity analyst Bobby Burleson cut his target prices for the shares April 15 to $82 from $100. Stratasys shares finished 6% down to $51.28 on Friday in New York. (TheMarker Staff)

Unions warn they may strike stock exchange

Amir Sheftel, a Histdrut labor federation official, warned over the weekend that workers at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange may go on strike unless unions and management can close gaps in their negotiations. “We are on a collision course with the bourse management because of deep disagreements over a future wage agreement to be signed with the bourse,” Sheftel said. After a second round of talks last week, he said that without progress he would recommend declaring a labor dispute, which would entitle unions to impose a slowdown or strike two weeks later. The TASE is offering a 1% pay raise to the bourse’s 213 staff, part of it automatic and part of it contingent on performance. The TASE wants to reduce labor costs, which accounted for more than half its 244 million-shekel ($62.2 million) budget by reducing or even eliminating overtime and laying off staff. Unions say that would effectively reduce pay by 9%, which today averages 49,700 shekels a month, among the highest in Israel. (Haim Bior)

High Court: Africa Israel, board immune from shareholder’s suit

Israel’s High Court of Justice on Sunday ruled that Africa Israel Investments and its directors were immune from a shareholder’s lawsuit but that legal action could be pursued against Lev Leviev, the company’s controlling shareholder. Rafael Cohen, an Africa Israel shareholder, had sought to sue the company and board in connection with its $22 million purchase of land in Ukraine, which he alleges benefited Leviev rather than the company. But as part of a bailout of Africa taken in the interim, the company and its directors were given immunity from lawsuits. A three-judge panel of the High Court sided with Africa Israel and six directors, which filed the appeal seeking to reverse a Lod District Court ruling from May 2014 that had authorized the suit. It now means Cohen’s suit alleging fraud and breach of fiduciary duty will now be filed against Leviev alone. Africa Israel shares ended up 0.4% at 3.89 shekels (99 cents). (Efrat Neuman)

Tel Aviv shares end higher after long holiday weekend

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange came back from a long Independence Day holiday to trade higher on Sunday after Wall Street rose to a new record over the weekend. The benchmark TA-25 index finished 0.3% higher at 1,687.85 points, while the TA-100 ended virtually unchanged, ending just 0.07% up to 1472.35, as relatively heavy 860.4 million shekels ($219.5 million) in shares changed hand. Technology and telecoms shares were the only exceptions to an otherwise across-the-board rise for the bourse. TowerJazz led tech shares lower, losing 4.5% to end at 65.74 shekels. Among blue chip gainers, Bank Leumi advanced 1.3% to 15.25 shekels and Israel Chemicals moved 0.9% up to 27.60. On Thursday, ICL said it signed potash contracts with Chinese buyers. In the fixed income market, the government’s Galil inflation-indexed bond rose 0.36% to a negative yield of 0.36%. (Omri Zerachovitz)