Business in Brief: Nice Turns in 18% Rise in Third-quarter Profit

Bank of Jerusalem raises offer for Dexia ■ Sapiens to use cash for further acquisitions ■ Tel Aviv shares end higher in volatile session

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Bank of Jerusalem raises offer for Dexia 

The Bank of Jerusalem upped the stakes Thursday in its battle with Israel Discount bank for control of Dexia Israel Bank. The lender said it raised its offer to 730 million shekels ($199 million) — 350 million in cash and 380 million in cash and stock, 27% of its issued share capital. Bank of Jerusalem said it asked Dexia to respond to the new offer within a week. Dexia rejected its previous offer, made in August for an undisclosed amount. In September, Discount offered 670 million shekels  and began negotiations with Dexia. In March, a group of Israeli institutional investors purchased 58.9% of Dexia Israel from Belgian banking group Dexia SA, for 350 million shekels. The rest of Dexia Israel is publicly traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, where its share price closed 0.7% higher at 698.50 shekels. (Michael Rochvarger)

Nice turns in 18% rise in third-quarter profit

Nice, an Israeli maker of software used in customer experience, regulatory compliance and financial crime prevention, reported Thursday an 18% rise in third-quarter net profit, boosted by continued growth in its cloud and analytics tools. Nice said it earned $1.12 per diluted share excluding one-time items, up from 95 cents a year earlier. Nice was forecast to post adjusted earning per share of $1.07 on revenue of $352 million, according to I/B/E/S Refinitiv. Revenue rose 9% to $356 million, with cloud revenue up 20% to $120 million. “As we look forward to ending the year on a high note, we now expect to exit 2018 with a cloud revenue run rate of $550 million up from our previous expectation of $500 million, while continuing to drive profitability,” said CEO Barak Eilam. The company raised its 2018 adjusted EPS forecast to $4.53-$4.69 from $4.46-$4.66 and its revenue projection to $1.45-$1.466 billion from $1.434-$1.458 billion. Nice shares finished up 2.6% at 410.10 shekels ($111.83).  (Reuters)

Sapiens to use cash for further acquisitions

Sapiens will use its growing cash pile to make more acquisitions, CEO Roni Al-Dor said Thursday, a day after  the Israeli developer of software for the insurance industry posted a 20% increase in third-quarter profit attributable to shareholders. Sapiens said it had $64 million in cash at the end of the quarter and cash flow of three times its rate a year earlier that will be used to make major acquisitions soon, he said. “Since 2011 we have succeeded in growing our operations and revenues with the help of acquisitions and right now we’re working to integrate the companies. But we’re still looking to continue investing,” he said. “The problem now is the high prices in the market that are more appropriate for venture capital funds.” Al-Dor said Sapiens had grown its customer base to about 400 and was adding 20 to 30 new customers every year. He said that the company’s forecast for 2018 revenue of $285 million to $290 million would likely end up being at the top of the range. Sapiens shares ended down 1.75% at 43.23 shekels ($11.79). (Shelly Appelberg)

Tel Aviv shares end higher in volatile session

Tel Aviv shares rose, but off their daily highs, in a volatile session Thursday. The benchmark TA-235 index finished 0.4% up at 1,657.44 points, while the TA-125 gained 0.35% to 1,493.38 on turnover of 1.62 billion shekels ($440 million). Israel Chemicals climbed 3.6% to 24 shekels and was the day’s volume leader, after announcing it had signed one of its biggest-ever potash contracts with China. The three-year agreement is worth $870 million, the company said. Perrigo plunged 11.3% to close at 242 after the U.S. drugmaker cut its 2018 profit forecast to a range of $4.45 to $4.65, from $4.75 to $4.95. Bezeq shares climbed 1.85% to 4.46 and its parent company, B Communications, surged 5.7% up to 37.94. Other top gainers were Melisron, up 3.1% to 1.68, and Phoenix, ahead 2,8% to 21.90 at close. In foreign currency trading, the euro weakened more than 0.5% against the dollar to a representative rate of 4.1948. (Jasmin Gueta)

Nice CEO Barak Eilam.
Nice CEO Barak Eilam.Credit: Ofer Vaknin