Business in Brief: Tel Aviv Shares Resume Declines After Long Holiday Weekend

Israel Opportunity sees oil near Dead Sea | Teva’s Copaxone sales showed weakness in first quarter | Check Point CEO Shwed got minimum wage plus $36 million in 2015 | Stratasys’ Marketbot unit to shut N.Y. plant

At the entrance to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, 2011.

Tel Aviv shares resume declines after long holiday weekend

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange resumed its downward trajectory yesterday after a long holiday weekend. The blue-chip TA-25 index marked its fifth straight session decline, falling 1.7% to 1,413.84 points. The broader TA-100 was also down by about 1.7%, at 1,225.58 points. Turnover was 607 million shekels ($162 million) Pharmaceutical shares led the way down, with Mylan tumbling 7.3% to 155.70 shekels and Perrigo falling 3.4% to 360.90 shekels. Israel Chemicals lost 2.5% to 18.07 shekels after Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan last week cut its profit forecast due to weak demand and lower prices. TowerJazz dropped 3.5% to 43.58 shekels. Among blue chips, Bezeq was a rare gainer, rising 1.1% to close at 8.06. Kardan NV jumped 4.7% to 56 agorot on news that its Tahal unit won a 130-million-shekel water infrastructure contract in Europe. Bond prices rallied, with the government’s 10-year Shahar bond up 9.53% to cut its yield to 1.77%. The Shahar due in 2024 rose 0.85% to a yield of 2.86%. (Omri Zerachovitz)

Israel Opportunity sees oil near Dead Sea

Israel Opportunity shares soared yesterday after a new resources report showed a Dead Sea field it controls could hold reserves worth 1.2 billion shekels ($322 million). The company said a report prepared by Edinburgh-based Dunmore Consulting on the Hatrurim license, which covers 94 square kilometers, gives a best estimate of the field containing seven million barrels of oil, while the high estimate is 11 million barrels. Partners in the Hatrurim project include Zerah Oil & Gas, Gulliver Energy, Ashtrom Group and Cyprus Opportunity. A previous group discovered oil at the same spot in 1995 but determined the field was not worth developing due to low oil prices. Israel Opportunity said it plans to push ahead quickly with development, using more advanced technologies and taking advantage of dropping service costs. It said the drilling budget was $5 million. Israel Opportunity shares finished up 28.6% at 1.55 shekels. (Reuters)

Teva’s Copaxone sales showed weakness in first quarter

Copaxone, Teva Pharmaceuticals’ best-selling multiple-sclerosis treatment, showed signed a first-quarter weakness, data from the market research firm Symphony Health showed.  It said the number of new prescriptions for the two forms of the drug — a 20-milligram version for which the patent has expired and the 40-mg version Teva is counting on to keep sales growing — fell 4.5% from the fourth quarter of 2015. They were down 1.5% year on year, it added. Prescriptions for the 20-mg version, which has faced generic competitions since May 2014, were down 21.2% quarter on quarter to 26,000. For the 40-mg version, year-on-year sales were up 22.8% to 124,000 but quarter on quarter they were flat, according to Symphony Health. Teva has said it has succeeded in moving 78% of all Copxone users to the 40-mg version of the drug, whose patent doesn’t expire till 2030. Copaxone comprises outsized shares of Teva’s sales and profit. Teva shares ended down 4.3%% at 201 shekels ($53.77). (Yoram Gabison)

Check Point CEO Shwed got minimum wage plus $36 million in 2015

Gil Shwed, the CEO of Check Point Software Technologies, got paid a base salary of just $27,000 last year — the minimum wage plus social benefits. But, according to the company’s F-20 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Shwed received $35.7 million in stock compensation in 2015, up from $31.3 million the year before. Other Check Point executives received bigger salaries but much less stock compensation last year. President Amnon Bar-Lev’s salary costs added up to $470,000 and he received equity-based compensation of $4 million; Vice President Products Dorit Dor’s salary cost was $375,000 and she received stock compensation of $2.9 million; Chief Financial Officer Tal Payne’s salary cost was $453,000 and her equity-based compensation $2.5 million; the salary cost of Miryam Steinitz, head of human resources, was $227,000 and her stock compensation was $576,000. (Omri Zerachovitz)

Stratasys’ Marketbot unit to shut N.Y. plant

Less than a year after opening a factory in Brooklyn, New York, Stratasys’ MakerBot unit said it would be shutting the facility, laying off workers and moving production to China. Jonathan Jaglom, CEO of the maker of 3-D printers for home use, said Jabil Circuit, one of the world’s biggest contract manufacturers, would assume production over the next several months as part of efforts to cut costs. MakerBot plans to retaining key employees from Brooklyn in logistics, repairs, planning, quality control and operations. “Adopting a flexible manufacturing model will allow us to quickly scale production up or down based on market demands,” Jaglom said in a blog post. Not long after it was acquired by the Israeli-U.S. maker of 3-D printers Stratasys in 2013, Marketbot’s sales began dropping quickly, forcing Stratasys to write down more than the $403 million it paid for the company. Stratsys shares closed down 4.9% at $44.27 on Friday. (Omri Zerachovitz)