Business in Brief: U.S. Dollar at Highest in 18 Months Compared to Israeli Shekel

U.S. dollar pushed past 3.69 shekels ■ Elad Canada completes bond sale ■ Mazor Robotics shares sink ■ Tel Aviv shares end lower

Israeli two hundred shekel bank notes sit on a counting machine in Jerusalem, Israel.
Ariel Jerozolimski / Bloomberg

Dollar at highest in 18 months versus shekel

The dollar reached its highest against the shekel in close to 18 months Thursday as the greenback strengthen worldwide following the U.S. Federal Reserve’s upbeat assessment of the economy combined with a flare-up in the trade tensions between the United States and China. The dollar pushed past 3.69 shekels during trading but settled at a representative rate just short of that, of 3.689. That was a gain of 0.3% for the day and a rise of 8.8% since its latest low in January. The euro lost nearly 0.3% against the shekel to 4.2841. The European currency fell to a one-week low versus the dollar. Investors now see a 90% probability the Fed will raise rates in September and see a further hike in December, according to an analysis by the CME Group. In Israel, meanwhile, Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug has signaled that rates will remain for some time at their historic lows. (Guy Raz and Reuters)

Elad Canada completes bond sale despite boycott call

Elad Canada Reality completed the institutional tranche of a bond sale late Wednesday, despite a call by the nonprofit Financial Justice to boycott it and a challenging market environment as spreads between government and corporate bonds widen. The sale drew orders of 235 million shekels ($61.7 million), and Elad sold 191 million of the three-year bonds at 5.85%. The public tranche of the bonds, which are rated A-minus by S&P Midroog, will take place within the next several days. The bonds issued by Elad, which is controlled by Israeli billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva, are backed by cash flow generated by Elad Canada’s Emerald City, a Toronto residential project. Elad Canada listed its shares on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in 2010, but withdrew them less than three years later after a poor performance. Financial Justice urged a boycott because Tshuva had left lenders taking a 1.5 billion shekel “haircut” in 2012 on the debt of another of his companies, Delek Real Estate. (Michael Rochvarger) 

Mazor shares sink after it reports revenues, profitability declined

Mazor Robotics shares skidded Thursday after the maker of robotic surgical equipment reported lower revenue and profitability in the second quarter. After adjustments, the company said its net loss narrowed to $1.4 million, or 3 cents a share, from a loss of $2.4 million, or 5 cents, a year earlier. But Mazor said revenue slumped to $13.2 million from $15.5 million as its gross margin dropped to 56.1% from 69.4%. The company attributed the decline mainly to its new distribution agreement with Medtronic, which includes lower pricing terms than when Mazor was using direct sales model a year ago. It said some of the drop was offset by a higher number of systems sold. “The expected larger unit volumes, offset by the transfer pricing, is designed to accelerate the adoption of our systems by extending our market reach and expanding our geographical presence,” said CEO Ori Hadomi. Mazor shares ended down 13% at 98.77 shekels ($26.78). (Yoram Gabison)

Shares end lower, weighed down by Teva

Tel Aviv shares ended down Thursday after thee days of gains, as Teva Pharmaceuticals slumped (see story on page 15). The benchmark TA-35 index finished 0.6% lower at 1,578.00 points, while the TA-125 lost 0.4% to 1,407.36, on very heavy turnover of 2.5 billion shekels ($680 million). Israel Chemicals rallied for a second day, adding another 4.3% to finish at 19.32 after reporting strong second-quarter results the day before.  SodaStream marked a second day of big gains, rising 2.9% to 400.40, after it beat analysts’ forecasts for second quarter earnings Wednesday by a wide margin. Unitronics rose 4.3% to 20.31 after it said it won a $15.7 million for order for automated parking garage gears, its biggest contract ever. BioTime dropped 3.75% to 9.06. The biotechnology company said Juvenescence Limited will buy 14.4 million shares of AgeX Therapeutics from BioTime for $43.2 million. (TheMarker)