Daily Roundup / No, Shelly, Dead Sea Isn't for Sale, Says Finance Ministry

Delek completes IPO, bananas selling at 500% markup, Harel still bullish on Teva, Teva CEO says no big acquisitions for now.

"Canadian tycoons" not buying Dead Sea: Whatever Shelly Yacimovich says, Israel Chemicals isn't about to be sold to the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, Finance Ministry officials announced Thursday. The state owns the "golden share" – or voting trump card on certain issues – in ICL, which mines potash salts in the Dead Sea. ICL is otherwise controlled by The Israel Corporation with 52.3% of shares and voting rights. PCS of Canada owns 13.84% of ICL's stock and voting rights, while the public float is 33.6%. "The state of Israel… will not allow any transaction that imperils or hurts the economic and environmental interests of the state and its citizens," the Finance Ministry said on Thursday. "Shelly Yacimovich's claim regarding royalties is ridiculous." On Wednesday the Labor party chairwoman, a long-standing opponent of privatization, wrote on her Facebook page, "Bibi must be stopped and prevented from selling our Dead Sea to Canadian tycoons."

Retailers marking up bananas 500%:  While banana farmers have to settle for NIS 1.35 per kilo for their fruit, stores have been selling them for about NIS 8 per kilo, a retail margin greater than 490%. The survey by the Farmers Association concluded that the margin on bananas was the widest, but at NIS 11 per kilo to consumers, the margin on red peppers was also hefty enough at 265%. Know ye that you're also paying a 300% margin on cabbage, 275% on cauliflower and 185% on pears. Now ye know. 

Yitzhak Tshuva floats Delek Logistics on Wall Street: Delek Logistics Partners, a member of the Delek Group conglomerate, completed its initial public offering on Wall Street Thursday. Shares sold at a company valuation of $513 million. The firm is a direct subsidiary of New York Stock Exchange-listed refiner and convenience store retailer Delek U.S. Holdings. Delek Logistics sold nearly 33% of its stock at the top of the projected range, $21 per share, bringing in $168 million. It will be trading under the ticker symbol DKL. Delek U.S. Holdings formed Delek Logistics to hold and manage logistics and marketing services for crude oil and refined products in the United States. 

Harel repeats Buy for Teva: On Thursday afternoon Teva Pharmaceutical Industries reported revenues of $4.97 billion for the third quarter of 2012, and adjusted net profit (excluding one-time items) of $1.28 per share, which beat market expectations. Harel analyst Steven Tepper feels the report as a whole was a tad weak. He still recommends Teva at a Buy, but lowered its 12-month price target to $52. Attention has now shifted to Teva's meeting with investors on December 11, where it will be unveiling its new long-term plan.

No big new acquisitions planned, says Teva CEO: At the unveiling of Teva's annual report, CEO Jeremy Levin said he doesn't foresee more big acquisitions, though evidently smaller ones are a possibility. Teva's growth into the biggest generic-drugs manufacturer on the planet has been fueled by acquisitions. But despite the low-interest rate environment, which makes borrowing attractive, that isn't the focus now, Levin said. The poor business environment (reflected by low interest rates) makes selling non-core activities more attractive and there are intriguing acquisition opportunities in emerging markets and Europe, he said. During the third quarter, Teva stopped its stock repurchases on the market, having bought back $667 million worth of stock in the first half of the year.

FAA smiles on Israel anew: Israel has achieved compliance with international aviation standards, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said on Thursday, upgrading the nation's safety rating. That means Israeli airlines can expand service to the United States and form partnerships with U.S. carriers. In 2008, the FAA had downgraded Israel to Category 2, which means a country is lacking laws or regulations necessary to oversee airline safety, technical expertise or trained personnel or record keeping or inspection procedures.

IEC "ratifies" demand for aid: The Israel Electric Corporation on Thursday confirmed that if it doesn't get emergency aid from the government, it can't buy enough fuel to meet its production quotas this month, just as winter starts to set in. It wants at least a billion shekels in aid, though would prefer NIS 1.4 billion. Why does the IEC need emergency aid? Because it miscalculated its cash flow needs this year, the utility admits, and says it hired Goren Capital to figure out how this mess happened. 

With reporting by Oren Freund, Amiram Cohen, Yoram Gabison and Reuters