Daily Roundup / Psst: Sin Taxes to Rise

Share prices on Tel Aviv Stock Exchange tank following UBS review while Mizrahi-Tefahot bank smiles upon its new five-year plan.

Sin taxes are about to rise: At a secret Sunday meeting at the Prime Minister's Office, the officials decided to cut government spending by a billion shekels and in parallel to increase tax revenues by a billion shekels. The cut, treasury officials whisper, will be across the board at all ministries. As for the tax increase, treasury officials are looking at cigarettes, alcohol and jet fuel; they are also considering a surtax on people grossing more than 1 million shekels a year, which means more than NIS 80,000 a month.

Class-action plaintiff against Tnuva gets spanked: The courts expressed grave displeasure at a class-action lead plaintiff who only belatedly thought to append actual evidence supporting his unreasonable-pricing claims against Tnuva, Israel's biggest foods manufacturer. Overturning a lower court's decision to grudgingly allow Ophir Naor to append documents to his claim, Justice Asher Grunis growled that it's become all too common to shore up feeble class-action claims only after they've been filed. Naor can motion the court to allow the paperwork to be added, Grunis ruled.

Telecoms shares tank: Analyst Roni Biran of UBS released a review of telecoms companies on Monday morning, following which the companies' share prices on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange tanked. Biran lowered his target for Bezeq, Cellcom and Partner, but maintained his Buy position for the lot. Yet while Bezeq somehow rolled along with a loss of 1.6 percent at mid-day, Cellcom was down 5.2 percent and Partner was losing 2.5 percent. Biran wrote that despite their special deals to contend with the onset of competition, prices could drop further and he suspects the bad sentiment toward the companies on the market will persist for the nonce.

Mizrahi aspires to 14.5% RoE: The Mizrahi-Tefahot board of directors smiled upon the new five-year plan for the bank on Monday. Among other things, the bank has set its sights on achieving 14.5 percent returns on equity by the year 2017. Now, in 2010 the bank stated its aim of achieving 15 percent RoE in 2013. So, is it lowering its sights? In practice, Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot will have to earn far more to meet the new target, because it is calculated as net profit divided by the bank's average capital, and that capital is expected to sharply increase because the Bank of Israel told all the banks to increase their capital. There you have it.

Brainstorm says stem cells seem safe: Brainstorm says it had good results from the clinical trial testing the safety of its technique to treat the incurable neurodegenerative disease ALS using adult stem cells. The trial was held on 12 patients, whose condition steadied, Brainstorm says; in some cases their muscular functioning improved. No unusual side effects were observed after six months of monitoring, the company says.

With reporting by Sivan Aizescu and Lior Zeno.