Quarterly Profit of Israel's Largest Lender Down Amid U.S. Tax Investigation

TASE-listed Medivie moving into the medical-marijuana business ■ SodaStream offers alcoholic concentrate that tastes like Riesling wine ■ Growing private label sales weigh on results at Rami Levy supermarkets ■ Bank shares pace gains for Tel Aviv market

The logo of Bank Hapoalim is seen at their main branch in Tel Aviv, Israel July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo

Hapoalim quarterly profit down on provision for U.S. tax investigation

Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest lender, reported lower quarterly net profit, weighed down by provisions for a U.S. tax investigation and the ending of its activities in Switzerland. Hapoalim said Tuesday it earned 469 million shekels ($134 million) in the third quarter, down from 699 million shekels a year earlier. Excluding the provisions, net profit was 861 million shekels, compared with 819 million shekels forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts. Last week the bank said it would set aside another $80 million in the quarter to cover a possible future settlement in a U.S. tax evasion investigation, bringing the total provisioned for the case to $268.5 million. Hapoalim also wrote off 110 million shekels for ending its Swiss activities. Net financing income rose 5.4% to 2.32 billion shekels in the quarter while net credit loss expenses amounted to 25 million shekels, compared with income of 118 million shekels  a year earlier. Hapoalim shares ended 2.4% higher at 23.97 shekels. (Reuters)

TASE-listed Medivie moving into the medical-marijuana business

Medivie Therapeutic, a shelf corporation traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange that once made medical devices, is moving into the medical marijuana business. The company, which was acquired by entrepreneur Menachem Cohen a month ago, said Tuesday it was paying 14 million shekels ($4 million) for a 51% stake in High Pharma, which has temporary permits from the Health Ministry to grow and sell marijuana. Medivie’s partner in High Pharma is an unnamed kibbutz, which will provide production facilities as well as land to grow the crop, Meivie said. About 33,000 Israelis are permitted to use marijuana for medical purposes, but the number is expected to grow as the Health Ministry recently authorized more physicians to issue permits. Medivie said it would market its products under the Barney’s Farm brand name, which is owned by a Dutch company that is investing 1.8 million euros ($2.1 million) in the new venture. Medivie shares ended down 12.3% at 19 shekels. (Guy Erez)

SodaStream offers alcoholic concentrate that tastes like Riesling wine

SodaStream, the Israeli maker of home carbonation machines, is turning sparkling water into sparkling wine. The company said Monday that it had added an alcoholic concentrate called Sparkling Gold to its line of flavors available for sale at its online shop in Germany. “This sparkling tangy tongue pleaser [resembles] the taste of a fruity Riesling wine,” SodaStream said. Sparkling Gold creates a drink  that is 10% alcohol by volume when prepared using the recommended ratio of one part concentrate to five parts water, the company said. It comes in a gold-tinted glass bottle that contains enough for 12 glasses. The company said that 76% of people surveyed in an independent market research test in Germany last month enjoyed the taste of Sparkling Gold as much as or more than French Champagne brands Moet & Chardon and Veuve Clicquot. SodaStream shares ended up 0.6% at 237.20 shekels ($67.76). (TheMarker)

Growing private label sales weigh on results at Rami Levy supermarkets

Sales and profits at Rami Levy, Israel’s biggest discount supermarket chain, edged higher in the third quarter as a growing number of stores was offset by declining prices. Net profit rose 2% from a year earlier to 30 million shekels ($8.6 million) as sales climbed 3.2% to 1.3 billion shekels. The growth was due to an 11% increase in floor space, as Rami Levy added outlets in Beit Shemesh, Ariel and Holon, among other locations. But sales at stores open for at least a year were down 6.4%, which the retailer ascribed to a big increase in private label products. Private label goods accounted for 16% of all sales in the quarter, compared with 6% the same time in 2016, but the products generally sell for about 10% less than branded equivalents, it said. Its operating margin fell to 3% from 3.1%  a year earlier. Rami Levy shares finished down 1.5% at 178.50 shekels. (Yoram Gabison)

Bank shares pace gains for Tel Aviv market

Bank shares lifted the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Tuesday, resuming the market’s winning streak after a one-day decline the day before. The Banks 5 index closed 2.5% higher at 1,844.71 points after Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank signed on terms to acquire Union Bank (see story on this page). Bank Leumi led the gains, rising 3.5% to 19.46 shekels ($5.56). The benchmark TA-35 index closed up 0.75% at 1,446.67 points, while the broader TA-125 index added nearly 0.6% to a 1,323.51 close, on turnover of 1.49 billion shekels.  Teva Pharmaceuticals extended its Monday gains, closing 1.6% higher at 50.93, on news of a management shakeup at the drug maker. Insurer Phoenix closed 1.7% up at 17.66 even though it reported a 16% year-on-year drop in third-quarter profit, to 187 million shekels. Biomedical shares were lower, but CollPlant jumped 17% to 59 agorot after it said it signed a distribution agreement for Greece and Cyprus. Compugen led TA-125 losers, falling 4.4% to 9.06. (Guy Erez)