Shekel Among World’s Strongest Currencies

Tel Aviv shares end lower on Ukraine worries.

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Israeli shekels are worth more in euro or dollar terms than for many years.Credit: Reuters

Shekel among world’s strongest currencies

Of 55 currencies around the world, Iceland’s krona and Israel’s shekel have appreciated the most against the dollar in the past 18 months, the Israel Export Institute said Tuesday, in a report aimed to show policy makers that the strong shekel is hurting Israel’s exporters. The shekel strengthened by 8.1% from the end of 2012 and the krone 12%, while the euro declined in value 3.7%, the British pound 4.9% and the Swiss franc 3.1%, it said. While the krona appreciated more, it was rebounding from a 44% plunge in its value in the four years before 2012. Ramzi Gabbay, the institute’s chairman, lauded the Bank of Israel for its latest interest-rate cut and dollar-buying, but said it needed to bring the dollar rate to at least 3.85 shekels. On Tuesday, the dollar strengthened against the shekel 0.3% to a Bank of Israel rate of 3.4830. (Eran Azran)

Sapiens turns in double-digit profit growth

Sapiens on Tuesday reported double-digit increases in net profit and sales in the second quarter, a day after TheMarker reported that the developer of software for the insurance industry may be sold to a U.S. private equity fund. The company said that discounting one-time expenses, net income attributable to shareholders rose 13% from a year earlier to $3.6 million, from $3.2 million, while revenue increased 16.9% to $38.6 million. Operating profit rose 19.6% to $4 million. “Our business plan remains solid and we are confident in our ability to deliver full-year 2014 revenue in line with our guidance of $154 million to $158 million,” said CEO Roni Al-Dor. Formula Systems is in talks to sell its 48% stake in Sapiens to Francisco Partners at a company valuation of $460 million. Sapiens jumped 7.5% to 28.10 shekels ($8.06) in Tel Aviv. (TheMarker)

Opko: Kidney-disease drug trial is success

Opko Health reported successful results late on Monday in Phase III trials of its Rayaldee drug to treat symptoms of kidney disease and said it would seekU.S. Food and Drug Administration approval later this year. “Top-line data from this study demonstrate that Rayaldee effectively controls secondary hyperparathyroidism [which causes brittle bones] in patients with stage-3 or -4 chronic kidney disease,” said Joel Melnick, vice president of clinical research for OPKO’s Renal Division. Chronic kidney disease affects some four million Americans annually. Separately, Opko reported that its net loss for the second quarter widened to $25.5 million, from $3.4 million a year ago. Shares of Opko fell 4.8% to 30.99 shekels ($8.89) in Tel Aviv. (TheMarker)

Leumi to book NIS 143 million profit on Mobileye

Bank Leumi said yesteday it would post a 143-million-shekel ($41 million) profit in the third quarter after selling half its 2% in Mobileye’s initial public offering last week and the increase in value of its remaining shares since then. Leumi sold 2.05 million shares in the crash-avoidance technology company for $48.25 million. All told, Mobileye has earned the bank a 10-fold return on its investment. Leumi Partners, which manages the bank’s nonfinancial holdings, first bought shares in Mobileye in 2008, when the company was valued at just $550 million. It sold off some stock last year to earn 15 million shekels at a time when Mobileye’s valuation had grown to $1.5 billion. Last week’s IPO valued the company at $5.3 billion and since then its Nasdaq-traded share price has soared 35%. (Michael Rochvarger)

Tel Aviv shares end lower on Ukraine worries

The TA-25 index on Tuesday bumped along sideways most of the day before declining as Europe and U.S. markets dropped over concerns about Ukraine and German economic growth. The benchmark index ended the session down 0.2% at 1,384.96 points while the broader TA-100 index lost just under 0.2% to 1,235.61 points. Turnover was 732 million shekels ($210 million). Among the biggest drops, Ituran reversed a sharp gain from Monday to end down 4.4% at 75.36 shekels, Perrigo dropped 2.7% to 485 shekels and Hadera Paper Mills sank 2,5% to 131.50, a day after reporting a second-quarter loss of 15 million shekels, not counting one-time gains.(Eran Azran)