SodaStream Shares Tumble on Quarterly Loss

Briefs: Dollar’s rate-cut rally comes to an end; Rate remarks push shares, bonds higher.

Scarlett Johansson representing SodaStream
Courtesy of SodaStream

SodaStream shares tumble on quarterly loss

Shares of SodaStream tumbled yesterday after the maker of home carbonated-beverage machines reported a loss for the fourth quarter of 2014 amid a sharp decline in revenue. The company, which has been buffeted by changing consumer tastes, reported a fourth-quarter loss of $8.2 million due to the cost of restructuring to redirect its business. Discounting the restructuring costs, earnings came to 35 cents a share, exceeding the 20-cent average estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research. But revenue plunged 25% to $126.5 million, missing Wall Street forecasts of $133.6 million. “We are confident that repositioning the brand around health and wellness and launching a completely new portfolio of water enhanced flavors fits perfectly with the changing nature of consumer demands,” CEO Daniel Birnbaum said. By midday in New York, shares were down 7.7% to $17.57. (TheMarker)

Dollar’s rate-cut rally comes to an end

The dollar and euro weakened against the shekel yesterday, ending a two-day rally prompted by the Bank of Israel’s surprise interest rate cut. The U.S. currency, which reached as high as 3.94 shekels this week, weakened 0.35% to a Bank of Israel rate of 3.938 shekels; the euro lost 0.25%, to 4.467 shekels. Currency trader FXCM said the dollar lost ground after U.S. Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen hinted that U.S. rates won’t be going up any time soon. “The dollar-shekel rate is trying to settle in at 3.95 but at the end of the day the real test will be whether it can reach 4 shekels,” FXCM said, noting that it failed to do so on three occasions in the past two months. “It will be interesting to see whether the current interest rate differential between the dollar and the shekel is enough of an incentive to do that,” FXCM said. (Dror Reich)

Supersol returned to profitability in quarter

Supersol, Israel’s biggest food retailer, yesterday said it had returned to profitability in the fourth quarter of 2014, after two quarters of losses. Nevertheless, at 42 million shekels ($10.7 million), profit for the troubled supermarket chain was down 46% from a year ago; revenue fell 4.3%, to 2.8 billion shekels, due to price cuts. Same-store sales were down 4% due to price cuts and the timing of High Holy Day shopping,. Faced with stiff competition from discount supermarkets and declining consumer spending, Supersol has been closing branches and cutting costs. “We are confident that the actions taken in the past year ... will lead the company to growth, to preserving its leading position in the retail market in Israel and a return to adequate profitability,” the company said. Supersol shares closed up 8.9% at 9.53 shekels. (Yoram Gabison)

Altair mulls IPO after 4G breakthrough

Altair Semiconductor said yesterday it has developed technology that will allow small devices such as security alarms to connect to “fourth generation” mobile networks more efficiently, and that it may conduct an initial public offering this year. The company is not yet profitable, cofounder and vice president of marketing Eran Eshed told Reuters, but “if we execute on our business plan and 2015 goes as expected, it’s a matter of months.” Altair’s new chipset has up to 10 times lower power consumption, and half the connectivity cost, of the standard 4G technology being used today.(Reuters)

Rate remarks push shares, bonds higher

Tel Aviv shares and bonds extended their gains on yesterday, pushed higher by remarks from a top Bank of Israel official that interest rates might go negative if the shekel resumes strengthening. The TA-25 index closed up 0.5% at a record 1,508.50 points and the TA-100 added 0.7% to 1,335.72. Turnover was a brisk 1.7 billion shekels ($430 million). The government’s shekel bond due in March 2024 jumped 0.72%. “The surprise interest rate reduction continues to be the main factor influencing the markets and that will be the case for the foreseeable future,” said Idan Azoulay of Epsilon Investment House. Sapiens rose 7.5% to 30.64 shekels on strong fourth-quarter earnings. Bezeq led telecoms shares lower with a 2.4% decline to 6.30 shekels. (Dror Reich