Business in Brief: Tel Aviv Shares End Higher, Despite Brussels Terror Attack

After Brussels terror, El Al shares defy worldwide airlines sell-off; Securities regulator warns against dubious investment schemes; Elbit fourth-quarter profit jumped 43 percent.

Stock prices flash on an electronic screen displaying world clocks at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014.
Bloomberg

Tel Aviv shares end higher, despite Brussels terror attack

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange overcame concerns about the Brussels terror attacks Tuesday to end the day higher. Although it initially fell on the news, the benchmark TA-25 index recovered and was up 0.2% by the end of the session at 1,488.35 points, although turnover was barely exceeding 1 billion shekels ($260 million). The TA-100 finished 0.15% higher at 1,279.87 points. Erez Zadok, CEO of the Aviv Funds, said he wasn’t surprised the market was ignoring the violence. “Once, at a difficult time when suicide bombers were striking buses in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, a London investment manager visited and I asked him if the attack affect his investment decisions. He answered, ‘We don’t count bodies, we count money,’” he recalled. Most sectors ended the day lower, but drug stocks rallied – Opko Health rose 4.3% to close at 45 shekels, Mylan 1% to 177.30 and Perrigo up 1.9% at 509.50. The bond market and the dollar were quiet, but the euro lost more than 0.5% against the shekel to a Bank of Israel rate of 4.3222 shekels. (Shelly Appelberg) 

After Brussels terror, El Al shares defy worldwide airlines sell-off 

While other world airline stocks plummeted Tuesday after the attack at Brussels Zaventem Airport, shares of El Al Airlines were higher. Shares in major European airlines like Ryanair and Air France-KLM were down as much as 4.5%. U.S. airlines Delta, United and American rerouted and canceled flights, and their shares as well as those of other travel-related companies were lower in premarket trading. But shares of El Al closed up 0.9% to 2.98 shekels (78 cents). Israel’s flagship carrier has been enjoying a phenomenal year on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange where its stock more than quadrupled in value in 2015 as plunging fuel prices cut operating costs, although it has lost some of its value this year. But Tuesday's rise came as investors recognized El Al’s security edge – its rigorous boarding procedures and its ability to keep flying when its rivals cancel flights in response to terror attacks. El Al is due to release its 2015 financial reports today. (Shelly Appelberg)

Securities regulator warns against dubious investment schemes

Israel Securities Authority Chairman Shmuel Hauser said Tuesday he wanted the Knesset to widen his authority to protect consumers against the growing number of dubious investment schemes outside the regulators’ purview. “We want to place road signs in this jungle to warn off Israelis who can’t withstand the temptation and find their savings lost forever. Be careful! You’re in a jungle!” he told a conference sponsored by the financial daily Calcalist. “But we won’t be satisfied with just erecting signs, we want to make order in this unsupervised investment jungle,” Hauser added. He cited recent example like Amir Bramly and his Keren Fund, which collapsed under debt of 300 million shekels ($78 million) and is now facing criminal charges. Hauser stressed that the ISA, which has been threatened with lawsuits over failing to act, is only authorized to step in when it is certain that the business comes under its supervision. Among the areas outside its jurisdiction is foreign currency trading, and online offers for investments with unusually high rates of return. (Shelly Appelberg)

Elbit fourth-quarter profit jumped 43%

Defense electronics maker Elbit Systems Tuesday said fourth-quarter profit jumped 43% from a year ago, boosted by higher sales and lower financial expenses. Israel’s largest publicly traded defense firm said it earned $63 million, or $1.47 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter, up from $44 million, or $1.03, a year earlier. Led by airborne systems, revenue rose 4.3% to $886.6 million while financial costs dropped to $2.3 million from $11.2 million. “In 2015, we witnessed a strong renewal of interest in our technologies and defense solutions in Europe, recently winning a number of important contracts in the region, which creates the potential for additional growth in this important market,” said CEO Bezhalel Machlis.” Our results also reflect strong performance in Asia-Pacific.” Elbit’s orders backlog reached a record $6.6 billion, at the end of 2015. Elbit shares finished 2.9% higher at 357.50 shekels ($93). (TheMarker Staff)