Market Report / Mild Rises on Positive Results

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange managed another day of slight price rises yesterday, with the blue-chip Maof index closing 0.94 percent up on the day, at 368 points, and the Tel Aviv 100 climbing a similar 0.9 percent.

So, what induced this moderately positive note? Apparently investors are encouraged by the recovery on the European bourses, expectant gains in New York, and the fact that for two days, there has been no mass-victim terror attack.

Volume of trade on the TASE was low, at NIS 160 million.

The Forex market also exhibited stability yesterday, with the the U.S. dollar trading for most of the day with little change. The representative rate was set at NIS 4.71 - barely 0.1 percent up on Tuesday's rate. After the representative rate was set, the greenback weakened slightly, returning to Tuesday's NIS 4.706 level.

The retail chains were still attracting attention among traders, following several days of star performances. Some investors have come to the conclusion that these large chains, considered till recently as on the defensive, would soon suffer quite seriously from the continuing, depressed economic cycle. This week's release of SuperSol's disappointing second-quarter results (profits slumping 55 percent on revenues down 9 percent for same-store sales) surprised many, and began to worry others that maybe the same fate would befall its rivals.

SuperSol's share has fallen 11.5 percent since last Thursday, while Blue Square Israel (owners of the Co-Op chain) has lost 15 percent in value. Since the beginning of the year, the two competitors have seen their shares erode by more than 30 percent. The two led the way south yesterday with SuperSol slipping a further 1.5 percent, and Blue Square Israel shedding 2.7 percent. Blue Square Properties fell 1.2 percent.

Elbit Systems jumped a healthy 4.9 percent on the release of its second-quarter results, showing increased sales but a fall in net profits. Since the outbreak of terror in Israel, and similar troubles globally in the past year, Elbit's share has been quite the darling of the investor. In 2001, Elbit Systems had the highest yield for all the Maof shares, though it has since seen its price drop 15 percent this year.

The agrochemical company, Makhteshim Agan, jumped 3.9 percent yesterday, based on positive expectations of future reports.

The firm has suffered in the recent past from the woes of Argentina and Brazil (much of its business being in the South American market) and the relative weakness of the local currencies there.

The high-tech heavy Tel-Tech index registered an impressive 1.5 percent rise, boosted by Elbit Systems, Scitex (up 3.8 percent), Alvarion (4.9 percent) and also Lipman, which posted soaring revenues and profits for the second quarter.