Market Report / New Crises Push Stocks Down

Market expectations of an Israeli militarily response to the assassination of Minister Rehavam Ze'evi, coupled with reports of anthrax envelopes in Israel, sent Tel Aviv stocks south yesterday.

There were falls as trading opened before the indexes changed direction to follow European bourses and Nasdaq options upward. But as responses to the assassination multiplied and the trend on New York changed, the mood in Tel Aviv went down with it.

The Maof index closed 0.9 percent down at 390 points, and the Tel-Aviv 100 fell 0.7 percent to 376.7 points. Trading volumes were medium, totaling NIS 251 million.

The dollar, which in the last few days fell unexpectedly against the shekel, yesterday edged up 0.3 percent. After the representative rate was set at 4.304 shekels to the dollar, the American currency kept going up and toward the end of trading was at 4.314 shekels. The day's assassination, together with assessments by numerous macro-economists that the dollar was too low, reversed the trend in the foreign currency market.

The only two shares that went up on the Maof were Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Osem Investments. Teva, which gained 1 percent yesterday, started with a positive arbitrage gap and was then boosted even further when Senator Chuck Schumer recommended that Teva be allowed to go through the FDA's fast-track approval so that its anthrax drugs can hit the market sooner. After the TASE closed, Teva fell 3.5 percent in New York. Osem gained 1.6 percent after it announced a large, NIS 70 million dividend distribution.

Partner Communications, which registered nice gains in the last few days and became one of the most traded stocks, yesterday fell a sharp 3.6 percent on NIS 9 million volume.

Bank Hapoalim, which in the last few days generated yields much higher than the market average, shed 1.4 percent yesterday.

Pharmaceutical manufacturer Agis Industries has gained 30 percent since mid-September, with imminent FDA approval and thanks to its exclusive distribution rights for Bayer's anthrax medication.

Israel Salt Industries plunged 5 percent on an extraordinarily large volume of NIS 1.5 million. The company has lost 41 percent of its value in the last year.

Nice Systems made the highest jump on the Tel-Aviv 100 index, closing 7.3 percent up. Magic Software Enterprises was the next runner up with 4 percent gains. Elite Industries, which in the last few days was doing well thanks to the Strauss family's acquisition and the restructuring plan, yesterday lost 1.4 percent on NIS 3 million volume.

Dor to delist

Dor Energy will be delisted, after Alon Israel Oil Company, which holds the controling interest in Dor, has acquired 9.2 percent of the stock on the TASE. While the stock was traded at NIS 19.5 a share, Alon was offering NIS 22 per share, reflecting a company valuation of NIS 342 million.

In September this year Alon, which held at that point 89 percent in Dor, announced it was planning to take Dor off the market and proposed to buy Dor stock. Alon now controls 98.2 percent in Dor, and means to force the remaining shareholders to sell in compliance with the Securities Law.

Alon acquired the controling interest in Dor from the Dankner family in September 1999. After buying 65 percent in Dor, Alon also bought from the Dankners the controling interest in the fully-owned Dorgas.

Alon's CEO David Wiessman said a few weeks ago that because of marketing considerations the brand names Alon and Dor will remain separate. Once Dor is a fully-owned subsidiary, Alon will be able to implement its plan to restructure its assets, he added.