Market Report / Teva Leads the Charge

Share rises of more than 1.5 percent were recorded yesterday in the leading indices on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, with a number of factors contributing to the surges: the weakening of the dollar, whose representative rate fell 0.7 percent; the rises on the European exchanges; and market assessments indicating a compromise that would allow Labor to support the first reading of the 2003 state budget.

The Maof index climbed 1.9 percent, to 333.53 points; the TA 100 rose 1.7 percent, to 328 points; and the Tel-Tech 15 inched up 0.3 percent to close at 161.45 points.

Volume on the TASE yesterday totaled some NIS 209 million.

Yesterday's most prominent share was Teva Pharmaceuticals, which surged 6.1 percent on a massive turnover of NIS 115 million - some 55 percent of the total turnover on the exchange. Teva's bravura performance followed an announcement by the Israeli drugmaker that it had received FDA approval to market its generic version of GlaxoSmithKline's blockbuster antibiotic, Augmentin, in the United States, and that it was preparing to begin selling the drug immediately.

Analysts believe that Teva is likely to up its financial forecasts for the coming quarters.

The negative momentum that had gripped the Partner Communications on Tuesday in the wake of its profit warning for the fourth quarter of 2002 continued yesterday, with the cellular company's share losing 2.7 percent. The share's weakness also stemmed from a lowering of the Swiss investment bank UBS Warburg's recommendation from "Buy" to "Hold," while slashing the target price to $4.5 - some 11 percent above the market price.

Nice Systems ended the day 3.3 percent up following publication of its Q3 financials. The company reported an increase of some 14 percent in its quarterly revenues, to around $38.5 million, and a profit for the second consecutive quarter. Nice posted a net profit of some $425,000.

First International Bank of Israel attracted an unusually high volume of NIS 11.8 million yesterday, recording a rise 1.9 percent. The bank's holding company, FIBI Holding Company, added 3.6 percent to its share value.

Bank Hapoalim was up 2.3 percent, while Leumi recorded a gain of 2.2 percent.

Tower Semiconductors lost 2 percent yesterday after the company announced, in conjunction with the release of its third-quarter financials, that it expected chip sales in Q4 to fall as much as 10 percent. Tower recorded Q3 revenues of $16.2 million - an increase of some 40 percent on the previous quarter. Tower's bottom line showed a loss of around $14.5 million.

The shares of the companies in the IDB Group joined the general upward trend on the market yesterday, with the IDB Holding rising 1.5 percent, IDB Development climbing 2.1 percent; Discount Investments up 2 percent; and Clal Industries ending the day 1.4 percent better.

The shekel strengthened against the dollar yesterday, with the greenback's representative rate set at NIS 4.746 - some 0.7 percent down on the previous rate.