Just as it seemed that the local equity market had put its lows behind it, the BLOM Stock Index plumbed new depths this week, slumping to a new bottom of 560.41. Solidere shares, for a change, were not the only culprits, as three other stocks kept them company on their journey south. In all, seven stocks were traded, maintaining last week’s similarly distributed pattern of activity.
However, overall volume was down over 40 percent at 80,511, reflective of general investor disinterest at present. Given investors’ preference to remain on the sidelines vis-a-vis the local bourse, price movements have been clearly more discernible among Lebanese GDRs, which have displayed greater liquidity of late. All four Lebanese GDRs were on the move again this week, with one-up and three-down.
Banks were in the spotlight this week in the wake of 2000 results being released. The star performer was BLOM, posting strong profits growth in 2000, up 11 percent. Lagging behind was Audi, which saw profits go down 10 percent in 2000. GDR prices reacted to the news with that of BLOM climbing 6.9 percent to $23.25 while Audi’s GDR dropped 6.3 percent to $13.825. BLOM had also announced a buy-back of up to one-third of its GDRs. Byblos “C” accounted for some 41.9 percent of all banks’ volume, as its price shed 3.54 percent to close at $1.688 after releasing a 6.8 percent drop in net profits in 2000. BEMO joined the club of active banks this week, for the first time since November 2000, with a single shot trade of 33,455 shares at an unchanged price of $3.625, after the bank announced profits up 16.7 percent last year. The biggest fall this week was witnessed by BLC’s GDR, plunging 18.3 percent to $5.125.
Activity in Solidere reflected the generally subdued atmosphere in the market, as only a minimal 11,720 shares were traded, down 33 percent from last week’s level. Solidere shares were in a bit of a trough this week, with class “A” shedding 5.66 percent to close at $6.25 and class “B” losing 3.57 percent to end at $6.75. On the international front, the GDR plunged to a low of $5.625 on Wednesday, January 31, before recovering some ground to close at $5.825, down 1.69 percent on a weekly basis.
Lebanon Holdings made an unusual trading appearance, the first since July 2000, as 4,000 shares exchanged hands, pushing its price 25 percent down to $4.313. Bou Khalil repeated last week’s spectacle, with 240 shares traded on Thursday, leading to a 9.9 percent drop in its price to close at $1.688. — ( Lebanon Invest )
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )