* Hopes that troubled Saudi telcos have turned corner
* Saudi Investment Bank drops on Oger's 2.8 pct stake sale
* Eshraq buoyed by joint venture plan with Mubadala
* Arabtec shares pull away from 6-year low on new group CFO
* Qatar's market is worst performer
By Celine Aswad
DUBAI, April 17 Two Saudi Arabian
telecommunications stocks surged on Monday on hopes that
troubled operators have finally turned the corner, while Abu
Dhabi real estate firm Eshraq was helped by a plan to tie up
with state fund Mubadala.
The Saudi stock index edged up 0.1 percent as Zain
Saudi jumped 8.9 percent and Etihad Etisalat (Mobily)
added 3.6 percent. Last week Zain reported its
first-ever quarterly net profit, and this raised hopes for
Mobily, which has also been struggling to make money.
"I believe the market is expecting Mobily to report profits
just like Zain did," said Iyad Ghulam, senior equity analyst at
"But I don't expect the company to be able to report strong
growth in sales as Zain did, and costs may remain relatively
high," Ghulam added. NCB Capital has forecast Mobily will post a
small loss of 50 million riyals ($13.3 million) for the three
months to March 31.
Saudi banks started strongly but then came well off their
highs. Mid-sized Bank Aljazira, which jumped as much
as 2.6 percent early in the day after its first-quarter earnings
beat expectations, closed 0.9 percent lower.
Aljazira made a net profit of 216 million riyals; NCB
Capital had expected 184 million riyals and EFG Hermes, 165
million riyals. Profit plunged 43.3 percent from a year earlier,
but the bank said this was because of a 209 million riyal
special gain from a land sale in the year-earlier period.
Shares in bigger banks Al Rajhi and Riyad Bank
traded higher early in the day but closed flat. Al
Rajhi, which reported quarterly earnings in line with forecasts,
had dropped 2.3 percent on Sunday on news that it was among
Saudi companies being sued by U.S. insurers over the Sept. 11,
Riyad Bank's first quarter net profit fell 10.8 percent to
1.05 billion riyals but was ahead of the average analyst
forecast of 876.5 million riyals.
Saudi Investment Bank, the worst performing
lender, lost 1.8 percent. Before the start of trade, exchange
data showed financially troubled construction company Saudi Oger
had sold a 2.8 percent stake in the bank, bringing its stake
down to 5.8 percent. The buyers of the stake were not revealed.
In Abu Dhabi, Eshraq Properties, whose shares came
under pressure last week on news that the emirate's property
prices were softening, rebounded 1.8 percent after Abu Dhabi
government fund Mubadala said it was considering
forming a venture with the loss-making real estate developer.
This would involve developing land in Abu Dhabi owned by
Mubadala on Al Maryah Island, where a new financial free zone is
located, and by Eshraq on Al Reem Island.
First Abu Dhabi Bank, the United Arab Emirates'
largest lender, added 2.8 percent; the stock is up 7.8 percent
since the bank was formed in a merger on April 1. The Abu Dhabi
index was the region's best performer on Monday, adding
In Dubai, loss-making builder Arabtec rose 3.2
percent, pulling away from a six-year low after Arabtec hired a
new chief financial officer, Peter Pollard, who will oversee its
recapitalisation programme. At a shareholder meeting on Tuesday,
Arabtec will seek investor approval for a 1.5 billion dirham
($408 million) rights issue.
Arabtec's rebound helped the Dubai stock index
close 0.3 percent higher.
In Doha, real estate firms and banks were the main drags on
the index, which fell 0.9 percent. Ezdan Holding Group
was the worst performer, dropping 3.4 percent, while
the largest bank, Qatar National Bank, fell 2.1
Egypt's bourse was closed for a public holiday.
* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 7,012 points.
* The index rose 0.3 percent to 3,464 points.
* The index climbed 1.2 percent to 4,545 points.
* The index fell 0.9 percent to 10,336 points.
* The index fell 0.7 percent to 6,920 points.
* The index edged down 0.1 percent to 5,544 points.
* The index added 0.1 percent to 1,346 points.
(Editing by Andrew Torchia)