April 24, 2017 / 1:39 PM / 3 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Mobily holds back Saudi index as Dubai drops and Egypt stabilises

5 Min Read

* Saudi's Mobily slumps on swing to net loss

* Alhokair jumps after rise in net income

* Insurance shares boosted by strong Q1 results

* Dubai weighed down by profit-taking on Union Properties

* First Abu Dhabi Bank and TAQA buoy Abu Dhabi market

* Foreign funds net buyers in Egypt

By Celine Aswad

DUBAI, April 24 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabian telecoms company Mobily slumped after worse than expected results on Monday, but the market was buoyed by stronger quarterly earnings from the insurance sector, while performance across the rest of the region was mixed.

Shares of Etihad Etisalat(Mobily) tumbled 6 percent to 21.05 riyals after it swung to a net loss of 163 million riyals ($43.47 million) in the first quarter, compared with a 20 million riyal net profit a year earlier. Average analyst expectations were a net loss of 69.39 million riyals.

Mobily attributed its third consecutive quarterly loss to a drop in revenue and higher interest and financial charges.

"The ongoing losses combined with the strong decline in sales are the key concerns," said NCB Capital, which has a "neutral" recommendation on the stock with a price target of 25 riyals.

The Riyadh index, however, rose 0.1 percent as most insurance stocks were lifted by the exceptional financial performance of two companies.

Shares in Company for Cooperative Insurance, one of the largest insurers by market value, jumped 4.1 percent after posting net profit that more than doubled to 160.3 million riyals in the three months to March 31. Malath Cooperative Insurance, meanwhile, climbed 3.3 percent after its first-quarter net income more than tripled.

Consumer cyclical shares were mixed, with home-improvement retailer Saudi Hardware Company(SACO) down 1.9 percent while bookstore and electronics seller Jarir rose by 0.6 percent, extending gains over the past two sessions to 9.1 percent.

Shares in apparel retailer Fawaz Alhokair, which were suspended on Sunday, surged 10 percent after reporting a net profit of 79.4 million riyals ($21.2 million) for its fourth quarter, beating the 3.17 million riyals a year earlier and analysts' expectation of a 61.7 million riyal net profit.

Analysts at Alrajhi Capital said an improving gross margin, which had been squeezed over the past few quarters, was encouraging and the company may be able to maintain a margin of about 20 percent in the coming quarters.

The Qatar index fell 0.4 percent, dragged lower by oil-related shares and a 2 percent drop for commodities shipper Qatar Gas Transport.

Dubai's index, which was shut on Sunday for a public holiday, was the region's worst performer, down 1.1 percent.

The main drag was profit-taking on shares of Union Properties, which had surged in unusually heavy trade in the previous session. The developer fell 3.2 percent on Monday.

In neighbouring emirate Abu Dhabi, the index added 0.2 percent with support from First Abu Dhabi Bank and gas explorer Abu Dhabi National Energy, up 1.4 percent and 3.3 percent respectively.

Investors have been building positions in TAQA on indications that the financially troubled company had turned a corner, with a state run utility increasing its stake, and as the company plans to sell some of its international assets.

Egypt's index recovered a little of the previous session's 2.8 percent loss, as foreign traders helped it to a 0.3 percent gain, exchange data showed.

Global Telecom Holding, one of the stocks favoured by international funds, was the top performer with a 3.4 percent gain.

Real estate developer Six of October Development rose 0.8 percent after reporting a 64 percent jump in first-quarter contracted sales to 1.2 billion Egyptian pounds ($66 million).

The company attributed the growth to the launching of three new projects worth 1.7 billion pounds.

Monday's Highlights

Saudi Arabia

* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 6,976 points.

Dubai

* The index declined 1.1 percent to 3,431 points.

Abu Dhabi

* The index added 0.2 percent to 4,531 points.

Qatar

* The index lost 0.4 percent to 10,154 points.

Egypt

* The index added 0.3 percent to 12,583 points.

Kuwait

* The index added 0.2 percent to 6,831 points.

Oman

* The index lost 0.1 percent to 5,467 points.

Bahrain

* The index edged down 0.1 percent at 1,336 points. ($1 = 18.1700 Egyptian pounds)

Editing by David Goodman

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