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Disappointing earnings hit UAE, Egypt; Saudi soft

Reuters , Thursday 28 Apr 2016
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Disappointing quarterly earnings among big banks pulled down stock markets in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, while Orascom Telecom posted a big net loss that weighed on Egypt's bourse.

Abu Dhabi's index lost 1.0 percent. Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank nosedived 7.7 percent after it reported first-quarter net profit of 1.02 billion dirhams ($277.7 million), missing analysts' forecasts.

It attributed the 18.2 percent fall to a dip in income from core business and increased bad loan provisions.

"Tight liquidity in the market is escalating competition and pushing deposit costs higher," said a note by UBS Securities.

First Gulf Bank made a net profit of 1.33 billion dirhams, down 6 percent as income from fees and commissions slipped, and its shares fell 1.2 percent.

Two analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a net profit of 1.27 billion dirhams and 1.51 billion dirhams.

National Bank of Abu Dhabi retreated 1.3 percent after reporting a 10.7 percent fall in net profit to 1.27 billion dirhams. Analysts had forecast 1.28 billion and 1.45 billion.

In Dubai, the stock index pulled back 0.4 percent with Dubai Islamic Bank dropping 2.0 percent. On Wednesday it had slipped 3.6 percent after posting a 7.2 percent increase in first-quarter profit to 875.3 million dirhams.

EFG Hermes had forecast 938 million dirhams.

Other Dubai shares also fell as investors booked profits in stocks that had outperformed this week after posting better-than-expected earnings. Emaar Malls dropped 1.7 percent.

Egypt's Orascom Telecom retreated 1.3 percent after reporting a net loss of 3.6 billion Egyptian pounds ($405 million) in 2015 versus a net profit of 263.98 million pounds a year earlier.

The conglomerate's operating revenues increased 12.8 percent but its financial costs surged 209 percent as it moved into new industries such as financial services and renewable energy.

For example, in December one of OTMT's subsidiaries signed a cost-sharing agreement with a government entity to establish a solar power plant in Upper Egypt, Cairo-based Sigma Capital said in a note. "This has cost OTMT about $100 million, and revenue will not be reflected until at least 2017," Sigma added.

In November, OTMT said international sanctions against North Korea had affected its ability to control its subsidiary Koryolink there, and that it was removing the unit from its consolidated financial statements.

Cairo's main stock index pulled back 1.2 percent.

SAUDI, QATAR

In Riyadh, the index edged down 0.2 percent as investors booked profits, but still gained 3.3 percent over the week. It gained strongly early in the week after Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman announced economic reforms designed to free the kingdom from its dependence on petrodollars.

A Reuters poll of 14 leading Middle East fund managers, published on Thursday, showed mixed sentiment towards the reforms, with some looking to buy stocks that could benefit from new policy initiatives but others expecting no positive short-term impact on the market.

Builder Jabal Omar Development fell 1.9 percent after reporting a quarterly net loss of 43.99 million riyals ($11.7 million) compared with a 65.05 million riyal profit a year earlier. It cited a higher debt burden and lower sales of residential units.

Al Tayyar Travel added a further 2.6 percent after it jumped 7.7 percent on Wednesday. The Saudi economic reform plan emphasised the need to develop the tourism sector, though no details were given.

In Qatar, telecommunications operator Ooredoo rose 0.6 percent after it reported a 75 percent leap in first-quarter net profit to 879 million riyals ($241.4 million), driven by foreign exchange gains.

Analysts at EFG Hermes and SICO Bahrain had forecast 452.5 million riyals and 487 million riyals.

Barwa Real Estate reported an 80 percent fall in first-quarter net profit, but its shares jumped 5.0 percent as investors recognised the drop in earnings was mainly due to a one-off sale of real estate worth 2.7 billion riyals in the year-earlier period.

Qatar's stock index edged up 0.3 percent.

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