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Everyone Loves Israel's Stock Market

Rampant worldwide anti-Zionism has made Israel a universal doormat, but the world looks at Israel stocks differently: an all-time high.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 4/7/2010, 2:22 PM / Last Update: 4/7/2010, 2:36 PM

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Rampant worldwide anti-Zionism has not stopped the international community from loving Israel when it comes to its financial markets. The Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange’s popular TA 25 Index, which is heavily weighted by Teva Pharmaceuticals, reached an all-time high Tuesday.

Most global markets have reached or neared 18-month highs after the financial disaster of 2008-09 scared reporters into announcing the end of the capitalist system. Despite high unemployment rolls and bankruptcies of major companies such as General Motors and the Lehman Brothers financial house, stock markets generally are soaring, with Israel in the lead.

The biggest losers are those investment funds which ceded to anti-Zionist pressures and divested themselves from Israeli-based companies, many of which have been the most profitable investments in the world.

While a new high was registered in Tel Aviv, the popular Dow Jones Industrial Average in New York has risen only two-thirds from its low last year, and the indices in Tokyo, London and Japan have registered similar increases. The only major indices that have matched or outperformed Israel are the SENSEX 30 index in India, up 112 percent, and Russia’s MICEX, which has soared a whopping 192 percent from its low two years ago.

However, as soon as the TA 25 index touched its former all-time high, it quickly receded as investors took profits and others feared another bubble. The market on Wednesday is down by less than one percent.

The record high is somewhat illusory because of the strength of Teva, the Israeli firm whose generic products have made it an international star in the financial community. The stock has nearly doubled since the financial crisis, boosted by constant improvement in earnings and the continuous announcements of new products that the company says will double its sales in five years.

New York analysts also have been recommending several Israeli high-tech, defense industry and telecommunications firms that are traded on the NASDAQ exchange. The Partner and Cellcom stocks are in high favor because of a large dividend payout, up to 9 percent, which is far and beyond the near zero-interest rate in the United States.

Following the famous prediction by American stock market investor Bernard Baruch that the market “will fluctuate,” analysts are hesitant to predict the future. The Globes business site asked Israel financial executives to forecast which way the market will go, and answers generally were cautiously optimistic, with limited gains in sight.