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Mon, 27 April 2015 14:34:19
Sri Lankan stocks dragged down by plantation earnings jitters
07 May, 2008 15:53:59
May 07, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lanka's stock market sagged Wednesday, dragged down by a sell-off of plantations shares after a regional plantations company reported sharply lower than anticipated quarterly earnings, brokers said.
The Colombo Stock Exchange All Share Index was 2.87 points lower at 2,642.63 and the more liquid Milanka Index was 6.54 points lower at 3,242.53 points.

The total turnover stood at 294.7 million rupees.

Investor sentiment was dampened with the release of Agalawatte Plantation results which showed after tax profit was 25.6 million rupees lower at 44.4 million rupees in the quarter ended March, compared to the same quarter a year back.

Agalawatte fell 9.38 percent or 4.50 rupees to 43.75 with 139,300 shares traded.

"It is a rubber plantation and most of the market was expecting the rubber companies to do well," Vajira Premawardena of LOLC Stockbrokers told LBO.

Following the rise in crude oil prices, the price of synthetic rubber also increased which creates an attractive market for natural rubber.

However, the lower earnings by Agalawatte have driven investors to speculate other plantation companies too might report lower results, prompting a sell off of plantation stock to curb losses.

"Theoretically, rubber sector companies should have better results but everything is decided on the management fee structure and overheads," Naren Godamunne of DFCC Stockbrokers told LBO.

Agalawatte Plantation's rubber tapping was affected by the excessive rain that prevailed in the March quarter.

The tapped rubber is used to produce sheet rubber which must be dried under the sun but with lesser sunshine, the firm had used electricity and fuel for drying, incurring higher energy costs.

Inflation also affected the plantation's bottom line with the rise in energy costs, administration, transportation and material costs.

Share prices of all plantations companies, except Watawala, fell.

Balangoda Plantations lost 1.25 rupees to end at 42.25 while Horana Plantations fell 2.50 rupees (5.49 percent) to 42.75.

However, tea prices have been steady during the last quarter and brokers expect better results from plantation companies dealing in tea.

Meanwhile, the share prices of Nations Trust Bank (NTB) and Commercial Bank of Ceylon, which released better March quarter results, were higher.

NTB's after tax profit for the March quarter was up 41 percent at 144.2 million rupees. The NTB share rose 2.25 rupees to 37.

Commercial Bank traded 25 cents higher at 142 rupees following a profit growth of 11.4 percent (1,024 million rupees) compared to the same quarter last year.

However, stock market activity was lower since inflation and reduced savings were affecting investors' capacity to trade.

Retail investors channel less money into buying stocks than high net worth clients, brokers say.

"They have a bit of savings which they pool in the market; if they make profits they will re-invest but they do not have (much) surpluses or reserves," Premawardena says.

"If their living costs go up, they have to channel part of their savings (what they invest in stocks) in to daily expenses."

Higher borrowing rates have also affected investor sentiment but brokers expect the market to pick up with the release of quarterly earnings.

"The political situation is factored into the market but stock prices will depend on the performance of the companies," Premawardena said.


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