Sri Lanka investors chase plantations stocks

Feb 25, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lankan stocks closed slightly higher Monday with trading dominated by shares of plantations companies which are enjoying higher earnings owing to the boom in commodities, brokers said. The All Share Price Index gained 10.19 points or 0.41 percent to close at 2,520.98 while the more liquid Milanka index went up 5.47 points to close at 3,169.22 with turnover being 362.9 million rupees.

“There was a lot of interest in plantations,” said Arjuna Dassanayake of DFCC Stockbrokers. “Most of them have reported good results or are expected to do so.”

Kelani Valley Plantations, part of the Hayleys group, was the day’s highest gainer, ending up 12 rupees or 19 percent at 74 rupees according to the volume weighted average price with 259,000 shares changing hands.

It contributed 18.4 million rupees to the day’s turnover.

“Kelani Valley paid a good dividend and it went up significantly,” Dassanayake said.

The company paid a first and final dividend of 5.50 rupees per share.

Other heavily traded plantations stocks included Kegalle Plantations, which closed up 6.75 rupees or 12.22 percent at 62 rupees with 547,100 shares traded, adding 33.2 million rupees to the day’s turnover.

Kotagala Plantations hit an all-time high of 71 rupees but closed at 68.75, up 4.25 rupees or 6.59 percent with 204,900 shares changing hands.

Balangoda moved up 1.50 or 4.29 percent to 36.50 rupees with 718,900 shares traded, while 477,400 shares of Bogawantalawa changed hands with the stock ending up 2.25 rupees or 7.32 percent at 33 rupees. Namunukula was also among the most active stocks.

Other plantations stocks that drew interest were Maskeliya, Horana, and Agalawatte.

Trading in Ceylon Leather Products also contributed to the volume with 209,200 shares changing hands and the stock ending up 7.25 rupees or 10.90 percent at 73.75 rupees.

And Lanka Cement, the subject of speculative trading after India’s Birla group showed interest in taking over it cement plant in northern Jaffna, also saw some activity.

Its price dropped to 13.50 rupees on 100,000 shares earlier in the day but ended up 75 cents at 14.75 after a buyer came in suddenly for a large volume. Altogether some 828,000 Lanka Cement shares changed hands.

John Keells Holdings closed at up one rupee at 119, after a high of 122, when some fund buying came in towards the end of trading. .