Sri Lanka stocks close down 0.9-pct, rupee stronger

Jan 29, 2013 (LBO) – Sri Lanka stocks closed down 0.9 percent Tuesday with retailers and foreign investors taking profits, while the rupee gained with foreign inflows, brokers and dealers said. Over the past few months, companies such as Nestle have seen steep gains, with foreign investor interest also seen, but once prices have risen even well-managed company may be less attractive than another firm which has better value, he says.

Ceylon Tobacco Company, a firm with a near monopoly and high cash dividends which made steep gains over the past year fell 38.40 rupees to 840.40.

DFCC Bank closed flat at 125 rupees, Distilleries fell 2.00 rupees to close at 183.00 and Commercial Bank closed down 10 cents at 104.90 rupees.

The Colombo All Share Index closed at 5,800 points down 54 points and the S&P SL20 Index close down 8.9 points at 3,185.76 down 0.28 percent. Turnover was 1.35 billion rupees.

In forex markets the rupee strengthened to as much as 126.50/60 levels against the US dollar in the spot market from 127.10/15 levels with foreign inflows coming into government bonds, dealers said. In late trading the rupee was quoted around 127.65/70 rupees to the dollar.

Colombo’s stocks had gained around 5 percent over the past months and is taking a breather with some uncertainty also creeping in with possible US action at the United Nations over rights violations and rule of law, brokers said.

“Market went through a decent rally and some retailers and foreign investors are taking profits,” Abhishek Kalupathirana, an analyst at Lanka Securities, a Colombo brokerage said.

“But even today we saw foreign interest in some stocks like Sampath and JKH.”

Sampath gained 5.40 to close at 219.60 rupees. JKH closed at 225.10 rupees up 10 cents.

Kalupathirana says investors should look at value stocks instead of going by herd instinct.

For example investors can look at industries as a whole such as dairy, construction and tourism which there has been recognized by the government for rapid expansion, which have potential to grow.

“The dairy industry for example, the government wants the country to be self-sufficient in dairy production by 2016,” he says.

“However, we should remember that all businesses have risks attached to it.”