Sri Lanka shares close down 0.30-pct, Rajaratnam sells JKH stake

Jan 06, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lankan stocks closed lower Wednesday, with US fund manager Raj Rajaratnam selling part of his stake in John Keells Holdings (JKH) and retailers buying into hotels stocks on increasing tourist arrivals, brokers said. Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings closed at 299.75, up five rupees, Asian Hotels & Properties ended at 107 rupees, up 3.50, and John Keells Hotels closed at 27.25, up 1.25.

Taj Lanka Hotels closed at 30.50 rupees, up 3.75, with over 2.8 million shares changing hands.

The Fortress Resorts ended at 14 rupees, up 50 cents, with 258,900 shares traded, Ceylon Hotels Corporation closed at 25.25, up 75 cents, and Riverina Hotels ended at 72.50, up 2.50.

Corrected CSE All Share closed down 0.3 percent The All Share Price Index closed at 3,509.36, down 0.30 percent (10.58 points) while the more liquid Milanka Index ended at 4,041.92, up 0.40 percent (16.26 points).

Turnover was almost six billion rupees, according to provisional stock exchange figures.

“Apart from a large JKH deal there was significant retail interest on the hotels sector,” Varuna Singapulli, research manager at NDB Stockbrokers said.

“Looking at the earnings for 2011, the forward price to earning multiples for the hotel sector is 15 times and still attractive, considering the growth prospects.”

Different stock brokering firms use different formula’s when calculating forward P/E ratio’s.

About 24.5 million shares of conglomerate JKH changed hands in an off-the-floor deal, with hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam being among the sellers, brokers said.

JKH closed at 179.50 rupees, up 50 cents, with a total of almost 27 million shares traded, accounting for a big chunk of the day’s trading turnover.

Several hotel stocks went up in price as investors bought into the sector which is enjoying full occupancy this winter season with tourist arrivals increasing since the end of the ethnic war in May.