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Sri Lanka tile shares rise on earnings outlook

Feb 14, 2008 (LBO) - Sri Lankan shares closed virtually flat Thursday with investors chasing stocks of ceramic tile firms expected to report higher earnings on strong demand from the construction sector, brokers said. The All Share Price Index ended just one and a half points down at 2,505.90 while the more liquid Milanka index eased 0.

25 points to end at 3,149.25 with turnover falling to 179 million rupees.

"There was a lot of interest in the tiles sector and also a bit of foreign interest in certain stocks," said Arjuna Dassanayake of DFCC Stockbrokers.

Trading in Royal Ceramics, which has had strong sales and is expected to report higher earnings for the last quarter, dominated the day's transactions.

The stock closed up 1.25 rupees at 40.25 rupees on the volume weighted average price with 758,000 shares changing hands, adding 30 million rupees to the day's turnover.

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Royal Ceramics traded between 39 and 42 rupees and brokers said investors appeared to be collecting the stock

"There was a lot of interest in collecting the stock at 39.75," said a broker. "There was a seller for 250,000 at 40.

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The stock has been moving up since mid-January."

Brokers said there was also interest in other tiles companies like Lanka Tiles and Lanka Walltile, both expected to benefit from the construction boom.

Lanka Walltile ended up 50 cents at 65 rupees with 125,700 shares traded.

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Lanka Walltile dominated the previous day's trading with 2.54 million shares changing hands.

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Investors also chased after Colombo Dockyard, expected to report higher earnings from ship building and repair.

The stock closed up 1.50 at 68.50 rupees with 146,500 shares transacted.

Foreign funds were believed to be buying into NDB and Sri Lanka Telecom towards the end of the day, brokers said.

And there was a lot of retail interest and institutional interest in plantations stocks which are enjoying high prices for tea, rubber and palm oil.

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