CSE slumps in nervous trade

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Share prices nose-dived on Tuesday by 3% amid intense nervousness with investors rushing to book their recent gains as sentiment in the market changed following steep losses recorded by the shares of BOC in Greece last week.

BOC shares closed 2.8% lower on Tuesday at CYP 1.79 ahead of the announcement of results by the Bank on Thursday, and at a time when its shares were trading stable at EUR 3.14-16 or CYP 1.83-1.84 per share in Greece.

“People are scared for no apparent reason, which why they are heading for the exits,” said one broker, describing the mood on the CSE.

The 3.8% plunge by Laiki Bank (CPB), which last week had reported exceptionally well results, plus 3 cent per share dividend was even more surprising. Laiki ended Tuesday at CYP 1.28.

Most other stocks followed the lead of the banks lower. In the case of Louis Public Co. Ltd. (LUI), which reported a spectacular increase in 2004 profits to CYP 9.4 mln, its shares lost only by 0.95% to 20.8 cent. Hellenic Bank (HB) meanwhile closed 1.5% lower at 38 cent.

The CSE GENX closed 2.84% lower at 84.82 points, the FTSE/CySE 20 large cap index was down 2.88% at 394.18 points, while the CSE Main/Parallel market index ended 2.84% lower at 1176.50 points. Total volume during Tuesday’s trading amounted to CYP 1.04 mln on 1399 trades, according to AGFN, the CSE data provider with the ratio of declining to gaining stocks 7 to 1. According to AGFN, 62 titles closed lower, 104 were unchanged while only 9 managed to gain.

BOC profits seen at CYP 40.5 mln

Market attention is expected to turn to the Thursday announcement of the results of Bank of Cyprus (BOC), with analysts forecasting gains of CYP 40.5 mln.

EFG Eurobank in its first update on BOC, is forecasting 2004 profits at CYP 42.5 mln with a good possibility for a declaration of 3-4 cents per share dividend.

Christos Hadjichristodoulou, Head of Research at CLR is forecasting BOC 2004 net profits at CYP 37.7 mln, including about CYP 5 mln in investment related losses, and expects the payment of 4 cents per share dividend.

Constantinos Kypreos, Head of Research at SFS is forecasting BOC 2004 net profits at CYP 36 mln, and expects 3-4 cent per share dividend, which will act as a sweetener before the Bank proceeds with a rights issue to boost its Tier 1 capital.

Elina Kyriakidou, Head of Research at Egnatia is forecasting BOC profits at CYP 45.6 mln, and expects a minimum 3 cent per share dividend. The Cypriot analyst forecasts together with the forecast by Eurobank gives an average CYP 40.5 mln in expected profits for BOC compared to CYP 28.8 mln net losses reported for 2003.