Bloomberg News

Hacker Attacks a Boon for Nice as ADRs Rally: Israel Overnight

February 15, 2012

Feb. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Nice Systems Ltd. is posting the best start to a year since 2007 amid speculation it will report record net income as an increase in corporate Internet attacks boosted demand for the Israeli technology company’s products.

Nice climbed 1 percent to $36.72 in New York yesterday, extending its advance in 2012 to 6.6 percent. The Ra’anana, Israel-based maker of digital surveillance and monitoring systems will probably report adjusted net income today of $133 million for 2011, according to the median estimate of six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The Bloomberg Israel-US 25 Index of the largest Israeli companies traded in New York fell 0.4 percent yesterday. Nice shares in Israel rose 0.9 percent at 10:04 a.m. in Tel Aviv as the TA-Index increased 0.9 percent.

Companies from Sony Corp. to Citigroup Inc. have been targeted in web attacks in the past year, with about $37 billion lost to online fraud or theft in 2010, according to Javelin Strategy & Research. Sales of computer applications used to recover fraudulent payments will rise 9 percent annually through 2015, Interactive Data Corp. estimates show.

“They’re at the right place at the right time in terms of market dynamics,” Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets & Co., said by telephone from New York. Demand from customers such as Citigroup and BT Group Plc, the U.K.’s largest fixed-line phone company, will have supported Nice’s profit, he said.

The Bloomberg Israel-US 25 Index fell to the lowest level in a month, after U.S. retail sales growth trailed analysts’ estimates and European officials signaled Greece has not yet done enough to qualify for a second bailout.

Teva’s Revenue

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., the world’s biggest maker of generic drugs, said today fourth-quarter profit rose 23 percent, boosted by last year’s acquisition of U.S. drugmaker Cephalon Inc. Earnings excluding some costs climbed to $1.4 billion from $1.1 billion a year earlier. Profit matched the average estimate of $1.59 a share from 25 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

The company announced on Jan. 2 that Jeremy Levin, formerly of drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., will replace Shlomo Yanai as chief executive after its U.S.-traded shares plunged 23 percent last year, the most since 2006.

“The fourth quarter earnings are not that interesting,” Gilad Alper, an analyst at Excellence Nessuah Investment House Ltd., said by telephone from Tel Aviv. “Everyone is waiting to see what will the company look like under the management of Levin and what will be his strategy.”

Teva’s shares in Israel gained 1.3 percent to 166 shekels, or the equivalent of $44.48. The American depositary receipts fell 1.1 percent to $43.52 yesterday.

Sony Attacked

Nice spent a record amount on acquisitions last year, following the $150 million purchase of Merced Systems Inc., whose fraud detection technology is used by companies including Coca-Cola Co., and Dell Inc.

Sony, the world’s second-largest maker of video-game machines, saw its worst hacker attacks in April, when intruders compromised more than 100 million customer accounts in the second-largest online data breach in U.S. history. Sony suspended those services until July and budgeted 14 billion yen ($178 million) in costs last year.

Citigroup, the third-largest U.S. bank, said about 3,400 customers lost about $2.7 million when their credit-card information was accessed by computer hackers last year.

Increased demand for customer-service software from companies such as BT Grouphas also shored up Nice’s profit, according to Daniel Meron, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in Tel Aviv who rates the stock “outperform.”

“Nice continues to benefit from ongoing investments in customer interaction to improve service and contact-center efficiencies,” Meron wrote in an e-mailed report sent yesterday.

Syneron ‘Buy’

The company’s Tel Aviv shares climbed to 137.5 shekels, or the equivalent of $36.85.

Israel, whose population of 7.8 million is similar to the size of Switzerland’s, has about 60 companies traded on the Nasdaq, the most of any country outside the U.S. after China. It is also home to the largest number of startup companies per capita in the world.

Syneron Medical Ltd., the Israeli company that develops aesthetic medical devices, climbed for a third day in New York, rising 1.2 percent to $10.92.

Shares of the Yokneam Illit, Israel-based company were rated “buy” in initial coverage at Cantor Fitzgerald LP.

PROLOR Biotech Ltd., a biopharmaceutical company, climbed 2.3 percent to $6.64 in the U.S. yesterday. The shares in Israel gained 0.5 percent to 24.53 shekels, or the equivalent of $6.57, after rising 3 percent yesterday.

The company reported positive results in animal testing for its hemophilia drug, according to a statement issued yesterday.

--With assistance from Claudia Maedler in Dubai. Editors: Marie- France Han, Emma O’Brien.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tal Barak Harif in New York at tbarak@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Emma O’Brien at eobrien6@bloomberg.net


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