Sun, Jan 11, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Asia rises; Samsung and Toshiba lead

BEATING ESTIMATES All of the region's benchmark indexes rose this week as a number of electronics manufacturers said they had outperformed expectations


Asian stocks rose this week, lifting the MSCI Asia-Pacific Index to its highest in almost three years.

Samsung Electronics Co and Toshiba Corp surged after Nokia Ojy beat its sales estimate and Sanford Bernstein & Co increased its profit forecast for Intel Corp.

The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index, which tracks 855 companies in the region, climbed 2.8 percent to 90.19, the highest since May 2001. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 2.7 percent to 10,965.95.

Both indexes climbed for a fourth week.

The outlook is "helping boost optimism for regional cellphone-related stocks," said Katsuaki Furutachi, who helps manage US$3.8 billion at Asahi Life Asset Management Co. "Chip-related stocks and component makers are generally seeing increased demand."

Singapore's Straits Times Index rose for an 11th day, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced for a 10th. They gained 3.4 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively, this week.

All regional benchmarks rose this week. The Philippine Stock Exchange Composite Index was the biggest gainer, surging 6 percent.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Information Technology Index led gains among industry groups, climbing 7.1 percent.

South Korea's Samsung Electronics jumped 13 percent to 508,000 won, a record. The company, which lags only Nokia and Motorola Inc in mobile-phone sales, is expected by brokerages such as Credit Suisse First Boston to report a record quarterly profit next week.

Daiwa Institute of Research raised the company to "outperform" from "neutral" on Friday.

US stocks fell on Friday after a government report showed the economy added fewer jobs than forecast last month and manufacturing employment dropped. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had its biggest decline in almost three months.

For the week, the Dow still gained 0.5 percent, while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index advanced 1.2 percent, and the NASDAQ Composite Index jumped 4 percent.

Nokia, which has more than a third of the global handset market, said fourth-quarter sales were little changed, instead of an earlier estimate for a decline.

Nokia's announcement suggests "consumer spending is picking up," said Jan Lee, who helps manage US$33 billion for the Geneva-based European Financial Group in Singapore as its chief Asian strategist.

"Perhaps the most bullish earnings forecasts may be met." Japan's Murata Manufacturing Co, the world's biggest maker of ceramic capacitors used to regulate electricity in mobile phones, jumped 12 percent to ¥6,510 this week.

Kyocera Corp, Japan's largest maker of mobile phones using a format developed by Qualcomm Inc, climbed to ¥7,820, for an 11 percent gain.

Intel, the world's largest computer chipmaker, will get more profit from its factories as business spending on personal computers accelerates this year, said Adam Parker, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein.

Parker, who was named by Institutional Investor magazine to its All-America Research Team last year, increased his profit estimate for the year for Intel by US$0.07 to US$1.27.

Toshiba, the world's third-largest computer chipmaker behind Intel and Samsung Electronics, jumped 13 percent.

Toshiba expects total personal computer production shipments to rise 16 percent to 4.6 million units this fiscal year.

In Singapore, ST Assembly Test Services Ltd, the world's fourth-largest maker of chip testers, rose 5.4 percent this week, while Venture Corp., the island's largest electronics maker for companies such as Hewlett-Packard Co., had a 4.5 percent gain.

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