* Strong Emaar results lift Dubai; Arabtec soars
* Banks’ earnings support Abu Dhabi
* Qatar’s rise slows as volume drops
* Telecoms weigh on Saudi Arabia
* Result of Omantel offer dampens Oman
By Olzhas Auyezov
DUBAI, April 23 (Reuters) - Dubai’s bourse led gains in the Gulf on Wednesday, lifted by strong first-quarter results and other positive news from listed companies, while Abu Dhabi and Qatar edged up.
The Dubai benchmark rose 2.3 percent on increasing volume, bringing its gains this year to 52.4 percent. Lender Emirates NBD was one of the main drivers, jumping 4.8 percent ahead of the publication of its quarterly report, due on Thursday.
Real estate developer Emaar Properties gained 1.9 percent after its quarterly earnings matched analysts’ strong estimates on Tuesday.
Shares in construction firm Arabtec Holding soared 10.7 percent after the company outlined ambitious expansion hopes and presented new projects at a major real estate exhibition in Abu Dhabi.
The company’s chief executive Hasan Ismaik was quoted as saying by local media on Tuesday that Arabtec hoped to buy a European construction firm specialising in oil and gas, which he did not name, and separately list its core construction division on the stock exchange.
Arabtec presented projects worth a total of 14 billion dirhams ($3.8 billion) at the exhibition, and is in talks with the Abu Dhabi government to build large areas of lower-income housing there, the media reported.
“There is a lot of speculation on the name - it is in demand from local retail investors,” said Sebastien Henin, head of asset management at The National Investor. “The newsflow is very rich from the company and that’s why it attracts a lot of attention.”
However, at its all-time closing high of 8.71 dirhams, the stock has more than tripled in price this year and now trades above fair value estimates issued by some of analysts. NBK Capital last month put its 12-month target price for Arabtec at 5.40 dirhams, while Naeem saw it at 7.12 dirhams.
“It is getting much riskier to trade on these levels,” Shiv Prakash, senior techical analyst at NBAD Securities, said of Arabtec in a note. “In such parabolic moves the trend becomes unpredictable and the sharp move up ends suddenly just as the last greedy traders jump in at the top.”
Shares in conglomerate Dubai Investments rose 1.9 percent after the company said it expected its first-quarter net profit to rise 26 percent. Also, the firm’s shareholders on Wednesday agreed to increase its foreign ownership cap to 35 percent from 20 percent.
Contractor Drake and Scull edged up 1.1 percent after winning a $40 million contract in Algeria.
Abu Dhabi’s benchmark rose 0.4 percent on the back of the banking sector, which continued to report positive first-quarter results.
Shares in Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank gained 2.5 percent after it reported a 15 percent increase in first-quarter net profit on Tuesday, earning 953 million dirhams; analysts polled by Reuters had estimated an average profit of 853 million dirhams.
First Gulf Bank added 2.0 percent before posting a 27 percent jump in first-quarter net profit once trading closed on Wednesday. The bank earned 1.33 billion dirhams while analysts had expected 1.23 billion dirhams on average.
Qatar’s bourse, which hit an all-time closing high on Tuesday, edged up again, but just by 0.2 percent as half of the 20 stocks in the index closed lower and trading value halved.
Al Khalij Commercial Bank was the biggest loser, falling 8.4 percent. The lender reported its first-quarter profit at 109.2 million riyals on Wednesday, down from 131.5 million riyals a year ago and below Qatar National Bank’s estimate of 125.4 million riyals.
Shares in Ezdan Holding, which are not included in the main index, jumped their daily limit of 10 percent for the third session in a row. The firm, established and chaired by members of Qatar’s ruling al-Thani family, bought a stake of more than 20 percent in Islamic investment firm Islamic Holding Group last month and investors expect it to make more sharia-compliant investments.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s bourse edged down 0.6 percent and telecommunications firms were among the main drags. Shares in Saudi Telecom Co fell 3.3 percent after it reported on Tuesday a 54 percent jump in first-quarter profit to 2.39 billion riyals, while analysts had expected 2.70 billion riyals.
Etihad Etisalat (Mobily), the kingdom’s No.2 telecommunications operator, fell 0.6 percent. The firm also missed forecasts with a 4.5 percent increase in first-quarter net profit on Monday. Mobily, an affiliate of United Arab Emirates-based Etisalat, earned 1.4 billion riyals while analysts polled by Reuters had on average forecast it would make 1.52 billion riyals.
Oman’s main index slipped 0.5 percent partly because of Omantel, which edged down 0.3 percent after the government announced the result of the second and final part of its offer of a 19 percent stake in the company. The two-week retail tranche, which closed on April 13, was only 1.05 times subscribed.
* The index rose 2.3 percent to 5,135 points.
* The index gained 0.4 percent to 5,212 points.
* The index added 0.2 percent to 12,962 points.
* The index edged down 0.6 percent to 9,546 points.
* The index slid 0.4 percent to 7,454 points.
* The index climbed 0.1 percent to 1,399 points.
* The index slipped 0.5 percent to 6,781 points.
* The index rose 0.3 percent to 8,295 points. (Editing by Andrew Torchia)