Asian stocks rise to record on LG electronics profit, metals

July 21, 2007 - 0:0

HONG KONG (Bloomberg) -- Asian stocks rose, pushing a regional benchmark to a record, after LG Electronics Inc. and Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. reported better-than-expected earnings, and metals prices climbed.

LG, Asia’s No. 2 cell phone maker, jumped the most in 19 months. BHP Billiton, the world’s largest miner, gained after copper prices climbed the most in a month. Nippon Steel Corp., Asia’s biggest producer, posted its best two-day gain since September 2005. “LG Electronics showed us good earnings, chip prices are on the rise, and we’re heading into the high-demand season,” said Yang Jeung Won, who oversees $6.6 billion at Samsung Investment Trust Management Co. in Seoul. “Resource stocks will show a firm upward trend as prices rise along with the recovery in global economies.” The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia Pacific Index added 0.8 percent to 159.96 at 7:08 p.m. in Tokyo, surpassing its previous record close of 159.50 on July 13. This week, it’s gained 0.3 percent. China’s CSI 300 Index was the best-performing benchmark in the region, climbing 4.3 percent to its highest this month. All markets open for trading advanced, with key indexes in Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, and South Korea all setting new highs. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average gained 0.2 percent. Honda Motor Co. gained after U.S. earnings reports damped concern a housing slump is eroding demand in the world’s biggest economy. Technology stocks in the U.S. yesterday rallied on earnings from International Business Machines Corp., sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to a record and the Dow Jones Industrial Average over 14,000 for the first time. -------- Samsung electronics LG jumped 6.5 percent to 78,600 won, its largest advance since December 2005. Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Kyobo Securities Co. both raised their ratings on the stock to “buy” from “neutral,” according to research notes released today. LG reported second-quarter net income of 384.6 billion won ($420 million), compared with a loss of 9.7 billion won a year earlier. That beat the 248 billion won forecast by analysts in a Bloomberg News survey. Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s third-largest cell phone maker, gained 3.9 percent to 661,000 won. Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Taiwan’s biggest electronics company by sales, rose 4.5 percent to NT$289. A measure of technology-related stocks on MSCI’s Asian benchmark rose 1.5 percent. It gained 0.4 percent yesterday, snapping a three-day drop, after IBM’s second-quarter earnings eased concern that industry profitability might decline. ---------- “Plus for resources” IBM, the world’s biggest computer-services company, and Seagate Technology, the world’s largest maker of computer disk drives, this week posted sales for the period that beat analyst estimates. IBM also raised its earnings forecast for this year. In India, Ranbaxy rose 0.3 percent to 352.55 rupees. The nation’s No. 2 drugmaker said July 19 profit more than doubled to 2.64 billion rupees ($65 million) in the last quarter, beating the 1.73 billion rupee prediction of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. Melbourne-based BHP added 1.9 percent to A$38.40. Rio Tinto Group, the world’s third-biggest mining company, gained 2.5 percent to A$99.90. Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Japan’s biggest nickel producer, jumped 6.7 percent to 3,190 yen. Copper futures in New York rose 2.8 percent on July 19. A measure of six metals including copper, nickel and zinc traded on the London Metal Exchange gained 2.1 percent. Both measures posted their biggest gains since June 11, after China reported the fastest economic growth in 12 years. “Metals are responding to China’s growth and speculation in the sector about takeovers so that’s a plus for resources stocks,” said Hans Kunnen, who helps manage $117 billion at Colonial First State Global Asset Management in Sydney. -------- Japanese steelmakers Korea Zinc Co., the world’s second-biggest zinc smelter, climbed 5.2 percent to 204,000 won. The Seoul-based company said profit gained 7.5 percent from the previous year, beating some analysts’ estimates, on higher metal prices and increased processing fees. Nippon Steel climbed 3.7 percent to 955. The stock yesterday surged 4.7 percent yesterday after China, the world’s biggest steel consumer, reported economic growth of 11.9 percent for the second quarter. JFE Holdings Inc., Japan's No. 2 steelmaker, climbed 3.9 percent to 8,590 yen. Posco, Asia’s No. 3 producer, added 3.8 percent to 553,000 won. The South Korean company, which on July 16 reported a 55 percent increase in second-quarter profit, said today it will pay an interim dividend of 2,500 won. Separately, it announced plans to spend 1.79 trillion won boosting production of heavy steel plates and slabs to meet rising domestic demand. JFE, which reports first-quarter earnings on July 30, forecasts first-half net income will climb 12 percent on a 13 percent increase in sales. --------- Record subscribers “Steelmakers were up because of strong investor expectations that Japanese makers will report good results, just as Posco did,” said Naoki Fujiwara, who helps oversee $3.24 billion in investments at Shinkin Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. “Earnings in the U.S. confirmed its economy has stable growth.” Of 121 Standard & Poor’s 500 companies that have reported second-quarter earnings, 60 percent beat analyst estimates, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Honda, which had 55 percent of its sales in North America last business year, rose 1.8 percent to 4,550 yen. Canon Inc., the world's largest maker of digital cameras, climbed 1.8 percent to 7,200 yen. China Mobile Ltd., the world’s biggest wireless carrier by users, gained 2.5 percent to HK$93.20 in Hong Kong. The company added a record 5.53 million users in June, as it attracted customers from fixed-line competitors with lower prices