World Markets Olympic Challenge: Today's Profile - Israel


As we enter day two of the qualifying rounds, all major indices were down but Australia's ASX has taken the lead, followed by India's Bombay Sensex. Argentina and Brazil took the worst beating, down 3.8% and 3.5% respectively. Host country, China, ranks fifth from the bottom, down 2.1%. Rounding out the BRIC countries, Russia is also in the bottom three, down 2.4%.

World Markets Olympic Challenge: Leaderboard as of (8/4)

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In our poll's (vote here) early voting, many of you suggested that Israel's T25 might be in contention for a medal, despite a couple of down days. It's not surprising - Israel's economy is growing faster than many of its peers and has more companies traded on the tech heavy Nasdaq than any other country outside the United States.

Here are some stats and winning stocks from Israel.


Markets: The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange can trace its roots to trading by the Anglo-Palestine Bank in 1935 (now Bank Leumi and a constituent of the TA-25 Index). With the establisment of the state in 1948 there was a need to formalize securitues trading. By 1953, a number of banks and brokerages joined forces to form the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE).

TASE Stats (

  • Market Cap = $232 billion in Equities and $169 billion in Bonds
  • ~$5B raised on the TASE in 2007 (1/2 of which came through 56 IPOs) with foreign investors injecting $900M
  • 651 Listed companies on the TASE
  • Flagship Tel Aviv 25 Index
    • Closed Monday at 1013, down 16.8% YTD
    • Was up approximately 32% in 2007, 14% in 2006 and 37% in 2005

More than 120 Israeli companies trade on US exchanges. Here are members of the TA25 that are listed on the NYSE or the Nasdaq and their performance YTD (as of Monday's close).

  • Perrigo is up 1.7% YTD.
  • Cellcom Israel is down -.4% YTD.
  • Teva Pharmaceuticals is down -1.0% YTD.
  • Partner Communications is down -7.0% YTD.
  • Elbit Systems is down -11.5% YTD.
  • NICE Systems is down -12.6% YTD.
  • VeriFone is down -36.5% YTD.


  • Forecast GDP growth in 2008 was recently cut to 3.2%. 2007 GDP growth was 5.3%.
  • The IMF ranks Israel 44th of its 181 members in terms of GDP.
  • With 7.2 million citizens, per capita income reached about $21,000 in 2007
  • The Central Bureau of Statistics announced last week that Israel's unemployment fell to a seasonally adjusted 6.7% in Q4/07, compared with 7.2% in the preceding quarter and 7.8% in Q4/06. This is the lowest rate of unemployment in Israel since the early 1990s
  • Spending by foreign tourists in Israel totaled $2.4 billion last year, 16.5% more than in 2006. (Central Bureau of Statistics)

Investing in Israel

  • In a recent study, the IVC Research Center ( reports that the capital available for investment in the hands of Israeli VCs is now at $2 billion. In 2007, Israeli venture capital funds raised a total of $1.1 billion (including venture lending), 21% more than in 2006.
  • Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett said that the company's acquisition of the Israeli firm Iscar has worked out better than expected. Buffett said that he had very high expectations when Berkshire struck the deal, and that the metal-cutting-tool maker has "exceeded that in every way." "It's been a dream acquisition," he said.