Israel's Walking Wounded Stocks

by: Shlomo Greenberg

The recent market decline has made a whole list of Israeli stocks attractive. Let’s take a look at a few of the top Israeli stocks that have taken a beating of late. I will only consider companies with high sales revenue, and not in order of importance.

Elbit Medical Imaging (Nasdaq: EMITF) is still, in my view, one of the most interesting holding companies over the long term. I don’t take any notice of the latest quarterly reports since, to the best of my judgment, there are some values here that are only just beginning to come to the surface, with the principal value still unknown to investors and to those analysts that do not cover the company. From the technological standpoint, InSightec (in the short term), and Gamida-Cell (in the long term), are diamonds whose polishing process has only just begun.

Elbit Systems (Nasdaq: ESLT) is a company that will continue to rack up ever larger profits, as long as the specter of terrorism prevails. I expect the general wave of acquisitions to continue, as the government finally gets its act together and starts sorting out the defense industries. Again, this is a long-term investment, although in contrast to its step-sister Elbit Medical Imaging, Elbit Systems’ stock is still at the values of the beginning of 2005.

Ever since CEO Yossi Shiran and First Israel Mezzanine Investors Fund [FIMI] joined the company, I have lived in the belief that the progress I have seen in Tefron Ltd. (NYSE: TFR) is the only beginning, despite the stock having almost tripled in value. This is a supplier to leading fashion companies, an efficient company with excellent management. It is one of the big companies, with sales in excess of $200 million. The stock has not fallen much from its high and I would rather see it go down a bit more, but this shouldn’t make any difference to investors who are in for the long haul.

Elron Electronic Industries (Nasdaq: ELRN) is, without doubt, at a good price economically, and this has something to do with Given Imaging (Nasdaq: GIVN), which has fallen drastically. Elron has a few more good things besides Given Imaging, which, I feel, is going through a temporary crisis that it will eventually overcome.

Retalix (Nasdaq: RTLX) is currently at 14% below its April high, and I am known as one of those who believe in this company. It has top-rate management, and operates in a field with great potential, and it is also a potential acquisition target.

Check Point (Nasdaq: CHKP) is still the cheapest stock, economically, of all the leading Israeli stocks. A dividend on the stock will create a bottom price, and the fact that the company fails to realize this is regrettable, but with or without a dividend, this is a worthwhile investment economically.

Amdocs (NYSE: DOX), Comverse Technology (Nasdaq: CMVT), Marvell Technology Group (Nasdaq: MRVL), Zoran Corp. (Nasdaq: ZRAN), NDS Group (Nasdaq: NNDS), and DSP Group (Nasdaq: DSPG), are all excellent investments for those people who seize opportunity while prices are lower. Comverse, despite all the problems, NDS and Marvell are the best candidates for buying.

Without denigrating any of the aforementioned companies, Orbotech (Nasdaq: ORBK) should, I feel, be one of the leading investments for those of you that have to money to invest. The company will provide details on its situation at its analysts’ conference, due to be held next week. Orbotech is an excellent, growing company, with a mountain of cash, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that acquisitions are in the offing later this year.

Alvarion (Nasdaq: ALVR), AudioCodes (Nasdaq: AUDC), M-Systems Flash Disk Pioneers (Nasdaq: FLSH), and ECtel (Nasdaq: ECTX), are my favorite stocks, with ECtel a new addition to the list.

I’ll end with NICE Systems (Nasdaq: NICE; TASE: NICE), a stock that's a must for any Israeli stock portfolio, but which is currently too expensive for my taste compared to the price of other stocks. So it might be worth waiting for the next drop in the market.

The above recommendations were made by a person/s working in the investment industry who may hold positions in securities mentioned in the column. This column should not be taken as advice to buy, sell or continue to hold any securities, and anyone acting on the advice of this column does so at his or her own risk.