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Swiss Stocks Fluctuate; Syngenta Rises as Profit Beats Estimates

Stocks in Switzerland fluctuated near the benchmark Swiss Market Index’s highest level since April 2010 as Syngenta AG posted profit that beat analysts’ estimates and Transocean Ltd. announced a dividend.

Syngenta rose 3.5 percent after the world’s largest maker of agricultural chemicals reported higher-than-predicted profit and pledged to return cash to shareholders. Transocean increased 1.1 percent as the owner of the drilling rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico last year said it can now pay a dividend because the Swiss authorities have changed tax laws.

The Swiss Market Index of the biggest and most actively traded companies slid 0.1 percent to 6,635.48 at 1:23 p.m. in Zurich. The gauge has advanced 3.1 percent so far this year as investors speculated that the recovery in the global economy is strengthening and as UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group AG surged. The broader Swiss Performance Index lost less than 0.1 percent to 5,963.22.

“The Swiss consumer stocks are trading flattish today,” said Lars Knudsen, fund manager at LGT Capital Management Ltd. in Pfaeffikon, Switzerland. “I’m still very positive for the overall market.”

Syngenta rallied 3.5 percent to 317.60 Swiss francs after posting net income of $1.4 billion. Analysts had predicted profit of $1.31 billion. Sales added 6 percent to $11.6 billion. The company also pledged to return $850 million in cash to shareholders.

“Expansion has been particularly rapid in emerging markets,” Chief Executive Officer Michael Mack said in a statement. “This is enabling us to implement a step change in the dividend and to plan a further share repurchase in 2011.”

Transocean Climbs

Transocean climbed 1.1 percent to 76.20 francs after Chief Executive Steven Newman announced a $750 million dividend for shareholders. A change in Swiss tax laws this year will allow the company to distribute cash to investors without incurring withholding taxes and free of regulatory involvement, Newman told analysts during a presentation today in Colorado.

Schaffhausen, Switzerland-based Georg Fischer AG advanced 2.1 percent to 536 francs. The company’s “automotive division has a strong exposure of around 50 percent of sales to the European premium car market and hence should strongly benefit from” that industry’s January sales figures, Fabian Haecki, analyst at Vontobel AG, wrote in a note to customers today.

Acino Holding AG plunged 7 percent to 84.15 francs, the largest drop in 14 weeks, after the drugmaker said in a statement that it will recall its Goserlin one-month implant from the market.

To contact the reporter on this story: Giles Broom in Zurich at gbroom@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Merritt at dmerritt1@bloomberg.net.

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