Most stocks in Switzerland declined, dragging the benchmark Swiss Market Index down from its highest level since April 2010 as Syngenta AG posted profit that beat analysts’ estimates.
Syngenta rose 4.4 percent after the world’s largest maker of agricultural chemicals reported higher-than-predicted profit and pledged to return cash to shareholders.
The Swiss Market Index of the biggest and most actively traded companies declined 0.1 percent to 6,631.64 at the 5:30 p.m. close in Zurich as three stocks fell for every two that climbed. The gauge has advanced 3 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 also dropped 0.1 percent to 5,957.99.
“The Swiss consumer stocks are trading flattish today,” said Lars Knudsen, a fund manager at LGT Capital Management Ltd. in Pfaeffikon, Switzerland. “I’m still very positive for the overall market.”
Syngenta rallied 4.4 percent to 320.50 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.”
UBS AG increased 1.5 percent to 18.52 francs after Canaccord Genuity Ltd. raised the stock to “hold” from “sell.”
Schaffhausen, Switzerland-based Georg Fischer AG advanced 4.7 percent to 549.50 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.
Julius Baer Group Ltd. sank 2.6 percent to 41.76 francs as Morgan Stanley downgraded the 121-year-old wealth manager to “equal weight” versus “overweight.”
Acino Holding AG plunged 6.6 percent to 84.45 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.