Empresas Copec SA, Chile’s largest pulp exporter, rose to an nine-month high amid speculation that a rebound in raw material prices and an improving U.S. housing market will boost profits.
The Santiago-based company’s shares rose 1.5 percent to 7,445.6 pesos at the close in Santiago, the highest price since May 10. The benchmark Ipsa index advanced 0.4 percent.
“Pulp prices have been recovering drastically after a slump last year and that has in turn benefited Copec’s shares,” Felipe Ruiz, an analyst at Banco de Credito & Inversiones, said in an interview from Santiago.
The price of northern bleached softwood kraft pulp in Europe reached $820.22 per ton yesterday, according to FOEX Indexes Ltd, a 7.6 percent rise from a three-year low of $762.18 reached at the end of September. Copec has rebounded 15 percent since reaching a 1-year low of 6,464.5 pesos in November.
Forestry and pulp sales accounted for 62 percent of net income in 2011, a figure that fell to 22 percent in the first nine months of 2012, according to filings sent to Chile’s regulator. Copec posted a 65 percent decline in profits during the first nine months of 2012 to $248 million, the filings show.
Copec’s wood panel plant in Moncure, North Carolina, which the company bought through its forestry unit in December 2011, also is poised to benefit from a recovery in the U.S. housing industry, Ruiz said. Housing starts in the U.S. reached 954,000 in December, the highest level since June 2008, the U.S. Census Bureau said Jan. 17.