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Babylon Surges as Union Bank Upgrades to Buy: Tel Aviv Mover

Babylon Ltd. advanced to the highest level in a month as Union Bank of Israel Ltd. upgraded the Israeli software provider’s shares to buy on bets sales will grow despite changes to its advertising pact with Google Inc.

Shares of Babylon, which has an revenue-sharing relationship with Google, advanced 3.3 percent to 20.41 shekels, the highest since March 18, at the close in Tel Aviv. Today’s volume 1.5 times the three-month daily average. The TA-25 benchmark index declined 1.2 percent.

Shares of the Or Yehuda company, which more than doubled last year, have declined 4 percent this year on concern that a change in the relationship with Google will hurt revenue. Sales may post a “sharp drop” in the first quarter from the previous three months due to a decline in the number of users, according to Union Bank estimates.

The Google policy change “dealt a light blow” to the company, Beni Dekel, an analyst at Union Bank wrote in an investor note today. “The company is expected to return to growth already at the beginning of the second quarter of the year.”

Google is Babylon’s largest revenue-sharing partner, contributing 83 percent of 2012 sales, Babylon said in a filing in February. Babylon reported fourth-quarter revenue of 214 million shekels, an 8 percent gain from 198 million shekels in the previous quarter.

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