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Russian Stocks Rise Most in Three Weeks as Sberbank Advances

Nov. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Russian stocks increased the most in three weeks as OAO Sberbank, the nation’s biggest lender, rallied on plans to double profit in the next five years.

The Micex Index added 1.1 percent to 1,500.41 by the close in Moscow, the most since Oct. 18. The gauge dropped to the lowest in a month yesterday. Sberbank, which has the second-biggest weighting in the Micex, rose 2.4 percent in Moscow and 2.5 percent in London. OAO Gazprom, the nation’s biggest company, climbed 1.1 percent to 146.47 rubles.

Sberbank plans to double profit and assets in 2014 through 2018 as it cuts 30,000 employees and closes 20 to 25 percent of branches, according to a strategy presentation today. The Micex slumped yesterday as improving U.S. data damped optimism for continued stimulus from the Federal Reserve.

“Sberbank’s strategy is very ambitious and aggressive,” Mark Rubinstein, head of research at IFC Metropol, said by phone from Moscow. “They’re forecasting really high profit growth. They plan to boost their effectiveness while cutting costs. This will lift shares.”

Gazprom rallied after JPMorgan Chase & Co. raised it to the equivalent of buy, citing prospects for a gas contract with China and switching to a dividend payout based on international reporting standards, according to an e-mailed note.

Gazprom fell 1.8 percent yesterday after Interfax reported Ukraine’s state-run energy company halted purchases from the natural-gas exporter.

“The inability to reach a compromise on the issue in the near-term would be negative for Gazprom,” VTB Capital analysts led by Dmitry Loukashov said in an e-mailed note.

Bourse Rises

OAO Moscow Exchange increased 3.5 percent to 64.70 rubles after MSCI Inc. said last week it’s adding the nation’s main bourse to its Russia Index, effective Nov. 27.

Brent fell 0.6 percent to $107 in London, while West Texas Intermediate crude oil traded 0.3 percent lower at $94.89 in New York. Russia receives about half of its budget revenue from oil and natural gas sales. The Micex retreated last week as Russia cut its average annual economic growth forecast to 2.5 percent through 2030 and the nation’s central bank left its main lending rates unchanged for a 14th month.

The RTS Index gained 0.7 percent to 1,437.37. Russian equities have the cheapest valuations among 21 emerging economies monitored by Bloomberg, with shares on the Micex trading at 4.2 times projected 12-month earnings, compared with a multiple of 10.6 for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ksenia Galouchko in Moscow at kgalouchko1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Wojciech Moskwa at wmoskwa@bloomberg.net

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