Swiss Stocks Climb for a Second Day as Vontobel Advances

Stocks in Switzerland climbed for a second day, reversing an earlier decline, as Vontobel Holding AG advanced after the company reported earnings that exceeded analysts’ estimates.

Vontobel posted its biggest gain in two months after announcing a 15 percent increase in full-year profit as the bank attracted new client funds. Novartis AG advanced amid speculation it may bid for MorphoSys AG. Syngenta AG dropped the most in five months after the world’s largest agrochemical company reported earnings that fell short of forecasts.

The benchmark Swiss Market Index gained 0.4 percent to 7,433.47 at the close in Zurich, rebounding from an earlier decline of as much as 0.2 percent amid political uncertainty in Italy. The gauge has rallied 9 percent this year as the Swiss franc weakened against the euro. The broader Swiss Performance Index also advanced 0.4 percent today.

“Markets are obviously still nervous and that is not surprising given where we’ve come from,” Richard Jeffrey, chief investment officer at Cazenove Capital Management Ltd. told Francine Lacqua on Bloomberg Television in London. “What is driving markets at the moment are prospects of stronger growth later on this year. That is the key.”

The volume of shares changing hands in SMI-listed companies was 16 percent greater than the average of the last 30 days, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.

Vontobel climbed 3.2 percent to 29.50 francs as the Swiss bank and brokerage that specializes in derivatives reported that net income rose to 130.6 million Swiss francs ($144 million) from 113.7 million francs a year earlier. That beat the 125 million-franc estimate of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Novartis Gains

Novartis rose 0.8 percent to 62.75 francs. Europe’s largest drugmaker may find MorphoSys an attractive takeover target, Elmar Kraus, an analyst at DZ Bank AG said in a note to clients today. Novartis’s incoming chairman, Joerg Reinhardt, sat on MorphSys’s supervisory board until 2004.

AFG Arbonia-Forster Holding AG increased 1.4 percent to

25.25 francs after selling its refrigerator unit to Metall Zug AG for an undisclosed sum. Metall Zug said it will complete the acquisition by the start of the second quarter.

“AFG is continuing with its transition process and got rid of another non-core business which used to be a profitable business in the past, but which has structurally worsened significantly in the past few months,” Patrick Appenzeller, an analyst at Helvea AG, wrote in a report today.

Syngenta, Swatch

Syngenta lost 2.1 percent to 387.10 francs after reporting earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $3.15 billion in 2012. The average analyst estimate had called for Ebitda of $3.19 billion.

Swatch Group AG declined 1.4 percent to 533.50 francs after the largest maker of Swiss watches confirmed it will stand by its decision to switch to Swiss accounting standards, even if exchange officials make the use of international accounting a requirement for inclusion in the SMI.

Chief Executive Officer Nick Hayek said that the company will continue with Swiss GAAP accounting and reporting recommendations even if it risk expulsion from the equity benchmark, Finanz & Wirtschaft reported today.

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