Russia Stocks Snap Two-Day Gain as Rostelecom to Inter RAO Slump

Russian stocks fell for the first time in three days after a report fueled speculation that the country’s biggest fixed-line phone operator may reduce its minority buyout ratio.

The Micex Index retreated 0.2 percent to 1,504.24 by the close in Moscow, after earlier gaining as much as 0.7 percent. OAO Rostelecom declined 2.7 percent to 112.01 rubles, the most since Nov. 26, while Russia’s state-run electricity exporter OAO Inter RAO UES fell 2.2 percent to 1.10 kopeks.

Rostelecom may set its minority buyout ratio at about 28 percent, Interfax reported today, citing people it didn’t identify. That’s below the 39 percent rate reported by Vedomosti yesterday. Inter RAO probably won’t pay a 2013 dividend after a loss under Russian accounting standards, Interfax reported Feb. 17, citing Chief Executive Officer Boris Kovalchuk.

“Rostelecom is falling because the buyout coefficient reported today is lower than the one Vedomosti” reported, Stanislav Kopylov, who helps manage 45 billion rubles ($1.3 billion) at UralSib Asset Management in Moscow, said by phone. “This is not the stock worth playing at the moment.”

Shareholders at Rostelcom voted to transfer the company’s mobile assets worth 19.5 billion rubles to T2 RTK Holding JV at an extraordinary general meeting Dec. 30. The company needs to buy out those who abstained or voted against the reorganization.

OAO Gazprom advanced 1.2 percent to 153 rubles, the highest since Oct. 22. The natural gas producer’s European market share rose to a record 30 percent last year, Interfax reported yesterday, citing the company’s Eurobond presentation.

Ruble’s Slump

OAO Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel gained 1.4 percent to 6.99 rubles after dropping 29 percent last year. OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel added 0.6 percent to 5,810 rubles.

The ruble’s 7.1 percent slump versus the dollar this year is increasing exporters’ local-currency proceeds from overseas sales and bolstering profit margins.

“The ruble has experienced great weakness this year and oil remains at high levels -- this combination boosts export-oriented stocks,” Mansur Mammadov, a money manager at Kazimir Partners Ltd. in Moscow, said by phone today.

The Micex is up 3.4 percent in February, supported by better-than-expected Chinese trade data and remarks by Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen that the U.S. economy is improving. West Texas Intermediate crude oil gained 0.9 percent to $101.21, the first increase in three trading days.

The dollar-denominated RTS Index dropped 0.3 percent to 1,343.62. The ruble’s performance against the dollar this year is the worst after Argentina’s peso among 24 developing countries tracked by Bloomberg. The ruble fell 0.2 percent against Bank Rossii’s target basket of dollars and euros to 41.1768, a record low.

Russian equities have the cheapest valuations among 21 developing nations monitored by Bloomberg, with shares on the Micex trading at 3.2 times projected 12-month earnings, compared with a multiple of 9.3 for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

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