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Swiss firms expect stock market jitters

Kuoni shareholders will be hoping for a stock market recovery this week

(Keystone)

Several major Swiss companies are likely to see their share prices fluctuate this week as the markets take stock of half-year results and developments at firms such as Swissair and Kuoni.

Swissair saw its share price take off at the end of last week after the company's chairman, Mario Corti, unveiled plans to return the group to profit. The aviation company's shares closed up 13 per cent on Thursday and made further, more modest gains on Friday.

This was despite disappointment among some analysts that Corti's prescription hadn't been radical enough.

There were big moves in the share price of Kuoni as well, though in the opposite direction. The massive slide came after the country's biggest travel group said six-month results would be far below expectations.

Kuoni put the blame on problems in the Scandinavian market and didn't rule out a sell off of its Scandinavian subsidiaries. The recent boardroom battle that saw Daniel Affolter ousted as chairman did not help the group, either.

The results season is beginning again with several companies preparing to release half-year figures this week.

Among them is the engineering company, Georg Fischer. The firm, based in Schaffhausen, had profits in 2000 of SFr28 million on sales of SFr270 million.

The company recently bought a 15 per cent stake in the German company, Simona, which produces piping systems for industrial use.

The computer accessories company, Logitech, says it is on target to achieve 45 per cent growth in operating income this year. Its half-year results are out on Tuesday.

The company says retail demand for its computer "mouses" and other peripheral products has remained robust despite difficult market conditions.

Shares in Logitech have outperformed the Swiss market by around 70 per cent this year.

And half-year results from Swiss-Swedish engineering concern, ABB, are also due to be released on Tuesday. The numbers will be keenly awaited after the company recently imposed a hiring freeze, which will see thousands of positions abolished. Many analysts fear ABB's earnings will be a severe disappointment.

by Michael Hollingdale


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