JSE firms as Naspers nears R4000 level

Johannesburg - The runaway train that is the Naspers [JSE:NPN] share price these days continued on its merry way on the JSE on Friday, smashing one record after the other.

The share traded 2.61% higher on a new record of R3 899.60, well on its way to R4 000 per share after breaching the R3 000 level less than three months ago.

With Naspers by far the biggest share in most major indices, the overall market was inching above the 60 000 level reached a few week ago.

By mid-morning the All-share index was 0.79% higher at 60 017 points, while the Top 40 index was 0.86%  stronger at 5 836 points. This was mainly due to the Industrial index, of which Naspers is the major component, gaining 1.20% to trade at a new all-time record of 91 948 points.

A stronger rand helped the Financial index gain 0.78%, but the Resources index slipped 0.44% as the local unit traded at R14.20 to the dollar at mid-morning.

Three months ago Naspers still traded at R2 886.33, which meant it gained 41.29% over that period. The share gained 69.75% over the past year, as it was still at R2 144.13 on November 16 last year.

The strong rise in the Naspers share price is almost exclusively the result of an even more spectacular run by Tencent, which at mid-morning was 2.96% higher on a new record of HK$40.40.

Tencent is more than 100% higher for the past year, as the share was trading at HK$195.40 November 16 last year.

This spectacular rise reflects Naspers’s market value, as its stake of 34.4% in the Chinese internet giant represents most of its value and income. In fact, the value of the Naspers stake in Tencent is already worth more than Naspers itself.

It is therefore no surprise that analysts ascribed the rise of more of 12% in the All-share index over the past three months almost exclusively to Naspers.

Among the other top industrial shares, British American Tobacco [JSE:BTI] traded 1.25% higher at R938.50 while Remgro [JSE:REM] was 1.20 stronger at R206.95.

Attention is still on the retail sector after this week's strong retail sales figures, and the Foschini Group [JSE:TFG] was 3.95% stronger at R144.49. The clothing retailer announced a bold plan to introduce home-grown brands to Australian shoppers.

Mediclinic International [JSE:MEI], which lost more than 6% on Thursday to close at the lowest level since February 2014, lost 3.02% on Friday to R106.13 at mid-morning. Investors were disappointed by the news that Mediclinic could not reach a deal to take over Britain’s Spire Healthcare Group.

Investec Plc [JSE:INP] lost 2% to R92.10, despite Thursday’s announcement that operating profit rose 11.8% in the six months to September 30, supported by its wealth unit. Investors were spooked by a warning of the negative influence of political uncertainty in Investec’s main market.

Banking shares were mostly higher. Barclays Africa [JSE:BGA] gained 2.31% to R146.40, FirstRand [JSE:FSR] lifted 1.87% to R53.86 and Standard Bank [JSE:SBK] was 1.34% stronger at R165.16.

Sanlam [JSE:SLM] is on a new 52-week high of R74.81 after gaining 2.3% in morning trade.

* Fin24's parent company Media24 is part of the Naspers Group. Naspers owns a 34% stake in Tencent.

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