Saudi shares under the spotlight as kingdom businesses begin reporting

Markets Update: Saudi Arabian companies were under the radar this morning as a string of results announcements dictated market movement - with video.

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Saudi Arabian shares moved into the spotlight for traders this morning as the kingdom became one of the first in the region to begin issuing first quarter results.

Jarir Marketing Company, Saudi Arabia's largest stationery and bookseller by market value, said first-quarter profit rose to 136.8 million riyals from 118.5 million riyals in the year-earlier period. The shares were yet to respond ahead of Saudi Arabia's open at 12pm.

Yesterday, Saudi Arabian companies kick-started the first-quarter earnings season and the spotlight Wednesday will remain on corporates disclosing the impact of political unrest in the Arab world on their financial results.

The Tadawul, the largest and most liquid Arab market fell 0.9 per cent yesterday as first quarter results at Almarai, which operates dairy farms and processes food, was well below analysts' expectations. It said yesterday its first quarter net profit rose 0.5 per cent to 235.2 million riyals ($62.72 million).

Morgan Stanley cut it's price target for the company to 113 Saudi riyals from 123 Saudi riyals.

But markets in the UAE were muted, as the Dubai Financial Market General Index slumped 0.4 per cent to 1,532.26 points and the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange was flat at 2,590.22 points.

Emaar Properties, the builder of the world's tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, slumped 2.5 per cent to Dh3.09 as the stock trades ex-dividend.

Emaar shareholders late last month approved the distribution of 10 per cent of cash dividends for 2010, its first payout in three years.