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Investors’ equity appetite increases

The Malta Stock Exchange (MSE) index closed lower for the first time in four weeks, losing a mere 0.13 per cent to end the week at 3,243.242 points.

Sentiment took a turn for the worse on Monday following a two per cent fall in Bank of Valletta plc’s share price. Although the equity market index rose in the following four sessions, the gains were not enough to outweigh the 0.6 per cent drop in the week’s opening trading session.

In the banking sector, equities moved in different directions as HSBC Bank Malta plc ended the week as the only winner while BoV and Lombard Bank fell marginally. Meanwhile, Go plc shares continued their way up while International Hotel Investments plc (IHI) closed flat following a hefty 14 per cent fall a week earlier.

In terms of value traded, Malta International Airport plc (MIA) was the most liquid issue with nearly €400,000 being traded in four trading sessions. The two major banks followed, both with similar trading value. Total value traded more than doubled when compared with the previous week as the total of trading was €1.5 million over 190 transactions.

Meanwhile, in the fixed-income market turnover fell across both corporate bond issues and Malta Government Stocks. Almost €800,000 was traded in the corporate bonds market while a total of 270 deals worth €17 million were executed in the government stocks market.

Last week, HSBC shares gained 0.6 per cent, or €0.015, as the equity gained ground in the week’s last two sessions after having closed flat in the previous three sessions. Last week’s gain came on the back of higher volume as trading volume spiked to 120,000 shares, up from 19,600 a week earlier. However as the equity’s share price started creeping higher activity fell significantly.

So far this year the equity has returned a positive 1.3 per cent.

Meanwhile, BoV shares, which have performed strongly over the past weeks, closed the first week of February down 0.7 per cent at €2.262 after trading at a weekly low of €2.23 and a high of €2.278.

On Monday the equity fell two per cent, closed flat on Tuesday, and edged higher mid-week as demand soared. Despite the turnaround in the second half of the week the bank’s share price failed to reach the previous week’s closing price of €2.278.

However, so far this year BoV shares are up four per cent.

Likewise, Lombard Bank plc shares lost a mere 0.5 per cent as the equity ended the week at €1.89 after it recovered from a weekly low of €1.86. A total of seven trades worth nearly €62,000 were executed.

On the other hand, Fimbank plc shares, which still top the list of the best- performing equities, closed an uneventful week unchanged at $1.02.

On Wednesday the bank announced that the board of directors will meet on March 6 to consider and approve the group’s and the bank’s audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2012, and to consider the declaration of a dividend to be recommended to the annual general meeting of shareholders.

On a positive note, Go plc closed another week in positive territory, this time by 2.2 per cent, or €0.03, as the telecoms operator’s share price reached €1.38 and has gained a significant 16 per cent so far this year. Last week a total of 44,000 shares, down from 58,000 shares a week earlier, were traded in 18 deals.

On the other hand, MIA shares failed to rise despite announcing record positive figures for January. Compared to the same period last year, in January the company saw passenger movements rise eight per cent while the average seat load factor increased 1.1 per cent and aircraft movements at MIA jumped by 4.1 per cent.

Despite this positive news, these figures failed to impact the market although there was a significant increase in trading volume mid-week when five deals of 127,000 were executed. Over the week a total of 233,000 shares were traded. The equity closed the week at €1.789, down a mere 0.3 per cent.

Plaza Centres plc shares lost 3.3 per cent as the equity ended the week at €0.58. Last week the shopping complex operator was the most active by volume as 266,000 shares were traded in Friday’s session.

Meanwhile, Maltapost plc gained a further two per cent as liquidity improved. The postal operator’s share price has now reached €1.04 and has gained 22.4 per cent since the beginning of the year.

Among the non-movers, IHI shares closed flat at €0.74 as two deals were struck on Friday while another two thin trades in Island Hotels Group plc cut the equity’s price by five per cent to €0.65.

Likewise Midi plc lost seven per cent as two deals of 56,000 shares were agreed at the price of €0.26 while Grand Harbour Marina plc traded unchanged at €1.82.

In the IT sector, both RS2 Software plc and Crimsonwing plc closed flat at €0.86 and €0.55 respectively on decent volume.

Malita Investments plc also failed to record any price movement as the equity traded at €0.525. On Thursday, the company announced that the board of directors is scheduled to meet on February 22 to consider and approve the company’s audited financial statements for the financial year ended December 31, 2012, and to consider the declaration of a final dividend.

This article, which was compiled by Jesmond Mizzi, managing director of Jesmond Mizzi Financial Advisors Ltd, does not intend to give investment advice and the contents therein should not be construed as such. The company is licensed to conduct investment services by the MFSA and a member of the Malta Stock Exchange and a member of the Atlas Group. The directors or related parties, including the company, and their clients are likely to have an interest in securities mentioned in this article. For further information contact Jesmond Mizzi at 67, Level 3, South Street, Valletta, or on Tel: 2122 4410 or e-mail [email protected].

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