IHI and BOV move in opposite directions on high volumes

The trading session on the Malta Stock Exchange today was characterised by high volumes as a total of €1.8 million worth of shares changed hands across the 9 active equities – the highest level of activity since May 2009. The MSE Share Index closed marginally higher as the gains in International Hotel Investments plc (+2.6%), Malta International Airport plc (+2.9%) and Middlesea Insurance plc (+4.9%) offset the 2.9% decline in the share price of Bank of Valletta plc.

BOV’s equity slipped 2.9% lower today following last Friday’s Interim Directors’ Statement. The Directors revealed that the net profit for the first quarter of their current financial year between 1 October and 31 December 2010 is below expectations but in line with that reported in the three months ended 31 December 2009. BOV’s financials were particularly impacted by the fair value markdowns following fresh concerns on the sustainability of EU sovereign debt which in turn led to the widening of spreads. Meanwhile local media reports indicated that the Malta Financial Services Authority have completed their investigation on the recent complaints with respect to the La Valette Property Fund. BOV’s share price slipped down to the €3.01 level before marginally recovering in the latter stages of the session to close at the €3.04 level. Over 195,000 BOV shares traded today across 71 deals – the highest daily activity since January 2006.

Meanwhile HSBC Bank Malta plc remained unchanged at the €3.50 level on continued high volumes amounting to over 67,700 shares. Investors await the Bank’s 2010 full-year results publication on 18 February.

International Hotel Investments also saw very high volumes in its equity. Over 877,000 shares changed hands today helping the equity climb by 2.6% to the €0.975 level, just below the recent high of €0.98. No update has been published by IHI since the recent announcement that the company is seeking to make a private placement of new shares at a price above the nominal value of €1.00 last December.

MIDI plc shares were active for the second time since listing last December. A single trade of 100,000 MIDI shares was executed at the €0.45 level, unchanged from the previous close. High volumes also registered in FIMBank plc as 75,000 shares changed hands at the US$0.95 level, unchanged from the previous close.

MIA’s equity reacted positively to last Friday’s announcement of a record number of passenger movements during January. Last month, the airport operator saw a 14.9% increase in passenger numbers helping the equity climb by 2.9% to regain the €1.80 level despite low volumes of only 2,800 shares.