Index in negative territory on declines in IHI & HSBC

The declines in the share prices of two of the large equities by market capitalisation, namely HSBC Bank Malta plc and International Hotel Investments plc, forced the MSE Share Index in negative territory with a 0.5% drop to 3,295.032 points. HSBC’s share price eased by 0.3% to €2.74 on low volumes of 8,964 shares and the equity of IHI slumped 4.9% back to the €0.751 level on a single deal of 1,600 shares.

These declines were only partially offset by the increases in other equities including the 0.7% rise in Bank of Valletta plc to the €2.27 level across 20,795 shares as well as the 4.3% jump in the share price of Lombard Bank Malta plc on the last day that the equity traded with the entitlement to the final gross dividend of €0.12 per share. A total of 8,831 Lombard shares changed hands during this morning’s session.

FIMBank plc also ended today’s session in positive territory with a 1% jump to regain the US$0.99 level on high volumes of 119,400 shares. Similarly, GO plc’s share price inched minimally higher to close at a 23-month high of €1.44 level in anticipation of the Group’s results scheduled published later on this afternoon.

Meanwhile, Malta International Airport plc failed to hold on to an intra-day high of €1.85 as the equity closed unchanged at the €1.82 level across 4,550 shares. Shortly after the close of this morning’s trading session, MIA published its 2012 results revealing a 4.6% increase in net profit to a record €12.5 million mainly reflecting the 0.7% increase in revenue to €52.8 million on the back of a record number of passengers for 2012 as well as the inauguration of the Sky Parks Business Centre in September. The financial performance of MIA was also helped by a 1.6% reduction in the overall cost base. Both factors helped offset the 28.1% increase in finance costs to €2.15 million as the interest on the borrowings related to SkyParks are now being expensed. Despite the increased profitability, MIA maintained its overall gross dividend unchanged at €0.1077 per share comprising the €0.0462 gross interim dividend paid in September 2012 and the proposed final gross dividend of €0.0615 per share. The final dividend will be paid on 5 June to all shareholders as at the close of trading on 16 April subject to shareholder approval at the upcoming Annual General Meeting scheduled to be held on 21 May 2013.

The only other active equity during this morning’s session was MaltaPost plc with 44,346 shares changing hands at the €1.02 level, representing no change from the previous close.

Grand Harbour Marina plc also published its 2012 preliminary results today revealing a net profit for the first time in three years. The Group registered a net profit of €1.5 million largely reflecting the €3.1 million berth sale concluded late last year. Nonetheless, the Group also continued to register higher income from annual berthing and ancillary services at the local marina as well as improved seaside and landside revenues at the IC Cesme marina in Turkey in which the Group owns a 45% stake.

On the bond market, the Rizzo Farrugia MGS Index reached another 29-month high of 1,013.967 points as Eurozone yields slid to their lowest levels this year below the 1.37% level. Benchmark yields across the 17-nation currency bloc have been under pressure on renewed concerns over the future of the Eurozone after the Cypriot Parliament unanimously rejected a bailout plan which included a one-time levy on all Cypriot deposits.