New highs for MIA & RS2 Software

The share price of Malta International Airport plc advanced by 2.3% during this morning’s session to a new all-time high of €2.25 on low volumes of 4,700 shares. Similarly, RS2 Software plc also traded up to a new record level with a single deal of just 1,500 shares changing hands at €2.41 representing a 0.4% increase over the previous closing price.

The equities of HSBC Bank Malta plc and Lombard Bank Malta plc also performed positively today thereby recovering partially from recent declines. HSBC edged 0.4% higher to recapture the €2.43 level also on low volumes of just over 2,000 shares. The equity of Lombard edged 1.1% higher to €1.77 across 2,385 shares. Shortly after the close of today’s trading session, Lombard published its 2013 full-year results revealing a 28.4% drop in net profit to €4.1 million as the 9% growth in operating profit to €11.3 million was offset by the significant increase in loan impairments to €4.2 million. The payout ratio was reduced by half to 25% as Lombard set aside €1.05 million in line with the provisions of the amended Banking Rule 09 which became effective on 31 December 2013. The Directors declared a gross final dividend of €0.04 to all shareholders as at the close of trading on 20 March. The Directors also recommended 1 for 20 bonus issue to all shareholders as at the close of trading on 22 May 2014. Both are subject to shareholder approval at the upcoming Annual General Meeting scheduled to be held on 24 April 2014.

On the other hand, FIMBank plc shed a further 4.6% to the US$0.84 level across four deals totalling 52,061 shares. This follows the publication of the 2013 full-year results this week revealing a pre-tax loss of USD6.4 million as the positive operational performance was outweighed by significant impairments.

Similarly, the share price of Middlesea Insurance plc shed 1% to fall back to the €0.99 level on low volumes of 4,300 shares. Middlesea reported a 3.9% decline in pre-tax profits to €17.3 million on lower income from its core insurance activities. Furthermore, the tax expense for 2013 significantly increased to €6.4 million from €0.64 million in 2012 as in the previous year the Group benefitted from a one-off deferred tax gain whereby all unutilised tax amounts available for relief against future taxable income in terms of the applicable law were recognised. After accounting for profits attributable to minority interests of €4.9 million (2012: €8 million), the Group profit after tax attributable to shareholders amounted to €6 million (2012: €9.35 million).

The only other negative performer was Malita Investments plc with a 0.4% drop back to the €0.54 level across four deals totalling 26,500 shares.

Meanwhile, no change was registered in the share price of Bank of Valletta plc at the €2.25 level across twenty seven trades totalling 57,961 shares. Medserv plc also maintained the €1.30 on high volumes of 57,850 shares. This morning the Company announced that its Board of Directors is scheduled to meet on 28 March to consider and approve the results for the financial year ended 31 December 2013. Likewise, the equity of Grand Harbour Marina plc traded unchanged at the €1.818 on a small deal of 2,500 shares.

Overall, the MSE Share Index advanced for the first time in the last four sessions with a 0.1% rise to 3,550.529 points.

On the bond market, the Rizzo Farrugia MGS Index edged a further 0.1% higher to 1,027.768 points (close to its July 2013 high) as the benchmark 10-year Eurozone yields slumped to fresh 9-month lows of 1.532% amid escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia as well as yesterday’s statement by the European Central Bank (EC) President Mario Draghi explaining that the Bank’s forward guidance is intended to reduce real interest rates.