HSBC & BOV fall below €2.90

Local equity market still characterised by subdued sentiment and low volumes as investors remain wary of the political unrest in Libya and the developments in Japan. MSE Share Index down another 0.4% today to 3,544.422 points due to the decline in the share prices of HSBC Bank Malta plc and Bank of Valletta plc. International stockmarkets hit hard following the widespread selling pressure in Asian stock markets with the Nikkei 225 Index shedding 10.6%. Major European stockmarkets are down between 2.5% and 4% and the US markets opened more than 2% lower.

Third consecutive session of declines for Bank of Valletta plc as its share price shed another 1.4% to drop back to the €2.89 level on volumes of just over 17,600 shares. Similarly, HSBC Bank Malta plc shed 0.3% to a new 2011 low of €2.89 across nine trades totalling 9,446 shares.

The only other active equity was Lombard Bank Malta plc which maintained the €3.00 level across volumes of 5,717 shares. Lombard’s shares are still trading with the entitlement to the €0.115 final gross dividend per share. Equity will turn ex-dividend as from Friday 25 March.

Middlesea Insurance plc this morning published its 2010 full-year results showing a pre-tax profit of €6.4 million compared to a pre-tax loss of €54.4 million incurred in 2009 which reflected the full impairment of the investment in Progress Assicurazioni SpA. However Group profit before tax and the impairment charge decreased by 25.7% from €8.7 million in 2009 to €6.4 million during the period under review. The Board of Directors did not recommend the payment of a dividend. Further details available at The publication of the results failed to generate any trades during this morning’s session with offers already placed minimally below the last closing price of €1.00 and best bids pitched at the €0.90 level.

GO plc this afternoon published its 2010 financial results showing a significant improvement in operating profit to €22.8 million mainly due to higher revenue and substantially lower voluntary retirement costs. Nonetheless, this improvement was wiped out by the increase in the share of loss from the Group’s investment in Greece from €9.1 million in 2009 to €24.7 million in 2010. As a result, the Group posted a loss of €19.2 million for the year compared to the €6.7 million loss reported in 2009. Moreover the Directors recommended a final net dividend of €0.05 per share which is half of last year’s dividend. This dividend will be paid to those shareholders as at the close of trading on 4 May following approval by shareholders at the upcoming Annual General Meeting scheduled to be held on 8 June.

Grand Harbour Marina plc are expected to publish their respective 2010 results later on today with Malta International Airport plc expected to follow tomorrow.

On the other hand, the Rizzo Farrugia MGS Index moved higher for the fourth consecutive session as eurozone yields declined to the 3.11% level on the back of a ‘flight to safety’ by investors. The local benchmark increased by 0.2% to 980.841 points with the price of the 5.25% MGS 2030 increasing by 40bp to 102.33%.

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