Shortly after the closure of this morning’s trading session, HSBC Bank Malta plc published its Interim Statement revealing that the Bank continued to perform well since the start of 2011. Although costs increased during recent months, the growth in operating income outpaced the increase in costs. As such HSBC reported that revenue and profits were in line with expectations. Loan impairments also increased slightly over the same period last year but were lower than expected. HSBC also confirmed that it maintained its strong liquidity position and a stable loan-to-deposit ratio together with capital ratios which are well above regulatory requirements. Prior to this announcement, HSBC’s share price edged 0.7% higher to regain the €2.96 level across thirteen trades totalling 16,200 shares to end the week 0.3% higher.
For the first time in sixteen weeks, GO plc ended the week in positive territory as renewed demand for this equity lifted its share price another 0.8% higher to close at the €1.35 level on volumes of over 10,500 shares. Overall, the equity racked up a weekly rise of 4.7%. Nonetheless, despite the recent upturn, the 2011 performance of GO’s equity remains disappointing with a year-to-date plunge of over 30% mainly following the announcement of a 50% reduction in dividends to shareholders. GO is scheduled to hold its Annual General Meeting on 8 June.
Middlesea Insurance plc also closed in positive territory today as a single trade of 1,000 shares was transacted at the €1.04 level, representing a 1% rise over the previous close. The equity of Middlesea ranks as the top performer for the second successive week with a further gain of 6.1%. The sudden upturn followed the announcement that Mapfre Internacional is seeking to acquire Munich Re’s 19.9% shareholding to become the single largest shareholder of Middlesea with a stake of more than 50%. Should this be approved, Mapfre will be obliged to make a mandatory bid for all other shareholders.
High trading activity was registered in the shares of International Hotel Investments plc and Malta International Airport plc. IHI continued to trade at the €0.70 level with a total of 70,000 shares changing hands today. MIA also maintained the €1.68 level with volumes rising to over 20,500 shares. MIA’s equity recovered by 1.8% this week.
Overall, the local equity market returned to positive territory this week as the MSE Share Index edged 0.8% higher to 3,326.451 points. Most of the large equities by market capitalisation closed higher. Following the closure of the new Malta Government Stock offerings this week, the Treasury is shortly expected to announce the amounts raised by both retail and institutional investors.