Mild gains for equities

The local equity market kicked off the week on a positive note as the MSE Share Index recouped some of last week’s 1.5% drop with a 0.3% rise during this morning’s trading session to 2,970.286 points. This rise was mainly due to the 0.9% increase in the share price of Bank of Valletta plc to €2.18 across seven trades totalling 10,296 shares.

FIMBank plc’s equity also traded 2.4% higher to USD0.87 on a single deal of 28,000 shares. Last week, FIMBank issued an announcement regarding a possible transfer of shares amounting to 38.8% of the total issued share capital from the largest shareholder Massaleh Investments K.S.C.C. to Burgan Bank, a Kuwait based bank, which also intends to inject further equity into FIMBank to increase its potential stake above 50%. This will in turn trigger a mandatory bid. Meanwhile, FIMBank’s equity is still trading with the entitlement to the net dividend of USD0.02 per share together with the 1 for 25 bonus issue.

After trading again at its all-time low of €0.76, GO plc’s share price recovered by 1.3% to regain the €0.77 level. Five trades totalling 4,700 shares were executed today. Last week, the quad-play telecom operator published its 2011 full-year results revealing a record loss of just under €51 million as the profits from local operations were again offset by the significant share of losses incurred in relation to the Group’s indirect investment in Forthnet. For the first time since the privatisation way back in 1998, GO’s Directors did not recommend a dividend. The Directors explained that at this stage it is important for the GO Group to replenish its reserves after these have been depleted by the various impairments on GO’s indirect investment in Forthnet in recent years.

Also in positive territory today is the equity of Middlesea Insurance plc with a 1.5% increase to the €0.70 level on low volumes of just over 2,000 shares.

On the other hand, Lombard Bank Malta plc shed 0.8% to a new 17-month low of €2.50 on low volumes of 810 shares. Last week, Lombard Bank revealed a 20% drop in profit after tax to €6.6 million. Nonetheless, the Board of Directors have proposed an unchanged gross dividend of €0.115 per share.

On the bond market, the Rizzo Farrugia MGS Index declined for the twelfth time in succession as Eurozone yields moved higher compared to last Friday reflecting the general improved investor sentiment.  Today, Bank of Valletta plc published its final terms with respect to the €40 million notes issue at a coupon of 4.25%. Applications forms are available and must be lodged by Monday 2 April.