Negative week for local equities

Despite a marginal 0.1% increase in the MSE Share Index today to 3,086.704 points, the local equity benchmark still ended this week 1.3% lower reflecting the negative performances of most active equities. In fact, eight out of the twelve active equities ended this week in the red. Among the large caps, International Hotel Investments plc was the worst performer plunging 5.9% back to the €0.80 level on volumes of 20,528 shares.

The worst performer of the week was Crimsonwing plc which plunged 19.2% back to the €0.21 level on Friday also on low volumes of 3,800 shares. The drop could be due to the recent publication of the March 2012 financial statements showing a loss for the fourth consecutive year. Nonetheless, in the Annual Report, the Directors explained that the Group should return to an overall profitable position in the current financial year ending 31 March 2013 given the encouraging business pipeline (including the start of some large contracts) and the completion of the restructuring at the Dutch subsidiary, VDA, which is now benefitting from significant annual savings.

The equity of Plaza Centres plc also retreated by 4.8% to the €0.55 level as the half-year results publication failed to lift the share price. Plaza reported a record €0.423 million in profit with occupancy remaining above the 90% level in spite of a 1,700 square metre increase in rentable area.

FIMBank plc lost 2.4% this week to USD0.83 as investors await the publication of the first half results as well as further developments on the potential takeover by Burgan Bank.

Similarly, Malta International Airport plc slid by 1.8% during the last five sessions despite the recent publication of the Company’s half-year results revealing a 13% increase in profitability to €4.48 million on the back of record passenger numbers.

Smaller declines were registered in HSBC Bank Malta plc and GO plc. The Bank’s share price closed lower for the first time in six weeks with a 0.5% drop to the €2.88 level. The quad play telecom operator’s equity recovered some of this week’s earlier declines with a 2% rise during Friday’s session but still closed the week 1% lower at the €1.04 level. The Greek company Forthnet yesterday announced that it is in discussions with other companies in the sector to investigate “potential consolidation of business activities” and possible strategic alliances.

On the other hand, Bank of Valletta plc edged 0.5% higher to the €2.11 level on activity of more than 52,700 shares. The only two other positive performing equities were RS2 Software plc (+4.2% to €0.50 across 214,290 shares) and 6pm Holdings plc which jumped 14.3% to GBP0.32 on 31,000 shares. Both IT companies still have to announce the date of their half-year results publication.

On the bond market, the Rizzo Farrugia MGS Index rose 0.2% this morning to close the week at 955.716 points (+0.3% over the week) reflecting this morning’s drop in Eurozone yields well below the 1.3% level after the European Central Bank (ECB) adopted a wait and hold strategy on further concrete measures to stem the crisis. The markets were also disappointed by similar decisions taken by the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England.