Sell-off across local equities persist

During this morning’s session on the Borza selling pressure intensified in the local equity market with the MSE Share Index shedding another 0.7% to 3,326.415 points. The share prices of Bank of Valletta plc, GO plc and Malta International Airport plc all touched fresh 2011 lows. Following today’s downturn, the local equity benchmark now stands 12% below its value at the beginning of the year. As such, the MSE Share Index continues to trail significantly behind international stock market indices including the Dow Jones Industrial Average which gained 9.9% since the start of 2011, the German DAX which climbed 6.1% and the FTSE 100 which is currently up 0.7%.

The equities of both large banks closed lower during this morning’s session. Bank of Valletta plc’s share price dropped 1.4% to a new 6-month low of €2.84 despite still trading with the entitlement to the interim gross dividend of €0.0625 per share on increasing volumes amounting to 32,452 shares. HSBC Bank Malta plc also dipped by 0.3% to the €2.99 level on volumes of 12,200 shares.

GO plc’s equity turned ex-dividend and the share price slid a further 3% to close at a fresh all-time low of €1.29 on volumes of 15,800 shares. GO is scheduled to hold its Annual General Meeting on 8 June.

Malta International Airport plc touched a new 2011 low of €1.649 before closing at the €1.65 level, representing a 2.9% drop from the previous close. This morning the Company held its Annual General Meeting during which shareholders approved all the items on the agenda including the final net dividend of €0.035 per share which will now be paid on 17 May. Yesterday afternoon the airport operator announced a 25.3% in passenger movements. During the first 4 months of 2011, passenger traffic climbed by 19.2%.

The only other active equity, Simonds Farsons Cisk plc, closed unchanged at the €1.80 level on a single deal of 1,167 shares. The equity turns ex-dividend as from 20 May.

This afternoon, the Treasury is expected to publish the pricing with respect to the new fungible Malta Government Stock offerings taking place next week. The Government of Malta is issuing €150 million across two fungible stocks: (i) 4.25% MGS 2017 (III) and (ii) 5.25% MGS 2030 (I). The Maltese Government is also offering €52 million in a new floating rate stock to institutional investors.