Share Index at new 6-month low amid low volumes

The MSE Share Index continued to underperform international stockmarkets amid very low volumes as investor sentiment remains subdued. This morning, the local equity market benchmark slumped by 2.5% to a new 6-month low of 3,353.942 points mainly due to a 15.8% drop in International Hotel Investments plc. Although a single trade of 700 shares was transacted at a 66-month low of €0.699, further shares remain on offer at this level. Meanwhile support for IHI has been withdrawn since the start of the Libya political turmoil which in turn sparked investors’ concerns given the contribution on the hotel in Tripoli to the overall financial performance of the IHI Group.

The share price of Bank of Valletta plc edged 0.3% lower to below the €2.90 level for the first time since 21 March 2011. Low activity was also evident in HSBC Bank Malta plc shares as the equity maintained the €2.96 level across three trades totalling 9,220 shares. Similarly, Lombard Bank Malta plc closed unchanged at the €2.95 level on two trades totalling 26,500 shares after trading at a high of €2.98.

Meanwhile, further demand for RS2 Software plc shares helped the equity climb a further 6% to a fresh 5-month high of €0.53 on volumes of over 39,100 shares. Few other bids remain unsatisfied at the closing price whilst lowest offers are now placed at the €0.64 level. Last Tuesday the Group announced its 2010 financial results revealing a significant improvement in profitability and a higher dividend to shareholders. In fact, a combination of increased revenue and the tax credits lifted profits for the year to €2.86 million (2009: €1.025 million). Moreover, the Directors recommended a net dividend of €0.032 per share (representing a 45.5% increase over last year’s dividend) to shareholders as at the close of trading on Wednesday 27 April.

On the bond market, the Rizzo Farrugia MGS Index climbed higher for the third consecutive session as Eurozone bond yields retreated back to the 3.42% level. As a result, the MGS Index edged a further 0.2% higher today to a new 2-week high of 974.787 points.