MSE Equity Price Index drifts lowers
The MSE Equity Price Index fell for the first time in three sessions as it eased by 0.20% to 3,841.895 points. The declines in BOV, HSBC, MIDI and MPC outweighed the gains in GO and GHM whilst BMIT, RS2, PG and MIA closed unchanged. Meanwhile, training activity amounted to €0.27 million. Download today’s Equity Market Summary.
In the retail banking sector, Bank of Valletta plc lost 1.1% to the €0.91 level across 5,320 shares whilst HSBC Bank Malta plc fell by 0.6% to the €0.84 level as 25,366 shares changed hands. HSBC shareholders as at close of trading on Thursday 18 March 2021 will be entitled to the recently recommended final net dividend of €0.00754 per share.
A single trade of 20,000 shares forced MIDI plc’s share price 3.9% lower to the €0.41 level.
In the same sector, Malta Properties Company plc shed 5.4% to the €0.525 level across trivial volumes.
Elsewhere, Grand Harbour Marina plc closed 1.5% higher at the €0.66 level across 6,000 shares after touching a low of €0.30.
GO plc rose by a further 1.8% to a three-week high of €3.40 across heightened activity of 43,547 shares. Later today, GO is scheduled to publish its annual financial statements.
Meanwhile, BMIT Technologies plc traded flat at the €0.53 level as 19,433 shares changed hands. On Tuesday, BMIT published its 2020 financial results showing a 6.9% increase in revenues to €24 million and a 6.4% increase to €7.6 million in profit before tax. Furthermore, the Board of Directors are recommending a final net dividend of €0.02922 per share. The final net dividend will be paid on 28 May 2021 to all shareholders as at close of trading on Thursday 22 April 2021.
Also in the IT services sector, RS2 Software plc closed unchanged at the €1.80 level across 25,350 shares.
Malta International Airport plc traded unchanged at the €5.90 level across 1,013 shares. Yesterday, MIA published the February 2021 traffic results showing a 93.5% drop in passenger traffic to 27,524 movements – the weakest monthly performance since the airport’s reopening to commercial flights in July 2020. The airport operator’s CEO, Alan Borg explained that whilst the focus should remain on the effective roll-out of vaccination programmes, due importance should also be given to other key matters including health certificates and leveraging mobile technology to enable the reopening of borders which would allow for the safe restart of travel and tourism activities.
Similarly, PG plc retained the €2.00 level as 10,200 shares changed hands.
The RF MGS Index climbed by 0.25% to 1,118.525 points. Earlier today, during its monetary policy meeting, the European Central Bank (“ECB”) kept its key interest rates at record-low levels and said it would conduct emergency bond purchases at a significantly higher pace over the next quarter, aiming to bring government bond yields down and to support the eurozone’s economic recovery. Nonetheless, the ECB opted not to make any changes to policy as it maintained its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program with a total of €1.85 trillion until at least the end of March 2022. Meanwhile on the vaccine front, Denmark announced that it is temporarily suspending the use of the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. The precaution comes after reports of sever cases of blood clots in people who have been vaccinated with the coronavirus vaccine from AstraZeneca. Elsewhere, the European Medicines Agency approved Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot COVID-19 vaccine – the fourth COVID-19 vaccine to be approved by the agency. As yet, the speed at which the EU will be able to roll out this vaccine is not yet clear. According to a statement issued by the drug maker in October, the EU ordered 200 million doses of the shot, with the option for an additional 200 million.
Today, APS Bank plc published its 2020 financial results whereby it registered a 9.4% increase in net interest income to €48.9 million, driven mainly by the continued growth in the Bank’s lending book which grew by 13.8% to €1.8 billion. Furthermore, interest receivable on loans and advances rose by 11.4% to €56.5 million, counterbalanced by a €1.5 million contraction in interest receivable on debt securities used for liquidity purposes. Meanwhile, pre-tax profit declined by €11 million to €15.8 million as profitability was hit by a €4.3 increase in impairments to €5.4 million as well as an increase in costs related to the Bank’s drive to enhance its services to customers, requiring an increase in investments in technology, but also as a direct result of the expenses necessitated by the pandemic. Nonetheless, it was noted that despite the challenging circumstances, the bank’s financial results in FY2020 beat its European peers and benchmarks and even its own forecasts. In the CEO’s statement it was explained that the bank aims to make further progress in 2021 for the next phase of the capital development plan, targeted for 2022. The CEO stated that this would be “the largest ever round of capital for APS Bank” which will demonstrate the bank’s “long-term commitment to the Maltese economy”.