Daily Market Highlights (16.03.2020)

Local equities continue to dive amid COVID-19 uncertainty


The MSE Equity Price Index moved lower for the eight consecutive trading session as it skidded by a further 1.89% to 4,141.624 points – the lowest level since late July 2015. Eight shares posted declines, including RS2 (-12.8%), IHI (-3.2%), BOV (-2%) and MIA (-1%). On the other hand, HSBC and Mapfre Middlesea trended higher whilst a further four companies closed the day unchanged. Download today’s Equity Market Summary.

RS2 Software plc was the worst performing equity today as it plunged by almost 13% to the €2.04 level across 44,281 shares.

Another sharp drop was also registered in BMIT Technologies plc as it lost 5.7% to the €0.50 level on activity totalling 81,600 shares. Last Thursday, BMIT published its 2019 full-year financial results showing a 4.8% increase in revenues and a net profit of €4.45 million. The Directors are recommending the payment of a net dividend of €0.02157 per share which, in turn, is exactly in line with the projected dividend at the time of the equity listing. The dividend is payable on 4 June to all shareholders as at close of trading on 27 April.

Malta International Airport plc retracted back to the €5.00 level (-1%) across 9,978 shares. Shareholders as at close of trading on 7 April will be entitled to receive a final net dividend of €0.10 per share. Last Friday, the company noted that it is taking all measures within its control to mitigate the inevitable negative impacts of the global spread of the coronavirus. MIA also added that it envisages to issue revised and updated traffic forecasts and financial guidance once the situation normalises and more certainty and stability are restored.

A single deal of just 3,000 shares forced the equity of International Hotel Investments plc to move 3.2% lower to a thirteen-month low of €0.605.

Also among the large companies, Bank of Valletta plc shed 2% to the €1.00 level – the lowest since mid-August 2009 – on heightened activity totalling 208,264 shares. The bank is due to publish its 2019 full-year results on Wednesday 18 March.

Three further equities closed the day in negative territory today albeit on light volumes. Main Street Complex plc and Malita Investments plc dropped by 3.8% and 2.2% to €0.50 (a new low) and €0.88 respectively, whilst MaltaPost plc eased by 0.8% back to the €1.20 level. Shareholders of Malita as at close of trading on Thursday 2 April will be entitled to receive a final net dividend of €0.01853 per share.

HSBC Bank Malta plc rebounded by 3% to regain the €1.03 level albeit on trivial volumes whilst Mapfre Middlesea plc added 0.9% to the €2.34 level across 13,919 shares. Shareholders of Mapfre Middlesea as at close of trading on Monday 4 May will be entitled to receive an ordinary net dividend of €0.0978 per share and a special net dividend of €0.0434 per share.

Meanwhile, Simonds Farsons Cisk plc (325 shares) and Trident Estates plc (685 shares) closed flat at €10.00 and €1.55 respectively.

A single deal of 6,000 shares left the equity of PG plc at the €1.90 level.

FIMBank plc retained the USD0.50 level across 30,867 shares. Last week, FIMBank reportedly significantly lower net profits for the 2019 financial year largely reflecting de-risking measures amid a challenging operating environment. For 2020, the bank explained that it is expecting to grow the key areas of its business by building on core established strengths and pursue opportunities in the industries and geographies across the clients’ supply chains.

Following last Friday’s plunge which was the sharpest in over three years, the RF MGS Index today fell by a further 0.88% to a nine-month low of 1,131.537 points. Movements in the prices of Malta Government Stocks continued to mirror changes in the yield spreads of Spanish and Italian bond yields as further emergency actions by the US Federal Reserve to calm markets failed to instil confidence. Yesterday evening, the Fed cut its benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points to a range of between 0% and 0.25%. The central bank also committed to holding rates near zero “until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve its maximum employment and price stability goals”, and unleashed a new multi-billion programme of new asset purchases.