Daily Market Highlights (23.03.2020)

MSE Equity Price Index plunges to 5-year low


The MSE Equity Price Index continued to decline as it fell by a further 3.6% to a five-year low of 3,727.733 points. The drop was driven by the sharp declines in MIA, IHI and RS2 which, in aggregate, saw their combined market value contract by just over €132 million. Download today’s Equity Market Summary.

Malta International Airport plc plummeted by a further 12.4% to the €3.52 level after partially recovering from the €3.50 level – a new low since mid-July 2015. A total of 36,104 shares, having a market value of €0.13 million, changed hands. Following today’s drop, MIA has now been surpassed by BOV as the largest company listed on the local Borza.

A single deal of just 5,000 shares forced the equity of International Hotel Investments plc to drop by almost 10% to an over five-year low of €0.505.

Also among the large companies, RS2 Software plc shed 8.4% to the €1.74 level across 9,300 shares.

Bank of Valletta plc retracted by a further 2% to a fresh multi-year low of €0.90 on a total of 60,681 shares. Last week, BOV published its preliminary financial results for the 2019 financial year. The bank reported a 5.5% decline in adjusted pre-tax profits to just over €138 million reflecting both lower income and higher operating costs. For the first time since the publication of the 2018 interim financial results, the Directors of BOV are recommending the payment of a dividend which amounts to €0.017 per share (net) which is still subject to regulatory approval.

Within the same segment, Lombard Bank Malta plc slipped by 3.8% to the €2.02 level albeit on light volumes totalling 6,000 shares. Today, the bank published its 2019 financial results. The bank registered a 10.4% increase in net profits to a record of €9.87 million on the back of a solid core operating performance. Lombard is also recommending the payment of a net dividend of €0.0455 per share, representing a 40% increase over the dividend paid out for the 2018 financial year.

PG plc lost 7.9% to drop to the €1.75 level across 21,600 shares. Last week, PG explained that it is cautiously optimistic that the essential nature of its supermarket business, and the low gearing that it maintains, will serve to contain the overall impact of the ‘COVID-19’ outbreak on its financial performance.

BMIT Technologies plc eased by 2% to the €0.50 level across 98,600 shares. Shareholders as at close of trading on 27 April will be entitled to receive a net dividend of €0.02157 per share.

Mapfre Middlesea plc moved back to the €2.26 level (-0.9%) on trivial volumes. Shareholders 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, HSBC Bank Malta plc remained at its multi-year low of €0.90 across 12,224 shares.

Four deals totalling 17,100 shares left the equity of Malta Properties Company plc at the €0.50 level.

Today, Plaza Centres plc issued an announcement in relation to the ‘COVID-19’ pandemic. The company noted that it has been assessing the immediate and potential impact on its operations and financial performance and has also implemented a business continuity plan. Although operating performance is expected to be negatively impacted, Plaza added that it is adequately capitalised and liquid to meet its financial obligations as they fall due.

Similarly, Tigné Mall plc explained that the ‘COVID-19’ is expected to have a negative impact on the company’s revenues, and that it is committed to take all necessary actions to mitigate its effects.

The RF MGS Index opened the week in positive territory as it added 0.36% to 1,132.707 points. Movements across international financial markets including bond yields remained highly volatile amid numerous uncertainties related to the global spread of ‘COVID-19’. Meanwhile, the US Federal Reserve unleased another round of extraordinary monetary stimulus measures including purchases of securities in unlimited amounts as well as new programmes aimed at keeping credit flowing to businesses and consumers.