The MSE Equity Total Return Index extended its impressive rally to eight straight weeks, having advanced another 2.23 per cent this week to reach 9,369.558 points. Activity in the equities market was half of the previous week, as €1.52 million worth of shares traded, compared to the previous week’s figure of €3.2 million. Gainers and fallers were somewhat balanced, as from 20 active equities, nine headed north and eight posted losses.
The main drivers of this positive performance were Bank of Valletta plc and Mapfre Middlesea plc, both of which posted significant gains in anticipation, and in the aftermath, of the publication of their financial results.
On Friday, the board of Bank of Valletta plc approved the audited financial statements for the financial year ended December 31, 2018. The statements show a profit before tax of €71.2 million, compared to €174.7 million for the 15-month period to December 2017.
As had happened in the first six-month financial statements of 2018, the results were negatively impacted by the €75 million litigation provision. This prudence provision is aimed to cover against losses which may arise out of the ongoing litigation cases, including the Deiulemar case. The operating profit before this litigation provision stood at €146.2 million, a 5.8 per cent increase over the annualised result for 2017.
Net interest margin amounted to €156.5 million, which on average was seven per cent higher than the previous period. This improvement was due the effect of higher volumes, which led to increased interest revenue, offset the impact of a low interest environment.
Net commissions amounted to €81.1 million, translating to an annualised growth rate of 17.5 per cent, while trading income and dividends show an annualised decrease of 12 per cent.
The group’s financial position remained solid, as the CET 1 ratio stood at 18.3 per cent, compared to the 16.1 per cent recorded at the end of 2017.
As announced this year, the Board will not be recommending the payment of a dividend, however it has resolved to recommend to the Annual General Meeting, a bonus share issue of one share for every ten shares held as at June 11. The bank also intends to issue an instrument eligible for Additional Tier One capital to institutional investors. Moreover, in the third quarter of 2019, the bank shall be issuing a new subordinated bond to replace the 5.35% BOV Subordinated Bond 2019.
In the aftermath of the announcement, the equity was dominated by buying pressure, closing the week 5.56 per cent higher, at an 11-week high of €1.33. BOV was also the most liquid equity, as 308,565 shares exchange over 70 deals.
In the same sector, no other equity posted a gain, as FIMBank plc lost 2.86 per cent in value to €0.68. This was the outcome of four trades of 22,862 shares.
The other active banking equity, HSBC Bank Malta plc traded flat over a couple of transactions of 1,445 shares executed at €1.63. The equity fell ex-div on Friday.
Similarly, BMIT Technologies plc closed unchanged, as 16 transactions of 130,749 shares had no impact on the closing price of €0.52.
Telecommunications company GO plc continued to trade in record breaking territory, as it climbed another 2.06 per cent to €4.96, almost the highest recorded price in almost 13 years. A total of 61,411 shares were exchanged over 40 trades.
Likewise, International Hotel Investments plc appreciated 5.41 per cent to set a new a three-year high of €0.78. Trading volume amounted to 68,301 shares over 12 deals.
Malta International Airport plc surrendered half of the previous week’s gain, as it edged 0.76 per cent to €6.55. The equity traded 21 times as 25,987 shares changed ownership.
GO plc continued to trade in record breaking territory
MaltaPost plc registered a similar performance, as it drifted 0.79 per cent to €1.26. Trading volume totalled 13,800 shares across four deals.
On Wednesday, the board of MAPFRE Middlesea plc approved the audited financial statements for 2018. These show a 4.8 per cent increase in profit before tax, to €18.56 million. As a standalone company, MAPFRE Middlesea plc registered a turnover of €69.69 million in gross premium written, translating to a 12.5 per cent increase over 2017. Investment income saw a decline as a result of the financial market conditions throughout 2018. Profit before tax on a standalone basis fell by 6.16 per cent to €11.42 million.
On the other hand, MAPFRE MSV Life plc was the main driver of the group’s positive performance, with an increase in profit before tax of 10.15 per cent to €13.7 million. Turnover stood at €322.72 million, compared to €291.46 million in the previous year, as a result of increases in demand across all products. In line with MAPFRE Middlesea plc, a negative investment income of €43.3 million was registered.
The directors have resolved to recommend the payment of a final net dividend of €0.11531 per share. The board will also recommend the payment of a special gross dividend of €0.08696 per share, related to the dividend which will be distributed by the subsidiary Mapfre MSV Life plc from past years’ retained earnings. Both dividends will be paid on May 22 to all registered shareholders as at May 3. The dividends are subject to approval at the Annual General Meeting, which is scheduled for April 26.
The share price soared 16 per cent over the week, to close at €2.32. In total, 15 trades of 62,158 shares were executed.
Its peer, GlobalCapital plc also had a positive week, as it hiked 25 per cent to €0.30 on a couple of trades on slim volume.
In the food and beverage sector, Simonds Far sons Cisk plc bounced back from the previous week’s loss with a 2.35 per cent rise to €8.70. A total of 3,143 shares traded over seven deals.
A single transaction of 1,833 Grand Harbour Marina plc shares, shaved 2.14 per cent off the share price, down to €0.685.
Retail conglomerate, PG plc, traded eight times as 21,950 shares changed hands. The outcome was a 1.47 per cent increase to €1.38.
Medserv plc put on 1.74 per cent to a price of €1.17, as five deals of 31,500 shares were executed.
A sole deal of 7,000 Loqus Holdings plc shares dragged the share price 5.88 per cent lower to €0.08.
The property sector had quite a negative week, as only MIDI plc traded higher. The equity gained 1.59 per cent to reach €0.64, as a result of five deals of 62,500 shares.
In the same sector, Malita Investments plc was the worst performer, as it completely erased the previous week’s gain with a 7.81 per cent decline to €0.885. A turnover of €112,929 was generated over 13 deals.
Tigne’ Mall plc continued on a negative path, as it was down by another 2.17 per cent to €0.90. A volume of 45,400 shares traded over eight transactions. The board is scheduled to meet on April 4 in order to consider and approve the company’s audited financial statements for the financial year ended December 31, 2018. The directors will also consider the declaration or otherwise of a dividend to be recommended to the AGM.
Trident Estates plc sank 2.21 per cent to a price of €1.33. A couple of deals of a combined 4,568 shares were executed.
Meanwhile, Malta Properties Company plc closed unchanged at €0.58, in spite of a significant turnover of €66,958, generated over 22 trades.
Yields in the sovereign debt market were generally higher this week, as gainers amounted to eight, and fallers totalled 12. In total, €4.7 million worth of Malta Government Stocks traded. The short-term issues mainly traded lower, while the longer-term issues registered mixed performances.
Meanwhile, in the corporate debt market a turnover of €1.9 million was generated, 21 securities posted losses while 14 increased in value. The top performer was the 6% Mediterranean Investments Holding plc Euro 2021 which gained 3.44 per cent to €104.99. Interestingly, the other bond of the same issuer was the worst performer, as the 5.5% Mediterranean Investments Holding plc Unsecured € 2020 lost 3.85 per cent to close at par.
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