2 JANUARY 2002

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The year of the equity decline

Action on the Malta Stock Exchange this year was unfortunately notable for the somewhat drastic declines in all the equities listed on the MSE, with the exceptions only of International Hotel Investments and the First International Merchant Bank.

The general trend witnessed among the equities falling in average price was one of peaking at the beginning of the year, while reaching the year’s low toward the end of November. Then in December saw some stocks began recuperating slightly.

Market watchers may have been rather deluded when only two companies (Globe Financial Management and First International Merchant Bank) joined the ranks of companies listed in Malta. At the end of 2000, it was rumoured that some nine companies would be seeking a listing.

Despite the depreciations in average share prices practically across the board this year, those tuned to the market would have found several profit-spinning opportunities on the Exchange.

Lm20,758,762 worth of shares were traded on the Exchange this year. However, the Exchange’s share index fell by some 33 per cent from 3,290.61 at the year’s inception to its index last Friday of 2,200.134.

Following is a brief breakdown of individual equity performance over the year.

Middlesea Insurance
The equity worst hit this year was the recently rebranded Middlesea Insurance, which lost just under 45 per cent off its average share price. The equity, which fell by Lm1.714 in average price, currently stands at Lm2.098.
Over the course of the year, the equity – the only insurance company listed on the Exchange - saw trading of some 970,000 shares worth close to Lm2.5 million. The equity had started the year at it peak of Lm3.812, while hitting a low of Lm2.046 on 5 December.

The Exchange’s only telecom equity, also one of the most watched stocks, declined by more than 39 per cent in average price over the year – by shedding 98c3 off its average price. The equity had closed the year’s trading on Friday at Lm1.522. after having opened the year at Lm2.505.
The equity saw the largest volumes of shares being traded, at 3,720,138 – a sum some three times higher than that of its closest competitor in that regard. Meanwhile the value of Maltacom shares traded this year was of Lm6,577,588. The equity had hit a high of Lm2.505 at the year’s inception, while bottoming out at Lm1.134 on 18 October.

HSBC also saw a sharp drop in its average price this year. The equity, which has opened the year at Lm6.40 and currently stands at Lm4.138, lost over 35 per cent, or Lm2.262, off its average shares price.
Over the year the equity had seen 611,389 shares changing hands, worth Lm3,153,463. The equity had witnessed its high of Lm6.40 at the year’s opening, while hitting a low of Lm3.897 on 26 November.

Lombard Bank
Lombard Bank, however, fared the best out of the Maltese banks, and lost a comparatively low 21.6 per cent, or Lm1.076, off its average share price, which currently stands at Lm3.904.
The equity saw just under 400,000 shares changing hands over the course of the year, trading worth some Lm1.6 million. Meanwhile, the equity had hit high of Lm4.98 at the year’s inception and reached a low of Lm3.736 on 30 November.

Bank of Valletta
Bank of Valletta shares shed just under 33 per cent, Lm1.565, in its average price, which now stands at Lm3.185.
The equity this year witnessed 1,278,095 shares changing hands, worth close to Lm4.7 million. The equity had hit a high of Lm4.75 at the year’s beginning, while hitting a low of Lm2.975 on 23 October.

Simonds Farsons Cisk
SFC shares this year lost just over 25 per cent, 25c4, in average price, which rests until next year’s trading at Lm0.736.
Over the year the equity saw 223,m100 shares changing hands – activity valued at just over Lm207,000. The equity bottomed out at Lm0.722 on 30 November, while reaching its high of Lm0.99 at the year’s beginning.

Plaza Centres
Plaza shares this year also depreciated, although to a somewhat lower extent, and dropped just over 18 per cent, or 15c3, off its average share price, which now stands at Lm0.687.
The amount of trading in the equity this year was in the form of just over 935,000 shares – trading worth just under Lm700,000. The equity saw a low of Lm0.672 on 27 November, while peaking at Lm0.875 on 22 January.

International Hotel Investments
On a lighter note, IHI shares climbed over this year’s trading by just over 7.5 per cent, 6c9, in average price over trading of close to 925,000 shares – valued at some Lm825,000.
The equity had hit a low of Lm0.787, on 8 February while peaking at Lm0.994 on 23 November.

Suncrest Hotels
Suncrest shares was undoubtedly the least traded equity on the Exchange this year, with just 70,030 shares changing hands. Over the trading, which last took place on 22 August, fell by just over 35 per cent in its average price, which currently stands at Lm0.431.
The equity had peaked at Lm0.665 at the year’s inception, while reaching its current low of Lm0.431 on 22 August.

Globe Financial Management
Exchange newcomers Globe shed some 40 per cent, 17c1, in average price since it was listed on the Exchange in March.
Over the year the equity saw trading of 1,179,560 shares – worth Lm326,840. The equity ad peaked at Lm0.426 on 8 March, while reaching a low of Lm0.227 on 3 December.

First International Merchant Bank shares, listed on the Exchange in late June in US dollars, appreciated – albeit minimally – by 0.4 per cent, or 0c5 in average price.

Since its launch, the equity, which now stands at USD1.255 saw trading of 263,280 shares. The equity had fluctuated little, reaching a high of USD1.26 and a low of USD1.25.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt