PANIC SELLING among investors prevailed during the shortened trading week amid continued pandemic uncertainty, making Sy-led SM Prime Holdings, Inc. one of actively traded issues last week.

A total of 83 million SM Prime shares worth P2.17 billion exchanging hands from March 16 to 20, data from the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) showed.

Shares in the property developer closed at P26 apiece on Friday, down 13.3% week on week from the P30 finish on March 13. Since the start of the year, the stock has lost 38.5%.

According to Unicapital Securities, Inc. Technical Analyst Cristopher Adrian T. San Pedro, SM Prime tested the four-year low support level during the shortened trading week after the local bourse reopened after a two-day trading suspension amid the government imposed enhanced community quarantine measures in Luzon amid coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“It was indeed a panic selling scenario as the bourse reopened on March 19… The stock quickly recovered as bargain hunters and short-term traders bought the shares on the key support levels of P20 and above,” Mr. San Pedro said in an e-mail.

In a separate e-mail, Mercantile Securities, Inc. Analyst Jeff Radley C. See said: “Panic sets in as investors saw a huge plunge on SM Prime when the PSE resumed trading. With this, the stock added pressure pushing the index to a low of 4,000.”

PSE is operating on a shortened trading hours from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. while Luzon is under quarantine until April 13.

After a two-day market closure, the PSE returned on March 19 but the pandemic uncertainty took its toll on the local bourse as the circuit breaker was triggered shortly after the bourse opened and continued to fall to “unprecedented” 24.29% single-day drop.

Meanwhile, there are more than 267,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 11,000 deaths across 184 countries and territories worldwide, according to World Health Organization’s data as of March 21.

In the Philippines, confirmed cases has so far reached 307, including 19 deaths and 13 recovered patients.

SM Prime’s consolidated net profit went up 18% to P38.1 billion in 2019 as its consolidated revenues increased 14% to P114 billion amid sustained growth of its mall and residential projects across the country.

It ended 2019 with 74 malls in the Philippines offering 8.5 million square meters (sq.m.) of gross floor area and seven malls in China with 1.3 million sq.m. of GFA.

It also had 12 office buildings with a GFA of 695,000 sq.m., eight hotels with more than 1,900 rooms, four convention centers, and three trade halls.

“We expect the net income to be flat or negative [this year] brought about by the COVID-19 lockdown here in Luzon by which it is still uncertain when will the enhanced quarantine end as the government continues to evaluate the risk on a day to day basis,” Unicapital’s Mr. San Pedro said.

For his part, Mr. See said: “There will be adjustments as news came out that SM malls will waive rental fees and pay salaries. We have to see the impact of this in the financial statements.”

Mr. San Pedro sees the stock to remain “volatile” and pegged P19.90 support and P30.00 resistance price leaves this week.

“The stock may have established a bottom if it stays above P20.00 in the medium term,” he said.

For Mercantile Securities’ Mr. See, he expects SM Prime moving in a range for now, between P19.90 and P28.40. — LOP