MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. on Friday bought back its own shares from the open market, helping to perk up the local telecommunication giant's stock price for the first time this week given the jitters caused by a recent expose by Senator Panfilo Lacson.
PLDT disclosed to the Philippine Stock Exchange that it had purchased a total of 13,210 of its shares from the stock market worth a total of P30.3 million which it said was part of a share buyback program earlier approved by its board of directors.
Stock dealers said the buyback was done by the country's most valuable company as a defensive move following the overhang caused by allegations that ousted President Joseph Estrada had coerced the Yuchengcos into selling their PLDT stake to First Pacific Co. Ltd. of Hong Kong led by Manuel V. Pangilinan years ago.
"This is to protect the share price," one dealer said.
Profitable companies resort to shares buyback programs when they think their stock prices are undervalued by the market.
Friday?s buyback, which accounted for about 10 percent of all PLDT trades, brought to about 2.68 million the number of PLDT shares kept by the company in its treasury.
The treasury shares were worth about P6.2 billion as of Friday?s close.
PLDT's stock price finished 1 percent higher to close at P2,325 per share at the local stock market, ending its losing streak this week and supporting a marginal 0.6 percent rise in the PSE index to 2,789.33.
It was again the most actively traded stock, accounting for 11.7 percent of the P2.8 billion value turnover at the local bourse.
Lacson's allegations, which were backed by a statement from tycoon Alfonso Yuchengco, pulled down PLDT shares by about 4.3 percent this week.
PLDT had a market capitalization of P429.66 billion as of friday?s close, the largest among companies listed on the PSE.
Friday?s buyback was effected in three tranches. Some 5,040 shares were bought at P2,300 per share, followed by a 1,000-share purchase at P2,305 per share. The last tranche consisted of 7,170 shares bought at P2,310 per share.