SHARES OF MANILA ELECTRIC CO. breached the P300-per-share mark yesterday, a record high, on talks that the group of Manuel V. Pangilinan was gobbling up more shares to boost its stake in the power retailer.
Food and beverage giant San Miguel Corp. is not selling its 27-percent stake, San Miguel president Ramon Ang said yesterday.
The Pangilinan-led First Pacific Co. Ltd. of Hong Kong now controls about 33 percent of Meralco, mostly through Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. San Miguel, which bought out the stake held by pension fund Government Service Insurance System in October last year, holds 27 percent.
The rise of Meralco?s stock price has drawn mixed reactions from the market ranging from euphoria to disbelief to concerns of another BW-type price manipulation scandal.
Meralco shares shot up by another 8.26 percent yesterday to close at P295 after hitting an intra-day peak of P302.50, single-handedly accounting for 59 percent of total trades at the Philippine Stock Exchange yesterday.
With the market?s heavy value turnover of P4.57 billion, Meralco was the most heavily traded stock for the second consecutive day.
Some traders said the PSE and the Securities and Exchange Commission should raise a red flag and probe whether the unabated rise was driven by legitimate demand or not.
?Has the memory of BW been lost? This already could be price manipulation,? one analyst said.
The Philippines saw its worst stock market scandal in 1999 when the share price of a speculative stock, BW Resources Corp., made a phenomenal rise before collapsing, causing huge losses to hundreds of retail investors who bought at the peak.
Meralco?s rise yesterday perked up the main-share PSE index by another 1.25 percent to close at 2,803.39.
?Most of us are surprised. We think it?s being electrified by rumors. It?s too pricey now. It?s only for the brave,? said Astro del Castillo, managing director at First Grade Holdings.
Meralco?s shares are now trading more than three times the P90-per-share buying price of PLDT and SMC.
Others analysts said Meralco?s stellar rise had some fundamental support from expectations that the utility would earn up to P15 billion in net profits this year, much higher than last year?s P3.13 billion.