GMA shares soar 24% as competitor ABS-CBN goes off-air

Ralf Rivas
GMA's valuation is now higher than that of ABS-CBN

MANILA, Philippines – Shares of GMA Network jumped by almost 24% on Wednesday, May 6, a day after rival network ABS-CBN was ordered shut by the government.

The broadcast network giant’s common shares closed at P5.90 apiece from P4.77 a day ago, and even reached a new 30-day high of P7.15.

It was also among the most actively traded stocks during the early half of Wednesday, with its market capitalization reaching over P16 billion.

GMA’s valuation is now higher than ABS-CBN, which is at around P15 billion.

GMA’s Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) also climbed by 9.5% to P5.29. PDRs are financial instruments that allow foreigners to invest in Philippine media, since the Constitution bars foreigners from owning equity in media companies. (READ: EXPLAINER: Is Calida’s ABS-CBN PDR theory bad for business?)

Other listed media companies like the Manila Broadcasting Company (31.6%) and Manila Bulletin (11.27%) also joined the list of top gainers.

Lopez Holdings, ABS-CBN’s parent company, fell by almost 4% to P2.45.

ABS-CBN shares and its PDRs were put on trading suspension by the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) for investors to digest the news of the cease and desist order issued by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). (READ: ‘Neutral’ Duterte wants lawmakers to ‘vote as they please’ on ABS-CBN)

The PSE asked ABS-CBN to disclose the order’s impact on the company’s financial condition, operations, and prospects, as well as its business continuity plan, risk mitigation measures, and other key information for the investing public.

ABS-CBN shares were priced at P17.50 as of Tuesday, May 5.

Senators condemned the NTC order as a “grave abuse of discretion,” while the House committee on legislative franchises said the NTC may be held in contempt for not issuing ABS-CBN the provisional authority to continue operations.

The PSE index fell by 0.6% on Wednesday ahead of the announcement of gross domestic product growth for the 1st quarter of 2020 on Thursday, May 7.

Only the properties sector managed to get some gains, inching up by 0.2%.

A total of 126 companies declined, while 69 gained value. –

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.