x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Abu Dhabi's Sorouh share price falls below nominal value of Dh1

Abu Dhabi's second-largest property developer has become the latest of four UAE public companies to trade below their nominal value.

Sorouh dropped to 97 fils a share. Jaime Puebla / The National
Sorouh dropped to 97 fils a share. Jaime Puebla / The National

Sorouh stock dropped below a dirham yesterday as Abu Dhabi's second-largest property developer joined the one in four UAE public companies now trading below their nominal value.

The company behind the Sun and Sky Towers development on the capital's Reem Island dropped to 97 fils a share, bringing the number of local companies trading under par value to 27 out of 107 listed firms.

The UAE's big three property developers - the others are Emaar Properties and Aldar Properties - were once among the most favoured stocks held by international investors seeking to tap the rampant growth of the property market that peaked in the autumn of 2008. But since then, they have been among the biggest fallers.

"These companies are near their book values. Some of them are highly leveraged while others … are witnessing a down cycle," said Nabil Farhat, a partner at Al Fajer Securities in Abu Dhabi.

According to the Securities and Commodities Authority, it has the right to suspend a company's shares once they fall below 40 fils.

Gulf General Investment Company, Deyaar Development, Gulf Navigation Holding, Union Properties, RAK Properties and Green Crescent Insurance are all trading under the threshold. "The regulation is there for times of normalcy in the markets, but now we are living with a crisis," said Abdullah Al Turifi, the chief executive at the stock exchange watchdog.

The Dubai Financial Market (DFM) has lost more than 80 per cent since 2005. The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) has declined almost 60 per cent during the same period.

"Its all about liquidity. No matter how good the fundamentals are, nothing will change in the stock prices of these companies until liquidity is restored and confidence returns," said an industry source.

Traded value on the ADX and DFM has reached Dh49.4 billion (US13.4bn) so far this year. At this rate, they would end the year at about Dh60bn. In 2008 the bourses traded a combined value of Dh530bn.

"It doesn't matter where the stock price is, the bottom line is the fundamentals," said Anastasios Dalgiannakis, the head of trading at Mubasher Financial Services in Dubai. "The problem is no one is interested in buying, especially foreigners, even at these levels."