AirAsia was the most active counter with 192.53 million shares traded yesterday.
It rose to an intra-day high of 1.24 sen in early trade before closing the day one sen higher at RM1.16, while AirAsia X (AAX) closed 0.5 sen up at 12 sen.
The share prices had come under pressure following the outbreak of the coronavirus as well as allegations of bribery involving top officials at the two companies.
AAX said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday that it had formed a board committee to review the allegations.
Following reports that the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) had sold some 7.92 million shares in AirAsia, the share prices showed some signs of recovery.
According to separate filings with Bursa Malaysia, Bernama reported that the provident fund disposed of 7.43 million shares in AirAsia on Jan 28, followed by another disposal of 492,500 shares the next day.
EPF announced that it had disposed of 102.1 million shares on Jan 31. It has 207.2 million shares in the group, representing a 6.20% stake, following the disposals.
In a report, KAF Equities maintained its “hold” call on AirAsia Group, to account for weaker travel demand amid the outbreak of the respiratory illness.
“Following the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, AirAsia had also cancelled all flights from China, Hong Kong and Macau into the Philippines.
“This follows the Philippines government’s directive to restrict travel from these destinations into the country, ” it noted.
AirAsia had also cancelled selected flights to and from mainland China until the end of the month, with credit account or refunds for flights into China, Hong Kong and Macau.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said, in a recent note, that passenger air traffic was about 35% lower at the SARS outbreak’s worst point for airlines in the Asia-Pacific region.
Nevertheless, the research house noted that the IATA expected the impact to be temporary.
“However, we note that the aviation industry has evolved since then – with Chinese travellers being a major force in Asia-Pacific and the offerings of low cost carriers today, ” it pointed out.
The research house reduced its load factor assumption to 84% and its FY20 earnings forecast by 24%.
“While the redesignation and set-up of an independent committee are good moves to provide transparency, we believe the probe into the alleged corruption will remain a sentiment drag, ” he said.
In a separate statement, the Malaysian Institute of Corporate Governance said the conduct described in the allegations against the top officials in the companies were “clearly unlawful and a flagrant breach of the principles of good governance”.
“However, in the interest of justice, due investigation and inquiry must be concluded to determine the veracity of the allegations, ’’ it said.
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