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Jamaica Stock Exchange to consider stock split

Published:Thursday | June 23, 2016 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson
Allan Lewis, chairman of the Jamaica Stock Exchange.

The Jamaica Stock Exchange Limited (JSE) will consider a stock split following the more than tenfold rise in its stock price in 2015.

The chairman, Allan Lewis, revealed the consideration in response to a series of queries from minority shareholder Orette Staple, whose queries set the tone for the annual general meeting held Thursday.

The JSE stock closed at $19.02 on Thursday following a substantial trading of 11.1 million units.

"A stock split is under active consideration by the board," Lewis responded to Staple.

The JSE stock gained 1,085 per cent during 2015 which offered best gains in the market, followed by Pulse Investments at 757 per cent, Caribbean Cement Company up 690 per cent, Desnoes & Geddes up 506 and Caribbean Cream up 436 per cent. Last year, the JSE market offered the best returns among 92 major markets which US-based Bloomberg tracks.

The banter between board members and Staple brought a change in tone amid the staid reports by officials.

Lewis tried to have Staple truncate his statements.

"We have a time constraint. Please ask your questions," the chairman said.

"Mr Chair, as minority shareholders we have rights," Staple shot back, then referenced an AGM in another jurisdiction which lasted for three days, ostensibly to allow shareholders queries.

Alternate director Gary Peart of Mayberry Investments interjected: "That was not why that AGM lasted for three days. You are being disingeniousness, Mr Staple."

Staple, a non-aligned minority shareholder, remains the most-known attendee at AGMs due to his style, which is similar to that of a cross-examiner. Staple will initially comment on the general management of the company prior to making queries. In doing so, his statements at times last longer than management speeches.

Staple enquired about the impaired receivables and new accounting rules, among other issues. He then charged the board to issue a larger dividend.

"For your next dividend payment, I am expecting to see at least $1.60," said Staple.

"That is your opinion, Mr Staple," responded Lewis, while noting the JSE paid out dividends of $1 on earnings per share of $1.25 - up from $0.02 in 2014.

In other matters, JSE General Manager Marlene Street Forrest indicated that the company will seek to launch futures and options trading by 2017.