EDC shares hit 5-month lows after landslide

Posted at 03/04/2013 3:25 PM | Updated as of 03/04/2013 4:36 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Shares in Energy Development Corp. hit their lowest in five months after a landslide at its geothermal project in central Philippines killed five people last week. 

The company was still searching for six people missing after the landslide. 

EDC, the country's biggest geothermal power producer, said on Monday it was still verifying a report from its contractor First Balfour Inc that another body was retrieved from the landslide area, bringing to six the death toll from the accident. 

The news fuelled further selloff in EDC shares, which already took a beating on Friday when it announced the shutdown of one of its power plants due to technical problems. 

The news about the landslide added to investors' negative sentiment towards EDC, said April Lee-Tan, research head at local stockbroker CitisecOnline. "Investors are selling the stock because of the negative news flow." 

The stock was down about 6.9 percent by 0640 GMT, adding to the benchmark index's 0.4 percent loss. Shares in EDC parent First Gen Corp fell nearly 6 percent. 

First Balfour is a unit of EDC affiliate First Philippine Holdings Corp, which fell 2.7 percent. 

EDC has not halted the operation of its 125-megawatt Upper Mahiao geothermal plant in the central Leyte province despite the landslide and rescue operations, an EDC spokesman said. 

The casualties were among 43 employees of First Balfour allowed to work at the site when the landslide happened, EDC said in a statement. 

EDC said two weeks of intermittent rains triggered the landslide, which it first reported after trading hours on Friday. At least 32 had sustained injuries and had been treated, it said. 

EDC is part of the Lopez group of companies, which includes ABS-CBN Corp., parent of ABS-CBNnews.com.