Share buyback activity in 2013 fell sharply with 69 companies recording 1,068 filings worth 451 million SGD, becoming the lowest level in three years.

The year of 2012 had 98 firms recording 1,521 filings worth 719 million SGD and 2011 with 96 companies, 1,730 filings and 1.06 billion SGD.

As many as 41 companies or 59 percent of the total number of firms buying back shares in 2013 recorded an average gain of 17 percent from their mean buyback prices and 26 firms or 38 percent of the total saw their share prices drop by an average of 10 percent in 2013.

Firms buying back shares last year accounted for an average of 6 percent of their stocks' trading volume in 2013.

The top gainer among firms that bought back the most shares in terms of value in 2013 was edible oil and fats producer Indofood Agri Resources with the stock closing 12.4 percent, up from the average buyback price in 2013.

After the stock fell from 1.40 SGD in January to a low of 73 cents in August, the group picked up 17 million shares from August to October 2013 at an average of 78.7 cents each. The stock closed higher from their buyback prices to 88 cents at the end of the year.

The top buyer in terms of number of filings and value in 2013 is Oversea- Chinese Banking Corp with 120 notices worth 150.4 million SGD. It bought back 14.46 million shares, accounting for 1.5 percent of the stock's trading volume. Despite the consistent repurchases, the counter closed 1.9 percent down from the group's average buyback price in 2013.

Among the top performers in terms of price gains in 2013 is restaurant, cafe and kiosk operator Sakae Holdings with 2.5 million shares purchased, which were the company's first buybacks since the stock was listed in 2003 on SGX Sesdaq and in 2008 on SGX Mainboard. The buybacks paid off as the stock closed 44 percent up from the group's buyback price in 2013 and has remained steady.

The worse performers in 2013 recorded price falls from their average purchase prices of 10 percent to 34 percent with an average drop of 20 percent.-VNA