Shares of the thinly traded Vancouver real estate company Wall Financial Corp. (TSX:WFC) soared more than 16 per cent today, to $18.80, after the company on Friday announced a $3-per-share dividend.
A press release noting the dividend was sent on Feb. 3 at 3:07 p.m. Eastern time, when stock markets were open, and shares were trading at $15.50 per share – a price that pinned the value of the dividend at 19.35 per cent. Shares were temporarily halted. Trading resumed, and the shares closed at $16.20 on Friday.
To get the dividend, shareholders must own the equity on Feb. 17, and the dividend is set to be paid on March 3.
"It's really a catch-up," Wall Financial's president, Bruno Wall, told BIV in an interview.
"We haven't had a dividend in three-plus years, since 2019."
Paying the dividend is expected to cost the company $97,360,095.
Little trading happens among Wall Financial's shares because most shares are owned by insiders. Wall estimated that insiders own between 70 and 80 per cent of the company.
The result is trading volatility, given that on average about 427 shares trade during the course of a day – or about $8,027 worth of shares at today's closing price. Trading today, however, was particularly heavy, with 4,969 shares trading, worth $93,417.2 at today's closing price.
Peter Wall, who founded the company in 1969, is the company's controlling shareholder, while Bruno Wall is his nephew.
The real estate company is likely best known for developing residential real estate that has some commercial space. It also manages residential and commercial rental units and develops and manages hotels.
The company's most recent quarterly earnings report listed $7,635,977 in net profit ($0.22 per share) in the quarter ended Oct. 31, and $47,691,019 ($1.43 per share) in the nine months that ended Oct. 31.
That profit appears to be returning to normal, after some hard times during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company generated $124,263,277 in net profit ($3.61 per share) in the year that ended Jan. 31, 2020, which was before the pandemic. It then saw net profit plunge more than 97 per cent, to $3,571,962 ($0.02 per share) in the year that ended Jan. 31, 2021. Its most recent full year was the one that ended Jan. 31, 2022, when the company generated $22,740,839 in net profit ($0.45 per share).
"The hotel business really bounced back in a very significant way since about February of 2022, and that has led, in large part, to strong earnings this year," Wall said. "We also sold a property back in March of 2022, for significant profit."
The company's market capitalization is about $610.1 million.