ECONOMY

In Brief

Listed firms improve results in third quarter Athens bourse-listed firms have on the whole improved results in the first nine months of 2002 in relation to the year’s first half; nine-month profits were down 17 percent at parent company level and 14 percent at group level from the same periods last year, compared to respective rates of 20 and 18 percent in the first half, according to data compiled by Magna Trust Investment Services. Banks and insurance firms sustained serious blows to their profitability, in contrast to construction companies. The most notable differentiations from last year mainly concern firms in the media and publishing and coastal shipping sectors, whose profitability appears to be on the rebound. While foodstuffs and gaming companies maintained their positive picture, the losses of many home appliance-, clothing- and IT-retailing firms have exceeded all expectations, and it seems most of them will not manage to reverse the picture by year-end. On the whole, the market remains undervalued in relation to profits and sales, Magna Trust says. The average P/E of firms for 2002 stands at 15, while the 28 percent slide of the general price index since the beginning of the year creates a discount likely to be trimmed with the prospect of an improved market in December. According to the latest economic analysis bulletin of the National Bank of Greece, Greek banks on the whole present a relatively better picture than the average of their peers in the eurozone, due to better growth prospects. The analysis points out that net interest income of Greek banks in the first nine months grew on average 9.45 percent, against 0.4 percent in the eurozone. However, the net profit margin fell in comparison to the same period of 2001. NovaBank has big expansion plans, including Turkey NovaBank, the joint venture of Banco Comercial Português (BCP) and Eureko group, which already numbers 93 branches in Greece, is to forge ahead with expansion plans, including 13 branches for private and corporate banking, as well as in insurance, factoring and leasing, Banco Comercial Português Vice President Christopher de Beck said in Athens yesterday. The plans also include the launching of 15 branches in Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey, beginning in May. The expansion will require considerable additional investment, which is projected to push the first year of profitability backward to 2004. NovaBank posted losses of 42 million euros in the nine months of 2002. PPC Interest for an estimated 810,000 shares of Public Power Corporation (PPC) was expressed during yesterday’s first day of public subscriptions for a total of 4 million shares on offer, representing 13 percent of the corporation’s share capital. Bids ranged between 11.8 and 13.0 euros per share. The subscription, for PPC’s second tranche of shares to be floated after last year’s 15.6 percent, ends on Friday when interest is projected to be strongest. Aid grant Greece announced Tuesday a 54.3-million-euro grant to support economic projects in Bulgaria. The aid is part of a Greek 550-million-euro plan for Balkan reconstruction to be implemented in the next five years. Bulgarian Finance Minister Milen Velchev said 20 percent of the money would go into private bilateral projects. The rest of the sum is to be set aside for government energy and transportation projects, modernization of the state administration, support for the poor, education and science. (AP)