ECONOMY

Olympic Catering in the red

Catering company Olympic Catering said yesterday it is poised to return to the black this year after losses ballooned to 11.98 million euros last year. The company forecast making 1.2 million euros in profit this year, with a new five-year business plan expected to play a key role in its recovery. Investors, however, were far from convinced by the company’s optimism. Olympic Catering shares fell 2.65 percent yesterday to close at 3.68 euros. The stock shed 2.07 percent last week as uncertainties over its performance troubled investors. The company said its guidance for 2003 was based on encouraging signs in the first month of the year, with «growth outpacing [targets] set in the five-year business plan.» Olympic Catering had losses of 11.98 million euros last year, double the 5.26 million euros posted in 2001. Revenues declined to 45.6 million euros from 49.2 million euros, with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization declining to 4.76 million euros from 5.28 million euros. It attributed the revenue fall to its withdrawal from lossmaking activities and the higher losses to extraordinary charges as part of the new management’s strategy to rationalize reserves and bad debts. The government sold off a 58 percent stake in Olympic Catering to a consortium comprising local fast-food chain Everest and Lufthansa subsidiary LSG Sky Chefs last year as part of a strategy to slim down debt-burdened flag carrier Olympic Airways. In addition to in-flight catering services, Olympic Catering also provides industrial catering to industries, hospitals and other sectors. Everest last week unveiled a near-40 percent jump in profits before tax and after minorities to 2.88 million euros in the first half of the financial year ending December 31, 2002.