OTE profit fall makes a softer-than-expected landing OTE Telecom yesterday beat consensus forecasts with an 8 percent drop in first-half consolidated net profit, reflecting lower provisions for a personnel reduction plan. OTE reported a net profit of 229.3 million euros, compared to analysts expectations of a 16.3 percent drop to 208.5 million euros in a recent Reuters poll, due to higher depreciation and reduced revenues from its fixed line business. OTE, which reported under US GAAP, said group net income in the second quarter rose 7.0 percent year on year to 116.2 million euros. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 10.4 percent to 923.9 million euros. OTE said it expected full-year EBITDA, excluding majority owned Romtelecom, to remain at 2002 levels, with the EBITDA margin for the Romanian subsidiary’s fixed-line operations seen above 30 percent. (Reuters) Cement firms recovering from adverse weather and currency factors Cement company Heracles, a member of the multinational Lafarge group, said first-half profit before tax rose to 40 million euros from 16.5 million in the same period last year, which was affected by a 19.6-million-euro provision for staff termination indemnities. The group said sales and production in the second quarter had recovered to last year’s levels, following the disruption by bad weather conditions in the first quarter. Operating income reached 42.2 million euros, while expenses decreased by 7.8 percent year-on-year. Separately, Greece’s other cement giant, Titan, also reported a second-quarter recovery but not enough to offset the impact of adverse weather and currency factors in the first quarter. Net group profit after tax and minorities in the first half was 1.5 percent lower year-on-year to 46 million euros. Sales decreased 5 percent to 488 million. Titan said it launched a new production line, replacing three old ones with state-of-the-art equipment for environmental protection in Thessaloniki earlier this month. PPC The Public Power Corporation said pretax profits in the first half grew 76.7 percent to 282.7 million euros year-on-year, mainly as a result of a 68.2-million-euro cut in non-operating expenses and an 18.1 percent rise in turnover to 1.9 billion. Operating income was up 40.2 percent to 323 million euros. The company’s net debt fell by 181 million euros since the end of 2002 to 4 billion euros. Separately, the Economy Ministry announced its intention to float a second tranche of PPC shares in the last quarter of this year. Details will be announced in due course. Bank of Greece Greece’s central bank, which sold 20 tons of gold last week out of its total hoard of 147 tons, will place the proceeds in euro bonds and expects to earn income of about 5 million euros, it said yesterday. The Bank of Greece said it raised 207 million euros from the sale. It said it sold the gold to place proceeds in safe investments yielding 2.0 to 4.0 percent annually, mainly European government paper. (Reuters) Bread Bakers pledged they will not raise the price of bread for the rest of the year as planned, Deputy Development Minister Kimon Koulouris said.