The favorable shift in the exchange rate of the euro against the US dollar has led to the creation of two categories among Greek listed companies, as those who export their products to dollar markets have seen their cash reserves soar. On the other side, the majority of listed firms are struggling to survive in the Greek economy while all sectors are shrinking due to the state having halted payments to the private economy.
Out of the 231 companies on the Athens Exchange stock board 61 are exporting firms (i.e. 26.4 percent), with exports accounting for between 40 and 95 percent of their revenues. Exporting companies have already seen the benefits from the exchange rate shift in their 2014 financial reports, a positive development that has also extended to the first quarter of this year.
For instance, officials of listed marble mining company Kyriakidis said at its annual general meeting of shareholders that the Greek financial crisis has had little or not effect on them, as domestic sales cover no more than a small percentage. “On the contrary,” they said, “we control the raw material of a rare commodity [i.e. white marble], we usually sell for cash to dollar markets, we have high know-how and have managed to proceed to highly yielding minings.”
Those 61 listed companies have accelerated their expansion to international markets as the recovery of the Greek economy becomes ever more distant, particularly as long as bureaucracy delays investment. It is no surprise that in early 2015 the most important announcements have come from the predominantly export-oriented firms on the bourse.
In the construction sector the country’s three biggest groups (Ellaktor, GEK Tern and J&P Avax) have for been active for several years in the Middle East and today they are showing a sum of works to be completed in the future amounting to 3 billion euros.
The most recent development in this sector has been a project worth $490 million which Aktor (an Ellaktor subsidiary) announced it has landed after an international tender for a sewage project in Colombia that is funded by the World Bank.
In the aluminum sector the country’s biggest firm, ELVAL, is setting up a company in Germany to purchase, produce and trade heat exchanger materials for the car industry in Europe.
Kleemann Hellas, that controls 7 percent of the world’s elevator market, recently opened a subsidiary firm in Zagreb, Croatia, and is now present in no fewer than 98 countries. Its international sales account for 89 percent of its group turnover.
Halcor, a subsidiary of listed group Viohalco, has since the start of the year shown a growth rate in sales volume that is in double digits, along with the improvement to its sales mix, through a swing toward industrial application products, with lower energy costs and with very good prospects for sales growth in dollar markets after the significant drop of the US currency. The company also announced a few days ago that via its cooperation with a local distributor in Turkey (which is evolving into a major market), it has proceeded with the set-up of a joint subsidiary firm (on a 50-50 basis) to produce its goods locally and avoid the high shipping costs in the Greek market.
Papoutsanis announced that in the context of its strategic cooperation with Sysco Guest Supply, one of the world’s biggest hotel cosmetics suppliers, it will as of July begin supplying an international 5-star hotel chain across Europe.