Internationals investors in Greek stocks are remaining calm and their confidence in a small number of listed enterprises is rising, despite the perceived increase in the country’s political and economic risk.
The foreigners have not reduced their participation in the portfolios of those enterprises because they have a standout quality that other Greek companies don’t: They have diminished their dependence on the Greek market by increasing their outward-looking orientation in recent years so that they can view the future with greater optimism than their domestic rivals which are more exposed to the country’s political and financial uncertainty.
For instance, the following companies have foreign portfolios that account for more than 20 percent of their share capital: OPAP gaming company, Folli Follie, Public Power Corporation (PPC), METKA, Sarantis, Grivalia Properties and Hellenic Exchanges. However, the company with the biggest international stake is Jumbo, which is expanding its branch network in Southeastern Europe.
Foreign investors control under 20 percent in the following Athens-listed companies: Mytilineos, Titan Cement, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (CCHBC), EYDAP water company, Motor Oil and GEK Terna. These firms communicate on an almost weekly basis with their foreign shareholders, keeping them up to date with economic and political developments in Greece. The managements of the outward-looking enterprises have also been invited to a series of bank conferences in European capitals in the next couple of months, in order for them to present their investment programs for the new financial year.
The eight-year recession has been reducing the distribution of dividends and the return of capital to shareholders at an increasing rate. Nevertheless, from 2008 to 2015, according to Hellenic Exchanges Group figures, there was a return of capital adding up to 13.256 billion euros. The best year was 2008 (concerning the performance of 2007), when 182 profit-making companies distributed total capital of 4.486 billion euros. The worst year in that period was 2013, when just 21 profit-making enterprises distributed a total of 576 million euros to their shareholders.
As stock market officials also admit, the main reason for the departure of the majority of Greek investors from Athinon Avenue has been the loss of the dividend incentive, which in previous years had been a decent source of revenues for many thousands of Greeks.