ECONOMY

In Brief

Titan reports Q1 profit increase true to name Cement producer Titan reported a forecast-beating 336 percent rise in first-quarter net profit to 23.3 million euros ($27.77 million), thanks to across-the-board higher sales growth. Operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased 32 percent to 55 million euros while group sales rose 11 percent to 231.6 million. «The improvement in the US market was the main reason for the increase in the group’s operating profit,» Titan said in a statement. It said its upgraded plant in Thessaloniki and the improvement in the Egyptian market also helped. The cement firm warned a sustained rise in fuel prices, which had negatively affected first-quarter results, could push up production and distribution costs in the coming months. Titan’s US operations account for 40 to 50 percent of its activities. (Reuters) AIA holds top European ranking among peers for second year in a row Athens International Airport (AIA) said yesterday it held its top ranking in Europe for passenger satisfaction in its size category for the second consecutive year based on an IATA 2003 global survey. «In the size category from 5 to 15 million passengers annually, Eleftherios Venizelos holds the first ranking in overall passenger satisfaction for the second consecutive year,» AIA said. AIA ranked number two in the world behind Cape Town. AIA saw a 3.6 percent rise in traffic last year – serving 12.3 million passengers and 110,000 tons of cargo. Passenger traffic in the first quarter this year was up 12.5 percent. AIA said it held its number two overall ranking among European airports in 2003, regardless of size category, behind Copenhagen. (Reuters) Eurobank bond EFG Eurobank, Greece’s third-largest savings bank by assets, plans to sell a home loan-backed bond, a bank source said. «We have already said that we will have it (the bond issue) before the end of the first half of this year. We don’t know yet the final amount,» the source said. Citigroup and Deutsche Bank are expected to be the lead managers of the bond sale. (Reuters) S&B Minerals group S&B said first-quarter group pretax profit fell 4.3 percent year-on-year to 4.24 million euros, hurt by higher transport costs. Group sales grew 10 percent to 70.1 million euros. S&B’s industrial minerals division, which makes up about three-quarters of group turnover and consolidated the recently acquired Bentonit operation in Bulgaria, saw pretax profit fall 13.8 percent to 4.25 million euros. (Reuters) HDFS Hellenic Duty-Free Shops reported a 63.2 percent rise in first-quarter pretax profits, as strong sales of Olympic Games-related accessories boosted a normally weak period. Pretax profits after minorities rose to 7.5 million euros ($8.95 million) from 4.6 million last year. Sales rose 57.2 percent from last year to 44.4 million euros. The company added that shareholders approved a dividend of 0.60 euros per share for 2003. The company has exclusive rights for the duty-free business until 2048. (Reuters)