ECONOMY

In Brief

OPAP first-half income swells, beating forecasts Gaming company OPAP reported a 216.5 percent year-on-year rise in first-half net profit to 288.5 million euros yesterday, mainly due to a first-quarter reversal of provisions that had burdened results in 2003. A Reuters poll had forecast first-half net profit at 277.7 million euros, up 205 percent from last year’s 91.1 million. The six-month results include a first-quarter extraordinary gain from the freeing of provisions the firm had taken to cover potential damages by gaming system maker Intralot following delays in game launches. Adjusted net came in 31.5 percent higher year-on-year at 192.3 million euros versus a consensus forecast of 181.5 million euros. Results were reported under IFRS. Sales for the first six months rose to 1.51 billion euros from 1.17 billion last year, boosted by the new Kino game gradually rolled out across Greece as well as increased sales in sports betting game Stihima helped by Greek successes in Euro 2004. (Reuters) OTE to consider future of Cosmorom in the fall OTE Telecom is likely to make a decision after the Olympics on the fate of Cosmorom, the indebted mobile arm of OTE’s Romanian fixed-line subsidiary Romtelecom, its CEO said yesterday. Cosmorom owes around 190 million euros ($228.4 million) to suppliers and serves less than 2 percent of the Romanian mobile market. «If we decide to relaunch Cosmorom, we will need around 400 million euros over a three-year period,» Panagis Vourloumis, OTE’s recently appointed chief executive, told reporters. «We are considering all possibilities but have not made a decision. Decisions will be made after the Olympics.» Romtelecom has said that Cosmorom needs investments of up to 150 million euros if it is to become competitive, while OTE officials have said they might shut it down and keep the mobile licence in Romania. «I would like to wrap up all these issues (legal wrangles, arbitrations) that OTE has been dragged into in the three countries where it has investments (Armenia, Serbia and Romania), in a way that the company emerges without any damage,» Vourloumis added. (Reuters) OTE share Morgan Stanley lowered its price target for shares of OTE Telecom by 4.3 percent to 11.1 euros, saying in a research note yesterday that restructuring was taking longer and costs continued to hurt. «We believe OTE faces further significant cash erosion unless it starts to address the escalating operating costs in the Greek fixed-line business,» the note said. It said OTE’s fixed-line business continues to suffer from competitive pressures and personnel costs with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) down 31 percent from the first quarter of 2002 to the first quarter of this year. «On 2004 P/E, it is also looking expensive at around 16 times versus the sector average of 12, on our estimates.» (Reuters) August 13 Greece’s stock and futures markets will be closed on Friday, August 13, the opening day of the Olympic Games, the Athens Stock Exchange said. August 13 will be a holiday for the public and private sectors.