ECONOMY

Pisciculture’s rebound in 2004 continues this year, while the market is concentrating further

Fish farming enjoyed a rebound year in 2004, according to a survey by Hellastat. Its average profit growth rate for the last three years has been 16 percent, making it one of the rapidly expanding sectors in Greece. The sales total reached 460 million euros against 397.7 million euros the year before, with the top 10 companies responsible for 60.3 percent of all sales. The market is showing strong concentration trends, with few major companies controlling most of the market; in an effort to improve their economic figures, they seek agreements with smaller firms in the sector. Consequently, there are only about 200 companies remaining today from the 487 operating in 2002. Out of the 67 companies sampled, 49 showed profits, which totaled 2.03 million euros last year against losses of 8.05 million euros in 2003. A crucial factor for that has been the waves of mergers and absorptions of many small enterprises by the sector’s strong players, as the former faced financial problems due to high borrowing. The positive signs have continued in the current year’s first quarter, as the listed companies’ published results demonstrate, according to the International Financial Reporting Standards. Group sales in January-March 2005 in the fish-farming sector rose by 6.6 percent over the same period last year, with profits faring impressively. Production of fish in 2003 reached about 101,436 tons, up by 6.7 percent from 1999, when it only came to 95,086 tons. A major portion of domestic production is exported to the rest of Europe. In 2004, about 83,782 tons of fish were exported from Greece to other European countries. The constantly rising pisciculture production covers the needs that have arisen from the recent decline of fishing in Greece. Among the market’s top players according to 2004 sales, Nirefs bolstered its profits by 80.4 percent to 5.5 million euros from 3.04 million euros in 2003. Hellenic Fish Farming had profits of 2.61 million euros, up from 1.09 million in 2003, which is almost entirely down to extraordinary revenues (2.53 million euros), while Selonda Aquaculture boosted its profits by 85.8 percent annually, to 3.03 million euros, and its sales by 51.7 percent, taking its turnover to 37.59 million euros and its market share to 8.2 percent from 6.2 percent in 2003. In liquidity terms, the domain is at quite satisfactory levels. The reduction in the stock maintenance period from 14 months in 2002 to just 11, a decline of 101 days, is very encouraging. Companies are believed to receive their requirements every 5.5 months, an improvement of 27 days from 2003. Finally, short-term banking obligations reached 184.6 million euros in 2004 from 170.9 million in 2003 and the ratio of short-term banking obligations to sales was at 30.7 percent in 2004, an improvement from 33 percent in 2003. Borrowing remained at high levels, with the ratio of borrowed to total capital standing at 65 percent in 2004 (against 68 percent in 2003), compared with 54 percent which Hellastat applied to the manufacturing sector last year.