ECONOMY

In Brief

Germanos plans to consolidate invasion of Eastern Europe Germanos’s growing sales in Eastern Europe and a shift from prepaid to more lucrative contracts drove the Greek phone and accessory retailer’s net profit up 17 percent last year. Germanos said yesterday net profit rose to 63.1 million euros. Earnings per share (EPS) rose 16 percent to 0.78 euros, above the retailer’s forecast for 15 percent EPS growth. Germanos, with 918 outlets in Greece, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Ukraine, said it aims to increase its network to 1,500 shops in the next two years to cash in on rising mobile usage in Eastern Europe. Sales last year increased 19 percent to 1.02 billion euros, with foreign revenues accounting for around 30 percent of the total, up from 20 percent in 2004. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 14.4 percent to 94.3 million euros. Germanos said it will propose a 2005 dividend per share of 0.26 euros, a yield of 1.45 percent. Its shares trade at 22.76 times 2006 forecast earnings, a premium to the 17.5 multiple for Europe’s retailer sector, according to Reuters data. (Reuters) ATEbank goes into the black before more privatization State-controlled ATEbank yesterday reported 2005 group net profit after minorities of 139 million euros, reversing a loss of 71 million a year earlier. Earnings were boosted by rising retail lending. ATEbank said net interest income last year grew 8.9 percent to 603 million euros. Retail lending grew 33.1 percent last year with mortgages expanding 41 percent year-on-year, the bank said. ATEbank’s net interest margin improved by 10 basis points to 3.4 percent. The bank’s cost-to-income ratio fell to 61.8 from 66.3 percent in 2004. The government is planning to cut its stake in ATEbank this year. Based on its 2005 net earnings, ATEbank’s price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) comes to 40. (Reuters) Turkey’s jobless rate Turkey’s unemployment rate was 10.3 percent in 2005, with no change from the previous year but above government expectations of 9.8 percent, the Statistics Institute said yesterday on the basis of an interview survey. The survey, based on interviews with nearly 350,000 people, estimated the number of jobless in 2005 at 2.52 million, slightly up from 2.49 million people in 2004. The country’s unemployment rate was also 10.3 percent in 2004. Economy Minister Ali Babacan said last month that the government expected the overall rate for 2005 to be 9.7 or 9.8 percent. The institute’s projections provide the only unemployment data in Turkey, but observers warn that the figures do not reflect underlying unemployment including undeclared or hidden unemployment, and the employment of educated, qualified people in menial, unskilled jobs. (AFP) Turk surplus Turkey’s primary surplus edged up to 4.277 billion lira ($3.25 billion) in January from 4.204 billion in the same month a year earlier, while the government posted its first overall January budget surplus in 17 years. The primary surplus figure is calculated under the Finance Ministry’s method, which differs from the IMF method. (Reuters)