ECONOMY

In Brief

Diana Shipping profits rise 49 percent in Q4 Diana Shipping Inc, a dry-bulk carrier, said fourth-quarter profits rose 49 percent on higher charter rates and a larger fleet. Net income rose to $54.2, or 72 cents a share, from $36.4 million, or 49 cents a share, a year earlier, the Athens-based company said yesterday in a statement. The average earnings estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was 72 cents. Revenues climbed 43 percent to $84.3 million. Chief Executive Officer Simeon Palios was able to avoid record declines in shipping rates during the quarter by keeping his fleet under multiple-voyage, or time-charter, contracts. Palios in November, citing falling prices for ships, suspended dividend payments to have cash on hand to make purchases. «They’re very smart getting everything chartered and being in the best shape they can be going forward,» Urs Dur, an analyst at Lazard Capital Markets in New York, said in a telephone interview. At least 80 percent of the fleet is under charter agreement for this year, said Dur, who rates the shares «buy» and doesn’t own any. (Bloomberg) Piraeus Bank may report 13 pct drop in earnings Piraeus Bank SA, the country’s fourth-largest lender, is expected to report that its profits fell 13 percent in 2008 as a result of increased provisions for nonperforming loans and after gains from a stake sale a year earlier were not repeated. Net income probably dropped to 544 million euros (US$689 million) from 622.1 million euros a year earlier, according to the median estimate of nine analysts Bloomberg News surveyed by e-mail and telephone. The bank had one-time gains from the sale of a stake in Bank of Cyprus Public Co in addition to other items in 2007. Stripping out those gains, profit rose 8.2 percent from 502.7 million euros. Provisions are expected to have risen 76 percent to 204 million euros, and operating costs probably climbed 21 percent to 892 million euros, the survey’s findings showed. The company was scheduled to report earnings today before the market opens. (Bloomberg) Intralot, OPAP bids Turkey’s Privatization Administration said yesterday five companies and consortia that had applied for pre-qualification met the criteria to join the tender for selling the national lottery company. The bidders were Dogan Holding – Lottomatica consortium, Intralot, OPAP SA – DAF Research and Development consortium, Austrian Lotteries, and Sans Oyunlari Yatirim Holding AS, owned by Turkey’s biggest mobile phone operator Turkcell. (Reuters) Gas field Turkmenistan’s South Yolotan-Osman natural gas field is a «super giant» and one of the world’s largest undeveloped deposits, said the company commissioned by the government to survey the country’s reserves. The field is 75 kilometers long and 35 kilometers wide, has a gas column of 500 meters and is likely to hold 6 trillion cubic meters of gas, Jim Gillett, business development manager at London-based Gaffney, Cline & Associates Ltd said in a speech delivered at a conference in London yesterday. That’s about equal to the US’s proven reserves. The South Yolotan-Osman field in eastern Turkmenistan has «significant development challenges,» Gillett said. These include substantial sulfur and carbon dioxide contents and higher-than-average temperatures and pressure. (Bloomberg)