ECONOMY

In Brief

Autohellas shares jump on strong earnings Autohellas SA, the Greek car rental company that holds the Hertz franchise for the country, climbed as much as 8.5 percent in Athens trading after reporting first-half profit more than doubled. Autohellas advanced as much as 14 cents to 1.78 euros, the highest since July 1. The shares traded at 1.71 euros, or 4.3 percent higher, in mid-session trade, snapping a three-day decline. The stock has risen 40 percent this year. Net income jumped to 6.9 million euros ($9.9 million) from 2.5 million euros a year earlier on lower costs and capital expenditure and a dividend from Greece’s biggest private airline Aegean Airlines SA, according to an Athens bourse filing. Autohellas holds 6.9 percent of Aegean Airlines, which made no payout in 2007, according to the airline’s 2008 annual report. «We remain positive on the stock on valuation grounds as it is trading on very attractive multiples,» Piraeus Securities wrote in an e-mailed note yesterday. (Bloomberg) Bulgarian fuel retailers cleared by regulator Bulgaria’s fuel retailers did not conspire to increase fuel prices last spring, the anti-trust regulator said yesterday after it wrapped up a yearlong probe into a possible fuel price cartel. The Commission for Protection of Competition launched the probe in June of last year after hundreds of Bulgarian truck drivers staged protests across the country to press for fuel tax rebates and government help over rising prices. The commission, which also investigated whether Neftochim refinery, controlled by Russia’s Lukoil, abused its dominant position, said it did not find any discrepancies. The regulator said the reason for the steep hike in fuel prices in the first half of 2008 was in line with crude oil price increases for the period. Lukoil’s 140,000 barrel per day Neftochim refinery supplies about 80 percent of the EU newcomer’s motor fuel needs. It is Bulgaria’s sole oil refinery. Lukoil, Bulgarian fuel distributor Petrol and Austrian energy company OMV and Royal Dutch Shell are the biggest players in the fuel retail business in Bulgaria and control 80 percent of the market. (Reuters) Tanker earnings Ocean Tankers Holdings Plc, which sold shares in Cyprus for the first time in 2006, said first-half profit fell 34 percent as transport rates declined. Net profit in the six months to June 30 dropped to $4.6 million from $7 million in the same period last year as the company earned less from leasing out vessels for single trips and was forced to lower tariffs for ships operating with contracts for multiple trips, Nicosia-based Ocean Tankers said in a bourse filing yesterday. (Bloomberg) Bond volume The volume of Greek government debt traded on the central bank’s electronic system (HDAT) fell to 18.2 billion euros ($26.1 billion) in July from 27.7 billion in June, the Bank of Greece said yesterday. Trading volume was down year-on-year as 29.2 billion euros of Greek bonds had changed hands in July 2008. Daily average turnover last month fell to 0.79 billion euros from 1.32 billion in June. Greek government bond yields fell considerably, in line with the performance seen in the rest of the peripheral eurozone markets. (Reuters)