Profits seen off an average 40 pct

Companies listed on the Athens bourse are expected to report an average year-on-year drop in first-half earnings of around 40 percent as Greek businesses suffer the most difficult three months since the global crisis broke out. The Athens bourse’s 285 listed companies are expected to report total profits of between 2.7 and 2.8 billion euros, versus 4.53 billion euros in the same period a year earlier. At the end of the first half in 2007, the figure stood at 5.93 billion euros. The drop in profits could be larger, according to analysts, as the industrial sector and trading companies struggle with slumping revenues after the crisis hit exports. Investment banks and brokerages have been encouraging investors to compare second-quarter earnings with the first three months of the year rather than last year’s levels, since the crisis had not started to have a real impact on the economy in June 2008. Banks are seen helping pull average profit higher for listed companies. According to brokerage P&K National, second-quarter bank profits are expected to improve from the first three-month period on the back of better profit margins, cost containment as well as more favorable market conditions.