NEWS

Semester’s results beat predictions

The woes of 2002, which forced companies to restructure and control spending, appear to have produced the conditions for greater profits and productivity of capital this year. The six-monthly results of 153 listed companies, or 45 percent of those on the Athens Stock Exchange, shows an increase of 8.6 percent of turnover on a consolidated basis and a 33.8 percent increase in profits over the same period last year. Parent companies show an increase of 10.4 percent in turnover and 25.3 percent in pretax profits. The figures show that the effort to tidy up businesses, which followed the madness of the stock exchange bubble of 1999-2000 has paid off. Companies are expected to show better results by the end of the year, which augurs well for the following year, the year of the Athens Olympics. The results show that many companies managed to curtail costs either by restructuring debt or by limiting other expenses without reducing their sales. Most of them benefited from the low interest rates and were able to restructure their debts by changing from short-term to long-term ones. The spectacular improvement in profits on a consolidated basis which is much better than that of parent companies leads to the conclusion that in many cases, groups made substantial moves to clean up their subsidiaries, many of which were sold or closed so that companies could concentrate on their core business concerns. In some cases, companies were merged with similar companies in the same group. This performance in the first half of the year coincides with the war in Iraq and the uncertainty that dominated international markets, affecting sales. This had prompted pessimism in analysts. But it appears that the relatively quick end to the uncertainty helped sales recover, especially in the second quarter, which was much better than the first. It is clear that a final appraisal can only be made when the annual balance sheets, which are audited by chartered accountants, are published. But the six-month results provide a sign of what will follow, given that this was one of the most difficult semesters in recent years.