Observer "Lietuva"

WEEK 17.2005

Saturday, 30th of April

VST power grid nets EUR 2 million
VST, a privately owned power distributor, earned net profits of LTL 7.2 million in the first quarter, a 1 percent decline since the same period a year ago when the net earning increased 10.4 percent from LTL 201.819 million to LTL 222.811 million. The company supplies electricity to more than 656,000 customers in the regions of Kaunas, Klaipeda, Siauliai, and Marijampole.

Ambitions of Apranga
Apranga, Lithuania's largest clothing retailer, intends to increase its pre-audit profits by 30 percent each year in 2006-2008. The turnover should also show a similar growth. Apranga projects LTL 11.049 million pre-audit profits for the full year of 2005 and a turnover of LTL 208.2 million. Company’s profits in 2008 should come in at LTL 24.169 million.
Lietuvos Zinios

Lithuania’s budget
Lithuania's national budget revenues totalled LTL 3.125 billion in the first quarter of this year, exceeding the revenue target by LTL 144.1 million or 4.8 percent. Total revenues including EU support funds came to LTL 3.378 billion. The 2005 budget projects annual revenues of LTL 15.563 billion, including LTL 2.676 billion in EU assistance funds.

Friday, 29th of April

Lithuania’s GDP grew by 5.5 percent in the first quarter
The growth of the gross domestic (GDP) product of Lithuania amounted to 5.5 percent in the first quarter, the slowest growth since the same quarter in 2002. A year ago, the first-quarter growth of the national economy reached 7.1 percent. Analysts explain this decline as the beginning of an economic slowdown, yet they acknowledge that the results of one quarter are not a gauge for the whole year.
"No major projects to create valued added are expected at this time, and it is hard to achieve this without direct foreign investments. Unfortunately, at this point we can firmly say that we have lost the battle for direct foreign investments," Gitanas Nauseda, an adviser to the president of SEB Vilniaus Bankas, said.
Rimantas Rudzkis, the senior analyst at the Nord/LB Lietuva, stated that the first quarter result match the forecast. The specialist added that it is hardly possible to expect the same rapid economic growth that occurred in 2004 and 2003. These trends indicate that Lithuania may fail to achieve its goal of catching up with the EU living standards in 15 years.
Respublika, Kauno Diena, Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios

Leasing gains popularity
From the outset of the year, the portfolio of leasing contracts widened 5.2 percent to a total of LTL 4.09 billion. Compared to the first quarter of 2004, the companies of the Lithuanian Leasing Association boosted their portfolio 39.4 percent. The leasing contracts concluded during the first quarter of 2005 reached LTL 845 million, a hike of 25 percent from January-March 2004. The firms financed transactions worth LTL 713 million. Analysts relate the burgeoning of the domestic leasing market to the achievements of production and trading companies, mounting investments, higher demand for household and consumer goods and strong competition among leasing providers. The main items in the framework of leasing portfolio traditionally included heavy motor vehicles (29.8 percent of total), technological equipment (21.4 percent), cars (18.9 percent) and real estate (18.9 percent).
Verslo Zinios

LAL is detrimental
Lithuania’s flagship air carrier Lietuvos Avialinijos (Lithuanian Airlines) posted losses of LTL 9.04 million for full 2004 on the back of higher fuel prices, expansion and reduction of fixed assets value. The carrier's revenues, however, rose by 11.6 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 222.01 million. Losses before interest, taxes, deterioration and amortization, resulting on record fuel prices and intensive expansion made up LTL 2.689 million.
Verslo Zinios

Thursday, 28th of April

The first quarter of 2004 was detrimental for Ekranas
Ekranas, one of Europe's leading colour picture tube (CPT) producers with a one-fourth market share, posted a loss of LTL 14.9 million in the first quarter of 2005, versus a profit of LTL 1.9 million in the same period a year ago. Ekranas' annual net profit slumped down to LTL 1.29 million in 2004. This year, it is projecting losses of LTL 10 million in view of negative trends in the global market. The TV tube producer saw its first-quarter sales drop by 41.3 percent LTL 81.6 million, from LTL 139 million a year earlier. The company is targeting a 15 percent growth in TV tube sales in 2005, to at least 5.3 million units. It is planning to invest up to LTL 20 million in a new product, Slim Type CPT, this year with a view to starting mass production in 2006.
Lietuvos Zinios

Losses of textile makers
Alytaus Tekstile, Lithuania's state-run cotton textile producer, reported LTL 3.446 million in losses for the first three months of 2005, a decline of 6.1 percent from the year-earlier figure of LTL 3.67 million. First quarter sales came in at approximately LTL 18.6 million. Alytaus Tekstile did not reveal its sales figures for the January-to-March period last year. For 2004 Alytaus Tekstile posted preliminary losses of LTL 13.53 million, a rise of 89.5 percent from the year-earlier losses of LTL 7.139 million. Revenues declined by 30.3 percent, to LTL 76.3 million compared to 2003.
Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Austrians eye on the Baltic States
Austria's Osterreichische Kreditversicherung Coface, a member of French credit insurance group Coface which has recently acquired Lithuania's insurance company Lietuvos Eksporto ir Importo Draudimas (Lithuanian Export-Import Insurance or LEID), intends to use Lithuanian company as a tool for expansion in the Baltic countries.
Coface aimed to offer insurance services in Latvia and Estonia and collect some LTL 9 million in insurance premiums in three Baltic countries in 2005. The company, which will be renamed Coface Baltic shortly, will be in charge of operations in the Baltic countries. In 2004, LEID premium portfolio totalled LTL 7.6 million. Austria's company purchased 99.92 percent in LEID for LTL 21 million late in March. LEID reported LTL 0.94 million in unaudited net earnings for full 2004, a rise of 32.4 percent from the year-earlier figure of LTL 0.71 million.
Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios

Wednesday, 27th of April

Net earnings of Alita distillery surge 22 percent
Alita, one of the Lithuanian alcohol producers, this year reported lower sales, but earned more gain. For the first quarter of 2005, the enterprise posted net profits of LTL 2.96 million. This result was bettered 22 percent against the same period of the preceding year. However, quarterly sales of the company slumped 5.3 percent to LTL 17.4 million year-on-year. The sales went down because of fierce competition in the market, the company said.
Alita this year targets to boost annual sales 8.8 percent to LTL 109 million. On Tuesday, the stockholders of the alcohol company distributed profits of the preceding year, which stood at LTL 13.19 million. It approved a LTL 2.03-million portfolio of dividends, or LTL 0.04 a share.
Respublika, Verslo Zinios

Natural gas prices to go down as of July
Natural prices for private users and large industrial users should go down from July, Vidmantas Jankauskas, chairman of State Control Commission for Prices and Energy announced on Tuesday.
"In accordance with our conclusions, the tariffs of natural gas transportation will remain unchanged, while distribution rates will decline somewhat, and the prices of natural gas will decline by 8 percent or LTL 16 per 1,000 m3 from July. Thus, the prices for users will go down as well," Jankauskas said.
Precise figures would be known in late May after the approval of final prices, he added. The commission intends to approve the ceiling prices on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Lietuvos Dujos, the natural gas utility, pushed for an increase in prices of natural gas for end users from July.
Kauno Diena, Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika, Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Supermarkets flourish in Lithuania
Lithuania will continue to experience a drop in the number of small and medium-sized retail outlets. Large supermarkets are expected to increasingly seize more of the retail market. This forecast was provided by a survey completed by AC Nielsen, a market research company, in November 2004. Lithuania now has more than 9,700 retail outlets. Although supermarkets, hypermarkets, and cut-price stores account for only 3 percent of all outlets in the country, their role is constantly growing. This group of stores presently accounts for 56 percent of total turnover in the nation's retail sector. VP Market, Iki, Norfa, Rimi, and Aibe, the largest retail chains in Lithuania, extended their collective share of the market by 8 percentage points in 2004. These chains accounted for 66 percent of total retail sales. The survey also found that Lithuanian consumers spend 93 percent of expenses, the most in the Baltic States, in hypermarkets and supermarkets.
Kauno Diena, Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Tuesday, 26th of April

Svyturys-Utenos Alus is the single leader in the beer market
Among the leading four breweries of Lithuania, only Svyturys-Utenos Alus earned big profits in the previous year, with two breweries suffering a loss. Svyturys-Utenos Alus gained net profits of LTL 65.1 million in 2004, 5.2 percent lower from the year before. This brewery controls about 47 percent of the domestic market. Its sales rose insignificantly to LTL 303 million during the preceding year.
The second largest brewery by sales is Kalnapilio-Tauro Grupe. It earned LTL 0.71 million in net profits, which showed better results compared to a year-ago loss. Its sales slumped 1.5 percent to LTL 100.5 million in 2004. Ragutis had a loss of LTL 4.5 million), though it bettered sales 13 percent to 51.8 million litas (15 million euros). Ragutis has been posting losses for the past four years, mainly due to large amortisation deductions and investments. Gubernija recorded 3.3 times bigger losses year-on-year – LTL 4.8 million.
Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas

Lithuanian gambling market grows
Lithuania's gaming industry earned a total of LTL 28.237 million from gamblers in the first three months of 2005, a surge of 54.6 percent from the year-earlier figure of LTL 18.264 million. Fourteen domestic gambling operators generated a total of LTL 122.426 million in revenues during the three-month period (a surge of 62.7 percent year-on-year) and distributed LTL 94.189 million in winnings (up by 65.3 percent).
This year, gambling operators paid LTL 3.56 million in gambling and lottery tax and LTL 192,000 in state fees.
Lietuvos Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika, Kauno Diena

Industrial output surges
The Lithuanian industrial sales rose by 4.2 percent in the first three months of 2005 versus the first quarter of 2004. In March alone, industrial sales rose by 8.6 percent from February, and surged by 14.7 percent on a twelve-month basis. The production of petroleum products surged by 35.5 percent during the month. The output of machines and equipment soared by 30.1 percent, electric machines and devices - 28.3 percent, chemicals - 23 percent, rubber and plastics - 16.7 percent, metal articles, except for machines and equipment - 16.4 percent. Output of foodstuffs and soft drinks rose by 15.8 percent, medical, precision and optic devices - 14.7 percent, radio, TV and communication equipment - 14.3 percent, furniture - 8.4 percent.
Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios

Monday, 25th of April

Power plans signed two modernisation agreements
Lietuvos Elektrine (Lithuanian Power Plant), the state-run thermal power station, has signed two environmental and technical upgrading contracts with a total value of about EUR 26 million this week. Rafako, Poland's manufacturer of industrial and power generation boilers said it has been awarded a EUR 10.4-million contract for upgrading of air pre-heaters at the power plant in Elektrenai, some 50 kilometres away from Vilnius. Lietuvos Elektrine signed a contract worth over EUR 15 million with the Swiss unit of Emerson for upgrading of unit control systems. Both companies are to start designing and other preparatory work this year. Implementation of the projects should begin early next year and take two to three years to complete. The total value of the four contracts is estimated at EUR 250 million.

Cargo flow at Klaipeda seaport and Butinge crude terminal plunged by 19.6 percent, year-on-year, to 6.703 million tons in the first quarter of 2005. Rail freight volumes, meanwhile, edged up by 1 percent, to 11.659 million tons in the reporting period. Cargo deliveries by inland water transport rose by 7.9 percent, to 76,900 tons. Air cargo volumes rose by 2.7 times, to reach 2,900 tons in the January-to-March period. Respublika

Poles will try to save Dvarcioniu Keramika
Polish ceramic tile producer Opoczno, which took over the control of Dvarcioniu Keramika, the largest Baltic ceramic tile producer, early in March, has granted the Lithuanian company a EUR 10 million loan to strengthen the company's positions on the market. Moreover, Opoczno intends to reshuffle the management of key units of Dvarcioniu Keramika. In March Romualdas Cesnavicius, Dvarcioniu Keramika's CFO and vice-president, was replaced by Bartosz Marczuk. In future the Polish investor would also replace production and sales directors. Currently Opoczno holds 60.25 percent in Lithuania's company. Dvarcioniu Keramika's CEO Klemensas Raiselis controls 17.98 percent.
Verslo Zinios

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