Observer "Lietuva"

Saturday 26th of April, 2003

Lithuanian banks posted 83-percent higher profit
Commercial banks operating in Lithuania recorded aggregate profits of LTL 59.1 million for the first quarter of 2003, an 83 percent increase over the same period in 2002. The Bank of Lithuania said the improved quarterly results were due primarily to cost-cutting measures. The banks' revenues for the first quarter remained close to last year's level, while their expenses dropped by LTL 27 million, or 9.5 percent.
Falling interest rates pushed the banks' interest expenses down by LTL 16 million, or 20.7 percent. Their operating expenses declined by LTL 4 million, or 3.8 percent, while expenses for specific provisions shrank by LTL 4 million, or 36 percent.
Most of the banks operating in Lithuania improved their performance in the first quarter of this year. The central bank predicted, however, that the profit growth potential would be limited by the continuing fall of the real interest margin amid increasing competition in the market. The real interest margin went down by 0.5 percentage points to 3.61 percent over the first quarter.
As of April 1, total assets of the domestic commercial banks and foreign bank branches reached LTL 16.998 billion, a 1.3 percent decline compared to the start of this year. On a quarterly basis, the banks' aggregate loan portfolio increased by 4 percent to LTL 8.248 billion; deposits made LTL 11.525 billion, down by 1.3 percent. (Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas)

Telecom's profit keeps shrinking
Analysts forecast that the largest Lithuanian telecommunications company, Lietuvos Telekomas, received 1-8 percent lower income over the first quarter of this year if compared to the respective period in 2002 while the company's profit is expected having dropped by 8-16 percent.
The second largest Lithuanian bank in terms of assets, Hansabankas, anticipates that Lietuvos Telekomas should receive income of LTL 245.263 million over the three months of this year, a decline of 1.1 percent from 2002. Meanwhile, the largest Lithuanian finance brokerage company Finasta says that Lietuvos Telekomas' Q1 income declined by 7.6 percent down to LTL 229 million.
Lietuvos Telekomas will announce its Q results on Monday.
Last year, the consolidated income of LT group companies made LTL 968.212 million, a decline of 8.5 percent if compared to 2001.
(Respublika)

Utenos Trikotazas is estimating profit
Utenos Trikotazas, Lithuania's leading knitwear manufacturer, posted an unaudited consolidated pre-tax profit of LTL 3.543 million for the first quarter of this year, based on international accounting principles, down by 5.3 percent year-on-year.
Nerijus Datkunas, finance director of Utenos Trikotazas, said the results of subsidiaries contributed to the overall profit figure based on international accounting principles. The members of Utenos Trikotazas' group include Satrija, Utenos Trikotazo Prekyba and Gotija.
In the first quarter of this year, Utenos Trikotazas alone reported a pre-tax and net profit of LTL 5.466 million, a rise of 15.3 percent from the figure in January-March of 2002 (LTL 4.742 million).
(Lietuvos Zinios)

Insurance market
According to preliminary data reported by the State Insurance Supervisory Authority, Lithuanian insurance companies wrote LTL 227.382 million in direct insurance premiums, an increase of 16.4 percent if compared to the respective period in 2002.
(Respublika)

Friday 25th of April, 2003

Panevezio Pienas is anticipating growth
Shareholders of the Lithuanian dairy producer AB Panevezio Pienas anticipate much higher turnover and profit for 2003 if compared to last year.
In 2002, the company sold production for LTL 88 million (the figure made LTL 85.877 million a year before); the highest growth (34 percent) was registered in sales of cottage cheese, sweet cheese snacks and ice cream.
Last year, Panevezio Pienas exported production for LTL 13.2 million, an increase of 2.5 percent if compared to 2001. This year, the company expects to raise its sales volume by 16 percent.
(Verslo Zinios)

SAS drops plans to acquire Lithuanian Airlines
Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS), the only potential bidder for Lietuvos Avialinijos (Lithuanian Airlines), has dropped its plans to acquire the Lithuanian national air carrier. "We have read the documents and we think that SAS is not interested in acquiring the Lithuanian air carrier. However, we want to expand our operations in the Baltic states, particularly in view of their future membership of the European Union," Ulf Thorne, SAS public relations head, said.
SAS was the only company to express its interest in participating in the bidding process for a 34 percent equity stake in LAL. The Scandinavian air carrier purchased a package of tender documents in late March and was to submit its preliminary offers on April 25.
LAL reported an audited net profit of LTL 39.924 million for 2002, based on Lithuanian accounting principles, on revenues of LTL 266.3 million. In 2002, LAL ran 3,952 flights and carried a total of 304,300 passengers, with the figures expected to rise by 1.8 percent (to 4,025) and 0.3 percent (to 305,100) this year respectively.
(Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika, Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Zinios)

Money supply rose by 2.3 percent
Total money supply in Lithuania grew by LTL 330.7 million, or 2.3 percent, over March and amounted to LTL 14.829 billion at the end of the month
According to the data provided by the Bank of Lithuania, the total volume of currency in circulation rose by LTL 13.2 million, or 0.3 percent, to LTL 3.928 billion over the month. The volume of demand deposits increased by LTL 197.7 million, or 4.6 percent, to LTL 4.541 billion.
Foreign currency deposits grew by LTL 54.6 million, or 1.7 percent, and constituted LTL 3.341 billion at the end of the month. The total volume of time and savings deposits increased by LTL 65.2 million, or 2.2 percent, to LTL 3.018 billion.
Net foreign assets of the Lithuanian banking system increased by LTL 1.444 billion, or 21.8 percent, during March and constituted LTL 8.073 billion. Total foreign assets rose by LTL 1.07 billion, or 10.4 percent, to LTL 11.308 billion, and foreign liabilities went down by LTL 374.6 million, or 10.4 percent, to LTL 3.235 billion.
(Respublika)

Thursday 24th of April, 2003

Lietuvos Energija posts a profit of LTL 39 million
The state-run power transmission company Lietuvos Energija (Lithuanian Energy) announced an unaudited pre-tax profit of LTL 39.6 million for the first quarter of 2003, exceeding its plans by 33 percent (LTL 10 million), yet the profit was by 11.8 percent (LTL 5.3 million) lower if compared to the respective period in 2002.
Lietuvos Energija has said it is projecting a profit of around LTL 63 million for the full year 2003, provided that the current electricity prices remain in place and that the company meets its annual export target of 7 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh).
Lietuvos Energija posted an audited net profit of LTL 95.295 million for the full year 2002. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) came in at LTL 172.54 million.
In January-March, the company transmitted 2.4 billion kWh via high-voltage lines and exported 3 billion kWh.
(Respublika, Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas)

Payment card market keeps growing
The Lithuanian payment card market grew by 9 percent in the first quarter of 2003 compared to the last quarter of 2002. Banks operating in Lithuania had issued 1.743 million different payment cards as of April 1, 2003, turnover of which reached LTL 2.255 billion. If compared to April 1, 2002, number of payment cards rose by 79.7 percent while their turnover showed a 51-percent increase.
In the first quarter of 2002, the payment card market recorded a 8.4 percent growth while the number of payment cards increased 1.8 times over the full year 2002. Hansa-LTB bank retained its leading positions in the payment card market. The number of cards issued by the bank reached 661,000 as of April 1, a 10 percent rise from early January. Hansa-LTB boosted its market share to 37.92 percent from 37.55 percent over the first quarter.
Vilniaus Bankas came in second with 630,800 cards, up by 5.1 percent compared to early January. The bank's market share shrank to 36.19 percent from 37.51 percent over the three months.
(Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas)

Achema's fertilizers are good for both European and African markets
The largest Lithuanian producer of fertilizers, AB Achema, exports 88 percent of its production and do not fear of Lithuania's integration to the European Union. On the opposite, they say that the country's accession to the EU will boost the company's profit even more. Achema ended the year 2002 with an unaudited profit of LTL 4 million; its turnover accounted for LTL 486 million.
Last year, Achema exported 1.2 million tons of fertilizers to the EU countries; another 100 thousand tons were exported to the USA.
Over the last 7 years, the company allotted investments of some LTL 30 million in order to meet the EU environment protection requirements. In terms of pollution on a production unit, Achema meets characteristics of the best 10 percent of companies in the EU.
In Lithuania, farmers use some 200 thousand tons of saltpetre per year. However, Achema sells only 60-70 thousand tons in the local market; the rest is imported from Russia.
(Veidas)

Wednesday 23rd of April, 2003

Furniture for LTL 308 million has been bought
Total furniture sales in Lithuania reached LTL 308 million in 2002, slightly down from the 2001 annual sales figure of LTL 309.5 million.
Lietuvos Mediena, the association of Lithuanian manufacturers of wood products, has released data showing that sales of locally-produced furniture rose by 1.2 percent to LTL 200 million last year, while sales of imported furniture were down 3.5 percent to LTL 108 million.
Dalios Baldai ranked first among Lithuanian furniture manufacturers in terms of domestic sales in 2002. The company boosted its sales on the local market by 15.8 percent to LTL 15.4 million over the year.
Narbutas ir Ko came in second with LTL 15.1 million in domestic sales (down by 1.9 percent year-on-year), followed by Voke III with LTL 9.7 million (down by 11.8 percent), Kauno Baldai with LTL 9.7 million (down by 17.8 percent), and Klaipedos Baldai with LTL 9.4 million (down by 35.6 percent).
Lithuanian furniture companies export majority of their production; the country's furniture exports soared by 29.6 percent to LTL 828.8 million last year.
(Lietuvos Rytas, Lietuvos Zinios, Respublika)

Advertising market grows the most in Lithuania
Last year, Lithuania lagged behind the other two Baltic states in terms of expenses on advertisement per capita, yet it overtook Latvia and Estonia in terms of the overall growth of the market in 2002.
Last year, EUR 38 of the expenses in the advertising market fell on a person in Estonia while in Latvia and Lithuania the figure made EUR 29 and EUR 19 respectively. However, in Estonia the advertising market rose by 8 percent up to EUR 52 million while that of Latvia grew by 14 percent and reached EUR 69.4 million. Meanwhile, in Lithuania the growth constituted 18 percent (up to EUR 67.6 million).
(Lietuvos Rytas, Verslo Zinios)

KLASCO has boosted its turnover this year
Lithuania's Klaipedos Juru Kroviniu Kompanija (Klaipeda Stevedoring Company, or KLASCO) posted a net profit of LTL 95,800 on revenues of LTL 32.8 million for the first quarter of 2003. KLASCO handled a total of 1.98 million tons of cargo over the first quarter of this year, a 24 percent increase over the same period in 2002.
The growth in cargo volumes was partly due to the launch of KLASCO's bulk terminal last December. The growing revenues were also a result of the increasing throughput at KLASCO's container terminal. It handled 178,000 tons of cargo during the first quarter, a 74 percent rise in year-on-year terms.
Last year, KLASCO income rose by 6 percent and reached LTL 109 million; the company posted an audited loss of LTL 15.29 million. This year, the company expects to raise its revenues by 18 percent up to LTL 129 million and post a net profit of LTL 5 million.
(Lietuvos Zinios)

Tuesday 22nd of April, 2003

Lithuania shows the most rapid growth
The Ministry of Economy and the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences have formulated the long-term strategy for Lithuania's economy growth by 2015. The specialists say that Lithuania is far behind the EU countries in terms of economy development level and claim that Lithuania has a real chance to eliminate the lag within 30-40 years only.
According to the Lithuania's Prime Minister, Algirdas Brazauskas, Lithuania will be one of the poorest countries in the EU after its accession to the union. On the other hand, Lithuania's economy shows a more rapid growth than that of the EU: in 2002, Lithuania's GDP rose by 5.9 percent while that of the EU increased by only 0.92 percent.
The long-term strategy forecasts that Lithuania should raise its GDP by 2-2.5 times by 2015 through the modernisation of its economy and economy policy as well as using the financial and technical support from the EU.
(Respublika)

Astra is growing
Alytus-based machinery manufacturer, Astra, boosted its production volume by 1.8 times in the first quarter of this year if compared to the same period last year. Over 2002, Astra's turnover rose from LTL 16.4 million to LTL 22 million. Shareholders of the company allotted the LTL 0.5-million profit for investments.
Astra manufactures stainless steel milk containers that were acknowledged the best product of the year in Lithuania in 2001. Astra also produces boilers, funiculars and different machinery parts. The company exports 75 percent of its production to both eastern and western markets; 25 percent of its production is sold in the local market.
(Lietuvos Rytas)

Internet banking is gaining popularity
Lithuanian commercial banks had about 402,000 online banking customers as of the end of the first quarter of this year, which represented a fourfold rise from 100,000 in late March of 2002.
Hansa-LTB, the country's second-biggest bank in terms of assets, remained the leader of the Internet banking sector. In late March, the bank had 238,400 users of its hanza.net service, up by 9.3 times year-on-year and by 37 percent since early January. Vilniaus Bankas had 142,000 online banking customers at the end of March.
(Lietuvos Rytas)

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