New entrant leads money makers ranking

By Alexia Petrova

Two Serbian representatives lead the SEE TOP 100 ranking of the most profitable companies in 2018 following massive financial injections by foreign investors.
At the same time, the three biggest money losers in 2017, all units of Croatia’s failed concern Agrokor, improved their financial performance remarkably as a result of the concern’s restructuring, and one even dropped from this list.

Serbian majority-state owned Aerodrom Nikola Tesla, whose main asset is the international airport in Belgrade, topped the ranking of most profitable companies with a return on revenue of 76% in 2018, mostly due to the payment of 500.1 million euro by the concessionaire of Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, France’s Vinci Airports.

Second-ranked Serbia Zijin Bor Copper, formerly RTB Bor, saw its net profit surge to 766.6 million euro in 2018 after China’s Zijin Mining Group injected $350 million in its capital, acquiring a majority stake. Serbia Zijin Bor Copper posted a return on revenue of 58% in 2018, up from just 2.49% in the prior year. Serbia Zijin Bor Copper was also the most profitable company in Serbia in 2018, as it generated 12% of the total net profit of the Serbian economy during the year, according to data from the country’s Business Registers Agency.

Romania’s state-run hydro power producer Hidroelectrica descended one position to third place in the money makers ranking, even though its return on revenue improved to 44% from 41%. Yet again in 2018, the profitability chart remained dominated by Romanian companies which represent half of all entrants.

At the other end of the chart, the electricity sector dominated the money losers ranking, with four members out of ten.

Romanian state-controlled energy holding company Complexul Energetic Oltenia posted the highest net loss among money losers in 2018, of 243 million euro, after booking a net profit of 38.8 million euro in 2017. The company, which nosedived to 89th position in the TOP 100 ranking from 44th place in the previous edition, owed some 169 million euro to the Romanian state budget at the end of 2018. It closed the year in negative territory even though it expected 14.8 million euro in net profit.

Bulgarian oil refiner Lukoil Neftochim Burgas and Slovenian household appliances manufacturer Gorenje ranked second and third, respectively, among money losers.
Lukoil Neftochim Burgas, part of Russia’s Lukoil, turned to a net loss of 130 million euro in 2018 from an impressive net profit of 155.4 million euro in the prior year, following a rise in expenses.

Gorenje’s financial performance was affected by its integration into its new owner, China’s Hisense Group, which has decided to divest non-core businesses.

Thus, the Slovenian company turned to a 126.8 million euro net loss in 2018 from a slim net profit of 473,000 euro in 2017.

Fifth-ranked Croatian retailer Konzum and its Serbian peer Mercator-S, both units of Agrokor, remained on the list of money losers, even though they were the only companies to improve their financial performance after being ranked among the top three in last year’s edition.