Energy companies swing between highs and lows

By Genta Hodo

Extreme volatility on the energy markets in 2022 impacted industry players in different ways, pushing some to the top spots of the most profitable companies ranking in SEE and burdening others with substantial losses. For metal producing companies, however, the economic recovery and global shift to green energy is all good news as demand for their output surges.

Gold-copper producer Serbia Zijin Mining, a subsidiary of China’s Zijin Mining Group, topped the most profitable companies’ chart with a 61.46% return on revenue. Serbia Zijin Mining doubled the production of copper and increased its gold product by 50% in 2022, shortly after establishing operation in its Cukaru Peki mines in 2021. An ongoing investment of $3.8 billion in its Serbia mines promises a further boost to production and sales.

The next three places in the ranking are taken up by Romanian state-owned energy producers. Hydro power producer Hidroelectrica, which was No. 1 in the ranking for three years, came in second with a return on revenue of 44.42%. Its profit increased by over 40%, as a surge in electricity prices and efficient operations offset a drop in electricity sales. The company’s excellent performance preceded an IPO in July 2023, the biggest in Romania’s history, which put the company’s market capitalisation at 9.4 billion euro.

Nuclearelectrica, operator of Romania’s sole nuclear power plant Cernavoda, expanded its profitability to 41.37% in 2022 from 31.89% in the previous year, also due to the increase in energy prices. Despite a sharp 75% rise in operating expenses and a slight drop in energy production, the company’s profits spiked 165% to 558.8 million euro in 2022.

Romanian coal-based energy producer Complexul Energetic Oltenia (CE Oltenia) rebounded to profitability in 2022 following two years of financial difficulties. However, the 36.57% profitability in 2022 is largely attributed to restructuring aid it has received.

Three power utilities topped the money-losers chart as unfavourable weather conditions, high import prices and government policies dented their results. At the top of the list, Serbian state-owned power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) quadrupled its 2021 loss to 620.8 million euro in 2022. The company attributed its loss to the recordhigh price it was forced to pay for imports after production fell due to problems with the coal supplies and a long drought.

Croatia’s state-owned power utility Hrvatska Elektroprivreda turned to losses of 620.7 million euro as it too had to pay for expensive imports while struggling with price caps imposed by the government. In the third place, Slovenia’s Holding Slovenske Elektrarne’s financial result was impacted by a drop in output due to drought and the temporary closure of a thermal power plant.

The biggest earners list included six new entrants, two of which are based in Serbia, three in Romania and one in Bulgaria. Romania was best represented with five entrants, followed by Serbia with two, and Slovenia and Bulgaria with one each.

Romania also dominated the money losers’ chart, with six companies. Other countries represented in the biggest money losers’ chart were Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Bulgaria with one company each.


Most profitable companies is a ranking of the top 10 companies with the highest return on revenue in SEE TOP 100. Return on revenue is calculated as net profit divided by total revenue, both in euro terms. To allow comparison, all local currencies have been converted into euro, using the central banks’ official exchange rates on the last working day of 2022 and 2021, respectively.
Money losers is a ranking of 10 companies with the most significant losses in SEE TOP 100. To allow comparison, all local currencies have been converted into euro, using the central banks’ official exchange rates on the last working day of 2022 and 2021, respectively.

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