TALLINN - A recent report released by the Estonian national statistics agency has found that profits for Estonian business fell by more than 50 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2008.
The report found that total profits for Estonian companies in 2008 were down by 39 billion kroons (2.5 billion euros) on the previous year.
"Intense competition on domestic market and decreased demand on external market lead enterprises to lower profits," said the report, which was published on March 9.
According to the statistics agency, only the transport, storage and communication and fishing sectors saw an increase in profit. Retail trade, meanwhile, was one of the hardest hit sectors over the year.
"In activities with the largest share 's in wholesale and retail trade and manufacturing 's profits decreased by 33 [percent] and 22 [percent], respectively," the report said.
The sectors of agriculture, health and social work also operated at a significant loss.
Though profits suffered heavily over the course of the year, sales decreased by only a relatively small amount. The net sales of enterprises in the 12 months totaled 641 billion kroons, marking a decrease by about 2 percent compared with the previous year.
In trade and transport the net sales of companies decreased by 5 percent in each, while in construction net sales decreased by 6 percent compared with the previous year.
The largest decline took place in forestry, where lack of demand and lowered timber prices reduced net sales by 17 percent.
Estonian enterprises invested some 37 billion kroons during 2008, which is 11 percent less than in 2007. Investments in real estate, one of the sectors that has been affected the most by the crisis, decreased by half from 2007.
Enterprises' total profit in the final quarter of 2008 was about 6 billion kroons. The last time the total quarterly profit was so low was in the fourth quarter of 2004.
Compared to the fourth quarter of 2007, companies' total profit decreased 51 percent.
In the fourth quarter the net sales of enterprises totaled 149 billion kroons, which is 13 percent less than in the same period a year ago. In the fourth quarter enterprises invested 9.3 billion kroons, 2.9 billion kroons less than in the final quarter of 2007.
Investments in all categories of tangible assets decreased.