VILNIUS - Lithuanian corporate losses almost tripled in the fourth quarter versus the previous year, led by the construction industry, hotels and retailers, reports news agency ELTA. Total gross losses rose to 3.1 billion litas (898.5 million euros), from 1.1 billion litas in the previous quarter, the Vilnius-based statistics office said.
Revenue fell an annual 25 percent to 38.1 billion litas. Earnings at Lithuanian companies are tumbling as domestic demand weakens, wages fall and unemployment rises. Lithuania is coping with its worst economic crisis since the early 1990s. The economy shrank an annual 12.8 percent in the fourth quarter.
“The first results in 2010 will continue to be poor, while price competition will remain strong due to weakening purchasing power,” said Jekaterina Rojaka, chief economist at DnB Nord Bankas. The share of companies that had a profit narrowed to 43.7 percent in the fourth quarter, down from 51.5 percent in the previous three months, the office said.
For all of 2009, corporate losses totaled 1.8 billion litas and sales fell an annual 30 percent. Retailers reported the biggest losses since comparable records began in 2005, while companies selling cars and motorcycles extended a fifth consecutive quarter of losses. Apranga, the biggest clothing retailer in the Baltic region, said on Feb. 26 that its fourth-quarter loss widened from the previous three months. Companies in industries such as crude-oil production, air transport and communications were the most profitable last year.
TEO AB, Lithuania’s biggest communications company, reported on Feb. 10 a 14 percent profit increase in the fourth quarter after cost cutting. The OMX Vilnius stock index of 32 Lithuanian companies has gained 23 percent this year on investor expectations that the nation’s economic decline is bottoming.