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Belgrade Stock Exchange review: Corporate performance amid economic challenges

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Despite facing persistent inflation and high borrowing costs, corporations listed on the Belgrade Stock Exchange (BELEX) had a relatively favorable business year, although the overall outcome was significantly influenced by the performance of the Oil Industry of Serbia (NIS) following its exceptional year in 2022.

NIS, a dominant player in terms of market size and business results, heavily influenced the performance of the benchmark index basket, Belex15. In 2023, Belex15 members saw a 15 percent decrease in operating income and a collective net profit decline of 48 percent to 52.6 billion dinars, largely attributed to NIS.

Lower crude oil prices and a one-time donation to the Government of Serbia contributed to NIS halving its profit to 44.2 billion dinars. Despite this sharp decline, the profit remains above the multi-year average, suggesting satisfaction among shareholders if NIS can maintain this level in the current year. Similarly, Impol Seval (IMPL), an aluminum rolling mill, experienced a significant profit correction, with an 88 percent decrease to 332.9 million dinars, following exceptional business conditions in 2022.

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Energoprojekt, another Belex15 constituent, continued its trend of declining business results, with income falling below 100 million euros, possibly marking its lowest realization since reporting consolidated reports. On the other hand, Messer Tehnogas experienced real business expansion, driven by the growth of major Chinese businesses in Serbia, leading to a 55 percent profit increase to 3.6 billion dinars.

Metalac saw an improvement in key financial indicators by around 10 percent, primarily due to the better performance of its trading companies. Jedinstvo achieved a record realization in 2023 of 11.7 billion dinars, albeit with a smaller profit increase compared to revenue.

Despite weather-related claims expenses, Dunav Osiguranje managed to enhance profitability, with a 69 percent increase in net profit to 2.5 billion dinars. “Nikola Tesla” Airport also recorded positive growth across financial indicators, partly driven by higher revenues from increased concession fees.

The Belex15 index rebounded by 13.2 percent in the current year, following a 6.2 percent recovery in the previous year. This growth can be attributed largely to Messer’s attempt to consolidate ownership in Tehnogas, resulting in a 52 percent increase in the stock price.

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