Are there any good buys emerging in Greece?

It may be interesting to look at some of the public companies in the hardest-hit European countries, since the stock indices here are lower than anytime in at least a decade. Here are the results of a search for Greek shares, with an eye towards companies in defensive industries that will not be hurt, or could even benefit from a weaker currency.

All of these businesses are likely to survive a very bad economy, even if they go bankrupt – the question is how the equity holders will fare.

Athex index chart (Athex is now 60% lower than at the 2009 bottom): http://www.bloomberg.com/quote/FTASE:IND/chart

List of top 20 Greek companies by market cap as of May 2010: http://topforeignstocks.com/2010/05/09/the-top-20-greek-companies-by-market-capitalization/

Here are a few names – these first 2 look strongest to me (bottler and utility):

Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling Co:

Biggest foriegn Coke bottler

http://www.bloomberg.com/quote/EEEK:GA/chart

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coca-Cola_Hellenic

EUR 13.00, EPS 0.93 – not really cheap yet by earnings, 1.62x book. Keep an eye on this one.

Public Power Corp SA , ticker PPC

Biggest utility in Greece. To raise cash, the gov sold 17% of its until then 51% stake.

Plants are mostly coal-fired.

http://www.bloomberg.com/quote/PPC:GA

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Power_Corporation_of_Greece

EUR 5.30, EPS 1.10 – very cheap by earnings, 15% dividend yield.

Hellenic Telecommunications Organization S.A., ticker HTO

http://www.bloomberg.com/quote/HTO:GA

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OTE

3.6% div yield, 15 PE. 1.14x book – not cheap at all, though stock is way down

Boutaris J & Sons Holdings SA , ticker MPK (preferred shares also traded)

6 Greek wineries, one in France, most recognised Greek wine brand

Company website: http://www.boutari.gr/?TEFORz1FTg==

http://www.bloomberg.com/quote/MPK:GA

No earnings data available, but trading at 0.3x book and 0.27x sales.

Attica Group

Largest ferry operator

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/quote?ticker=ATTICA:GA

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attica_Group

No earnings data, but 0.12x book

ANEK Lines SA

Ferries

http://www.bloomberg.com/quote/ANEK:GA

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ANEK_Lines

Cops retiring as millionaires

A Forbes blogger does the math:

It is said that government workers now make, on average, 30% more than private sector workers. Put that fantasy aside. It far underestimates the real figures. By my calculations, government workers make more than twice as much. Government workers are America’s fastest-growing millionaires.

Doubt it? Then ask yourself: What is the net present value of an $80,000 annual pension payout with additional full health benefits? Working backward, the total NPV would depend on expected returns of a basket of safe investments–blue chip stocks, dividends and U.S. Treasury bonds.

Investment pros like my friend Barry Glassman say 4% is a reasonable return today. That’s a pitiful yield, isn’t it? It is sure to disappoint the scores of millions of baby boomers who will soon enter retirement with nothing more than their desiccated 401(k)s, down 30% on average from 30 months ago, and a bit of Social Security.

Based on this small but unfortunately realistic 4% return, an $80,000 annual pension payout implies a rather large pot of money behind it–$2 million, to be precise.

That’s a lot. One might guess that a $2 million stash would be in the 95th percentile for the 77 million baby boomers who will soon face retirement.

Cops have a better racket these days than during prohibition. It’s not just cops, either — millions of teachers, firefighters, administrators, transit workers, janitors and all kinds of unionized government employees are effectively millionaires.

Video: Public employee of the year awards (SNL)

Mish put this up a few days ago. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must-watch.
http://www.popmodal.com/nvp/player/nvplayer.swf?config=http://www.popmodal.com/nvp/econfig.php?key=eb054f3ea718f61adfa1

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This version may play better in the US:

http://www.hulu.com/embed/AmuCTb1tvO-5YOc5N-97Mg

This is why your state and local governments are bankrupt, as well as the national governments of Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and probably soon France.

Selling munis today is like selling Greek bonds six months ago — the numbers guarantee default. The only question is whether or not there are bailouts, but like with the GIPSI states, there will be a lot of uncertainty leading to higher rates in the interim, and in the end they can’t all be bailed out.

Look at these rates. Considering the risks, that’s a pretty skimpy premium over Treasuries, even considering the tax advantage.

Source: Bloomberg.com