The biggest companies in Bulgaria were not just unbothered by the war raging some 400 km to the northeast, but rather booked record profits. The selection of the 50 most profitable companies in the country with over BGN 50 million in revenue each in 2022 shows an average rate of net profitability of nearly 26 stotinki for every lev of revenue - a sort of record in recent years.
In 2022, the most profitable companies in Bulgaria report BGN 25 billion (approximately EUR 12.5 billion) in revenue, up by 45% year-over-year, and BGN 6.5 billion in net profit, up by 79%.
The rise of metals
Leading the ranking of the most profitable companies in 2022 is a business connected to the sector of metals. SELL is the parent company of one of the largest copper mining and processing entities in Bulgaria - Elacite Med. The company consolidates dividends that it receives from Elacite Med, and as long as it does not independently perform additional activities, it practically turns nearly 100% of its income into pure profit. The data shows that revenues increased from BGN 180 million in 2021 to BGN 195 million in 2022, with over 99% of these amounts resulting in profit for the company.
The leading position of SELL in the ranking is not at all accidental, as the metals sector expanded rapidly even before the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022. The strong demand for goods, in this case copper, was initially felt in the middle of 2021, marked by a large-scale inflationary wave. A few months later, the war led to shortages of certain goods and products coming from Ukraine, and Europe's dependence on Russian natural gas coupled with the international sanctions imposed on Russia sent the prices of those goods and energy resources soaring to record highs.
Accordingly, the presence of a number of key producers of raw materials in the ranking is logical. Among them are the gold and copper mining and processing plants of Canadian group Dundee Precious Metals in Chelopech and Krumovgrad, although both saw their turnover and profits slightly fall in 2022.
There was also a drop in profitability at the other large metal mining plant - Asarel Medet, which, despite a 32% rise in revenue, saw its profit margin shrink from 25% to 16%.
The increased demand for all kinds of metals is also evident from the results of Angel Stoilov 96, a trader of ferrous and non-ferrous metals who became one of the largest companies in Bulgaria. The Plovdiv-based company almost tripled its profit in 2022 with about 60% growth in revenue last year, which is reflected in an 18% net margin.
Once in a century
In the economic climate of 2022, the energy business also logically posted cosmic profits - the year was perhaps the best in the history of most Bulgarian energy companies, including the state-owned ones. The sector practically dominates the ranking, representing almost half of it with total revenues of BGN 12.4 billion and over BGN 3.2 billion in profit.
Thanks to the record prices of electricity last year, the Maritsa-East 2 state thermal power plant from the Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) group tripled its revenues to over BGN 4 billion, and its profit reached an unprecedented 1.2 BGN billion. Almost 90% is the revenue growth on an annual basis of Bulgartransgaz.
Thus BEH's revenues reached nearly BGN 22 billion and its net profit increased 2.5 times to BGN 3.13 billion.
Chemicals not far behind
If the representation of the energy industry in the ranking is unsurprising, the performance of a rapidly growing segment is. Chemical companies are bearing fruit and are increasingly being confirmed as strategic for the local economy.
After the closure of fertilizer plants in Ukraine, Bulgarian producers of nitrogen and phosphate fertilizers has thrived. The largest private Bulgarian plant for nitrogen fertilizers, Agropolychim is already a unicorn in terms of turnover, after reporting revenues of over BGN 1.2 billion in 2022, a rise of nearly 80% year-on-year.
Significantly stronger in terms of profitability is also the performance of soda ash producer Solvay Bulgaria, which reports a 70% growth in revenues and a 23-fold increase in profit, to BGN 28 million.
And where are the weapons?
Logically, the arms sector in Bulgaria should have achieved one of its most profitable years. Data is unavailable for a number of local manufacturers and traders, including the state-owned VMZ and Kintex, but Armaco's results hint at a boom in the sector - almost 4 times more revenue and a net margin of nearly 20%.
Don't miss the gambling boom
Despite the entry of a dozen new players, the gambling sector also continued to thrive. The leaders here, especially in online casino games, also reported significant growth in 2022The largest equipment and software manufacturer in the sector, Euro Games Technologies, posted BGN 600 million revenues and nearly BGN 200 million in profit, with both indicators higher by over 70% year-on-year.
The performance of Telematic interactive Bulgaria in terms of market share is slightly weaker, although its profit remains close to the average for the most profitable companies in the country.