Investor suffers ‘torturous’ third quarter

Swedish investment giant Investor expressed optimism for the future on Tuesday despite suffering massive third quarter losses.

In the July to September period, Investor – Northern Europe’s largest industial holding company – suffered a net loss of 8.8 billion kronor ($1.2 billion) compared to a net

loss of 7.8 billion kronor in the same quarter last year.

“During the third quarter we experienced an extreme financial turmoil, torturous in nature, which has further escalated into the last quarter of the year,” company chief executive Björn Ekholm said in the earnings statement.

“As a result of this turmoil, our Net Asset Value was down by six percent,” he added.

The credit crisis has weighed heavily on Investor’s assets, which by September 30th had seen their net value slip to 130.2 billion kronor from 174.6 billion a year earlier.

Per share, the net asset value tumbled to 170 kronor from 228 kronor during the same period.

“How deep and long this downturn will be I leave to the macro economists to predict, but I think we should plan for it to be relatively severe,” Ekholm said, adding however that he felt actions being taken by governments and central banks around the world would help stabilize the situation.

“Let us however not assume quick results. Restoring confidence takes time,” he said, but added: “I am fundamentally an optimist and believer in our economic system.”

“I am thus convinced the current environment will provide excellent investment opportunities in a three to five year perspective.”

Among Investor’s main holdings are Swiss-Swedish engineering group ABB, Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca, Swedish bank SEB, industrial equipment manufacturer Atlas Copco, and telecommunications giant Ericsson.

Investor, which is controlled by the influential Wallenberg family, had also been one of the main shareholders in Swedish truckmaker Scania, but it sold those holdings to German Volkswagen in July.

That sale, as well as its sale of the Nordic and Baltic stock exchange operator OMX earlier this year to Bourse Dubai and then on to Nasdaq, allowed the holding company to rake in 20 billion kronor in cash at a time when liquidity shortages are plaguing the financial sector.

Investor has seen its stock price slip 27 percent since January and 12 percent since the beginning of July.

Following its announcement in Tuesday, Investor’s share price climbed 8.20 percent in late-morning trading in a market on average up 5.99 percent.