Today in business: Comair CEO quits
Comair CEO quits
Wrenelle Stander has resigned as CEO of Comair, which owns kulula.com and manages the British Airways franchise in SA.
Glenn Orsmond, who is part of the consortium which will take over Comair following its business rescue process, will be the new CEO. Kirsten King has been appointed chief financial officer.
Some clients struggling as retrenchments increase, Standard Bank warns
In a trading update, Standard Bank says its group headline profit will be down more than 20% for the year to end-December. This indicates a strong recover in the past few months - in the first nine months of the year, its profit was down 39%.
It still hasn't decided yet whether it will pay a final dividend for the year.
Clients who represent some 8% - or R47 billion – of its total credit portfolio in personal and business banking are still receiving relief for payments. This is down from 18% at the end of June. Approximately 80% of the current client relief portfolio is for home loans and vehicle finance.
“The lapsed client relief portfolio continues to reflect strong payment behaviour and has performed in line with our previous expectations,” the bank said in a statement. But it warned of “pockets of pressure”, particularly within personal unsecured lending, and that there is a continued increase in retrenchments.
Requests for relief from its corporate and investment banking clients have tapered off. Total relief provided – including additional credit, as well as interest and/or capital holidays – reached R24 billion at the end of October, from R21 billion at the end of June.
The group’s credit loss ratio for the ten months to 31 October 2020 was lower than the 169 basis points reported at June, but Standard warned that the outlook remains very uncertain.
Standard Bank's share price took a beating on Monday morning, falling almost 4.5% - along with other banks, including Absa, which also fell by more than 4%.
Barloworld suffers loss, despite strong equipment sales growth overseas
The logistics and fleet management company Barloworld saw its revenue fall by 17% to below R50 billion, while it suffered a normalised headline loss for 30c per share from the year, versus a profit of R11.67 last year. The company cut overhead costs by more than R400 million.
Barloworld, which distributes CAT equipment, says its equipment sales fell 14% - but fared better than expected. Its equipment division in Europe and Asia saw revenue rise by 22% thanks to strong mining sales, particularly in the gold sector.
Gordhan v. Moyane at state capture hearing
Big day at the state capture commission, with finance minister Pravin Gordhan due to be cross-examined by former SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane’s advocate. The cross examination is expected to focus on whether Moyane was part of state capture – as Gordhan claimed in the past. Gordhan was previously scheduled to appear at the commission, but failed to pitch, claiming “cabinet commitments”, which left the commission's chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, fuming.
Later this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa will face his first motion of no confidence in parliament, which was instituted by the ATM. He’s expected to survive. Tricker may be the ANC’s national executive committee meeting, also scheduled for this week, amid calls to act against party secretary-general Ace Magashule, who recently appeared in court on charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering.
Gold on track for worst month since 2016
The rand is starting this week at around R15.26/$ - from around R15.35 a week ago. Last week it strengthened to R15.10 thanks to new hopes for Covid-19 vaccines, and US markets traded around record levels last week amid the renewed optimism. But Gold is on track to lose 6% of its value this month – its biggest monthly fall in four years.
Petrol cheaper, diesel pricier
The petrol price will fall by 13c a litre for both grades of petrol on Wednesday, but diesel prices will increase by 19.86c a litre.
Aveng suffers loss
Infrastructure and mining group Aveng reported an annual headline loss of R950 million, compared to a loss of R1.545 billion last year.
On Wednesday last week, Aveng's share price jumped by 50% on a single day after it announced that it reached an agreement on a R300 million rights offer, and the restructuring of its local debt.
Discovery to 'pre-pay' Comair R100m
Fin24 reports that Discovery will prepay R100 million to Comair for future services that the airline offers to Vitality, to help get the airline group off the ground. Comair, which operates kulula and British Airways in SA, has been in business rescue for many months.
Mr Price profit down 25%
Mr Price this morning reported that its half-year headline profit fell by almost 25%, with total revenue down 14% to R9.2 billion. The retailer reports that consumers' appetite for credit is low, and that they prefer to transact in cash. They also still prefer to shop in convenient locations close to their homes, compared to large shopping centres. Online sales grew 71.5% and now account for 2.5% of the group's sales.
The group's share price jumped more than 8% on Thursday.
Mr Price also announced plans to buy local retailer Power Fashion. The chain has 170 stores across Southern Africa, mostly on the high street and in community-centred malls rather than in large shopping centres.
FirstRand profit down, but recovery stronger than expected
FirstRand warned that its half-year profits would likely be up to 25% lower, but said that its revenues had been higher than expected, and that debt repayments have recovered to better-than-expected levels.
Firstrand trading update. Very similar to mr price and almost all consumer facing companies, circumstances are still bad, but better than anticipated a few months ago— Wayne McCurrie (@WayneMcCurrie) November 26, 2020
Nampak warns of big loss
The packaging group Nampak will report a large loss due to the impact of the pandemic on its operations and writing off R4 billion in value from its Angolan and Nigerian operations.
Bitcoin slumps after coming close to record level
In a single trading session yesterday, Bitcoin fell by over 10% as cryptocurrency traders cashed in on holdings whose values have gained 20% this month alone. The digital token looked set to hit a record high of $20,000 this week.
Zizi Kodwa implicated in EOH corruption
The Zondo commission heard testimony from the law firm ENS that State Security Deputy Minister Zizi Kodwa may have received R375,000 in donations directly from Jehan Mackay, the owner of ICT firm EOH. The commission also heard more details about how EOH colluded with government officials to secure tenders, and Joburg mayor Geoff Makhubo was also implicated.
Outrage at Woolworths
Woolworths shareholders grilled execs at its annual general meeting yesterday after it was confirmed that its former CEO Ian Moir received a R77 million payout with a year of pay for no work and a restraint-of-trade agreement. Moir, who recently left the company, oversaw the group’s disastrous expansion into Australia and the destruction of billions in shareholder value.
Markets surge after Trump agrees to Biden transition
Overnight, US markets rallied after US president Donald Trump agreed to let the transition to a Biden administration proceed. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed above 30,000 for the first time – after sinking to 18,213 in March. Bitcoin surged above $19,000 for the first time since 2017. But the shift away from safe-haven assets dragged the gold prices to its lowest level - $1,800/oz - since July.
This morning, the rand was at R15.21/$, its best level in two weeks, after the US dollar took a hit. The markets believe US president-elect Joe Biden’s Treasury Secretary pick - Janet Yellen, a former Fed chair – will ensure more fiscal stimulus. This means more US government debt – negative for the dollar in the longer run.
Cash-flush Lewis Group hikes dividend by 11% despite lockdown hit
The furniture and electronics retailer Lewis Group saw its half-year headline profit climb by almost 10% - despite the big impact of the lockdown, which cost it R360 million in sales. Revenue decreased by 1.6% to R3 billion. “The group’s robust balance sheet and cash position ensured that no bank funding was required as the business remained cash positive during the lockdown period,” the company said. Cash sales have increased by 46% with credit sales growing by 1.5%. It hiked its interim dividend by almost 11%.
Gold stumbles after Oxford vaccine news
The gold price crashed to its lowest level in four months after Oxford and AstraZeneca confirmed that their Covid vaccine – which is cheaper and easier to distribute – proved effective. Gold is seen as a safe-haven investment in times of uncertainty.
Oil prices rallied amid renewed optimism about the global outlook, and the rand was last trading at R15.36/$.
Sasol to sell Texas plant
Sasol announced this morning that it will sell its 50% stake in a polyethylene plant in Texas for $404 million (R6.2 billion) in a new deal. This will help reduce its debt burden of around R160 billion.
Omnia cuts debt burden
Another company that is struggling with debt, the chemicals and fertiliser group Omnia, announced this morning in its half-year results that its net debt reduced to below R2 billion from almost R3.3 billion. A strong local agricultural season helped to boost its profits and cashflow.
Coronation hikes dividend by 12%
Asset manager Coronation reported an increase of almost 17% in its annual headline profit, despite its assets under management staying flat at R569 billion. Its dividend per share was hiked by more than 12%.
Coronation Fund Managers FY 2020 results:Revenue ??10.7%HEPS ??16.6% to 398.5 cents per shareDividend ??12.3% to 383 cents per sharePE 10.50 DIV YIELD 9.1% ??????— PJ van Niekerk (@Traderpjvn) November 24, 2020
Momentum Metropolitan posts quarterly profit
Momentum Metropolitan released solid quarterly results this morning, which showed the group delivered normalised headline profit of more than R1 billion for the quarter, thanks in part to increased sales of its products.
Strong revenue growth for Naspers, Prosus
Naspers has reported a 32% increase in half-year revenue* to $13 billion. Its subsidiary Prosus, which owns a 31% stake in the Chinese behemoth Tencent as well as in a number of food delivery businesses, online retail and education, saw its income rise 32% to $12.7 billion. Food delivery revenue grew by 141%. Prosus’ core headline profit increased by 28% to $2.2 billion, also thanks to a growing contribution from Tencent.
Rand stable despite downgrades
The rand is at R15.37/$ this morning – stable, despite further downgrades by Fitch and Moody's on Friday evening. Finance minister Tito Mboweni warned that the downgrades will have "immediate implications” for SA’s borrowing costs.
Key meeting for SABC
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) will meet with SABC executives today amid a continuing threat of strike a the broadcaster, which plans to retrench more than 400 employees.
Pepkor profit down
This morning Pepkor - which owns stores like PEP, Ackermans and Incredible Connection - reported a 3.6% increase in revenue to almost R64 billion for the year to end September, with its headline profit down by a third. The group saw strong sales momentum in October and November, with double-digit like-for-like sales growth.
Oil sale invalid, court finds
The Western Cape High Court ruled that the controversial sale of 10 million barrels of oil from SA’s strategic reserves in 2015 was invalid. The oil was sold for R2 billion less than its actual value.
Sasol shareholders vote against pay hikes
On Friday Sasol shareholders who own more than half of the company voted against the proposed implementation of its remuneration policy. This is despite the company’s pre-emptive strike earlier this week to slash fees for the chairman and non-executive directors by 20%.
SABC suspends retrenchments for a week
The SABC has suspended its planned retrenchments of 400 people for a week following a threat of a strike.
Netcare expects big loss
South Africa's third largest hospital group, Netcare, warned that it may report a R2.3 billion loss as patients shied away from surgeries in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic
Investec clients were hit hard in lockdown
Investec's half-year profit has halved as the pandemic, volatile markets and a weakening rand hit its bottom line. It saw some of its clients take strain due to the pandemic. "Various forms of relief" were provided for 23% of South African loans at the height of the lockdown. This has now improved to 2.2% of SA loans and 6.3% of UK loans.
SARB leaves interest rate unchanged
The Reserve Bank's monetary policy committee has kept interest rates unchanged, with the prime rate staying at 7%.
Two of the monetary policy committee members voted in favour of a cut, and three against. The Reserve Bank has slightly improved its view of how much the SA economy will shrink this year - it previously thought it would contract by 8.2%, it now expects 8%.
In September, governor Lesetja Kganyago said the Reserve Bank's models do not make provision for further cuts in the near term. Instead there are two rate increases on the horizon, in the third and fourth quarters of 2021.
For today's interest rate decision, 13 economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect no cut. 4 expect a 25 bp cut.I'd be surprised if we see a cut. The Governor made it clear that the next move is up (unless anything major changes of course).Prime is currently at 7.00%. pic.twitter.com/vmDOVctHRL— Johann Biermann ???? (@JohannBiermann1) November 19, 2020
Woolworths sales up almost 4%
Woolworths said that its sales for the first 20 weeks of the financial year increased by 3.5% compared to the same period last year.
Absa's good news on bad debts
Absa also released a trading update, saying third-quarter credit write-offs were better than expected. Revenue growth for the past nine months was similar to the 3% increase in the first half.
Confusion at SABC
SABC workers learned that widespread retrenchments will proceed – even as government criticised the broadcaster for negotiating in bad faith with workers.
SA receives R110bn in investment pledges
President Cyril Ramaphosa said that government received almost R110 billion in new investment commitments from more than 50 companies during this week’s investment conference. Much of the new investments will be in manufacturing.
Telkom CEO sells shares
Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko has sold more than R6 million in company shares.
Strong sales growth at Spar
The SPAR group this morning reported a 9% increase in its annual headline profit, with turnover jumping almost 14% to R124 billion. It suffered big losses in Poland, but sales at both SPAR Switzerland and its Irish EUROSPAR stores grew by almost 12%. In Southern Africa, there was a strong demand for groceries, with its food sales up more than 9%. Local prices at Spar stores rose by 3.9% over the past year.
Sasol backtracks on fees
Sasol announced that it will cut 20% of the fees it would have paid directors for this year, due to the “significant challenges still facing Sasol and in acknowledgement of the erosion of shareholder value over the past two years".
Santam forced to pay lockdown losses
In a big blow to Santam, the Western Cape High Court yesterday ruled that it is liable to pay for business interruption losses related to the Covid-19 lockdown. It also ordered the insurer to pay for the impact over the policy period of 18 months and that it should pay the applicant's legal costs.
Upheaval at SABC
The plan to retrench up to 400 SABC employees met with resistance on Tuesday, with lunchtime pickets and reports that television anchors would refuse to go on air. Retrenchment letters have been issued, but an exec reportedly said yesterday that the letters would be “reversed”.
Pandemic wipes out eTV owner's profit
eTV owner eMedia Holdings warned that its half-year profit slumped by between 87% and 97% due to a collapse of advertising income during the pandemic.
Alexander Forbes warns of profit decline
In a trading update, Alexander Forbes warned that its headline profit per share will be between 36% to 46% lower.
WBHO suffers 'unprecedented' loss
The construction group Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon suffered a loss of R508 million for the year to end-June – from a profit of almost R549 million in the previous year.
The group blamed the “unprecedented” loss on the impact of Covid, which added to substantial losses in its Australian business and hesitant fixed capital investment in the UK ahead of the conclusion of Brexit negotiations.
Group revenue increased by 6% to R43 billion in the current year. This is despite a 12% decline in revenue from South Africa due to lockdown regulations.
But WBHO says it has seen a noticeable uptick in activity in recent months, and it has secured new projects to the value of R9.4 billion. Its share price was up 3% by Tuesday afternoon.
Bidcorp hit by second Covid wave
In a trading update, the food services group Bidcorp warned that new lockdowns in Europe and the UK are hitting its business.
“The financial year started relatively well, with most geographies seemingly coming out of the worst of the Covid crisis, with July showing a strong financial performance, particularly in Europe and UK. Unfortunately, this started deteriorating in August and has worsened with Europe and UK now firmly in the grip of a harsh second wave that is showing little sign of easing. This is having a significant impact on us once again.”
However, its emerging market business, as well as in Australia, New Zealand and Asia are doing well, the group says. Group sales (in constant currency) for the financial year to date peaked in the week ended August 2nd at 87% versus the corresponding week in the past year, but had eased to 71% of the corresponding weekly sales for the week ended November 8th.
Ninety One profit flat
The asset manager Ninety One, which was unbundled from Investec earlier this year, released its half-year results, which showed that assets under management increased 15% to £119 billion, though average AUM decreased by 3% and the company saw net outflows of £0.3 billion.
Its net revenue decreased 1% to £297.3 million, although performance fees increased "substantially".
Its profit remained flat, and the company declared an interim dividend of 5.9p per share. Its share price was up 4% late on Tuesday.
Moderna vaccine boosts markets, rand
US stocks rallied hard overnight after Moderna announced its coronavirus vaccine candidate reliably protected patients from Covid-19. The Dow Jones industrial average closed at its first all-time high since February, while the S&P 500 also finished the day at a record level. The rand strengthened more than a percent and was last trading at R15.33/$.
Stor-Age units 86% full
Stor-Age, the self-storage group which runs facilities in both SA and the UK, reported a 2% rise in its annual headline profit this morning. Its storage facility occupancy rate is 86%.
Shoprite sales up more than 3%, but booze ban bites
Shoprite reported sales growth in South Africa of 3.3% for the quarter to end-September - despite being hit hard by the restrictions on selling alcohol, with its LiquorShop business remaining closed for 60 of the 91 days in the period. Excluding LiquorShop, sales rose 7.2%. The group increased prices at all its stores by an average of 4.4%. OK Furniture and House & Home increased sales by almost 21% - with almost 90% in cash sales. But this was not enough to please the market: Shoprite's share price fell by more than 8% yesterday.
Naspers profit to fall due to Prosus listing
Naspers expects its core half-year headline earnings to fall by between 1.3% and 7.4% given a reduced contribution from its Prosus business, due to its listing last year.
Vodacom reports surge in SA data demand
In its half-year results, Vodacom reported a massive 86% increase in demand for data in South Africa as lockdown required those working and learning from home to connect.
This helped to increase Vodacom's half-year revenue by almost 8% to R47.8 billion, with its headline profit up 16%. Its dividend was hiked by 9%. Vodacom added 4.1 million customers (to 120 million), and the total number of customers which make use of its financial services grew by 14% to almost 55 million.
Last of Lake Charles units online
Sasol announced that last of its seven units at its embattled Lake Charles Chemicals Project (LCCP) was brought into operation. This unit was damaged in a fire during commissioning in January 2020. “The LCCP is now 100 percent complete with total capital expenditure forecast to be within the previously communicated guidance of US$12.8 billion.” The project was originally budgeted to cost less than $9 billion.
Big week for Zondo commission
This morning, the commission of inquiry into state capture is expected to hear an application from former president Jacob Zuma for Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to be recused. Zuma contends that he had a "close personal relationship" with Zondo since the early 1990s, when he had sought legal advice from his firm. It is uncertain if Zuma will appear before the commission, despite a summons being issued for him to appear this week.
Warning of rising Covid cases
Last night, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize warned of rising Covid cases in Eastern Cape and the Western Cape. But he said that the these do not necessarily equate to a second wave of infections, as long as it is well managed. He will visit the Eastern Cape this week.
Anchor wants to delist from the JSE
The fund manager Anchor Group wants to delist from the JSE early in 2021 and is offering to buy out shareholders at R4.25 a share - 11% above the average share price over the past month. Shareholders can also choose to remain invested in the delisted entity.
“This is an exciting next step in the evolution of our Group,” said CEO and founder Peter Armitage. “We have built critical mass, with over 15,000 clients and over R65 billion of assets under management and administration, and we believe we will better service our clients in the long term as an unlisted entity.”
The management of the group, along with the black-owned investment group Masimong and Capricorn Capital Partners will have stakes in the new group.
Magashule due in court
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule is set to appear in a Bloemfontein court today to face charges of fraud and corruption - meanwhile News24 reported that the top prosecutor in the case was burgled ahead of the high-stakes asbestos trial.
Markets take strain
Overnight, global markets and the oil price stumbled amid renewed concerns about spiking coronavirus cases, and lockdowns across the world. The rand was at R15.65/$ this morning.
SA unemployment rate hits 30.8%
South Africa's number of jobless has increased to 6.5 million, according to new third-quarter data from Statistics South Africa. It shows the official unemployment rate increased to a record 30.8%.
Mediclinic profit hit by pandemic
Mediclinic’s half-year revenue fell 7%, with headline profit down more than 80%.
Its dividend remains suspended as part of the group's broad response to maintaining its liquidity position following the pandemic, with lockdown hitting operations and hospital admissions.
Multichoice now has 20 million subscribers
Multichoice saw its half-year core headline profit rise 41% to R2.7 billion, with its revenue rising 2% to R26.1 billion.
The group added 1.2m 90-day active subscribers in the year to end-September, and now has more than 20 million subscribers for the first time.
The company says increased consumer demand for video entertainment services and an easing of electricity shortages in southern Africa were offset by rising consumer pressure in many markets.
The 90-day subscriber base is split between 8.7m (43%) in South Africa and 11.4m households (57%) in the rest of Africa. Multichoice's share price was down 1% to R123.67.
Growthpoint shares plummet after equity issue
Growthpoint Properties has raised R4.3bn by issuing new shares. The placement was 2.74 times oversubscribed. The money raised will be used towards settling a portion of its debt. Its share price fell almost 15% following the equity issue.
Growthpoint's equity issue will place c.10% of their shares but only shave off c.2% of their debt. Hence, it is quite obviously massively dilutive. Couple that with a collapse in their payout ratio (100% ~ at least 75%) & forward yield is looking rather rubbish.— Keith McLachlan (@keithmclachlan) November 12, 2020
Yesterday, one of the largest property groups in SA, released a trading update, showing that it only managed to renew fewer than 70% of office leases expiring in the past three months. It did manage to sign a 10-year lease with Absa for nearly 35 000m2 across three buildings.
Among retail properties, its "renewal success rate" was 84%, but rental renewals were concluded on average for -11.55% less in "an extremely competitive and challenging context". Footfall at its malls for July to September was down 52% from the same quarter in 2019.
Ramaphosa relaxes Level 1 rules
Last night, defying expectations, President Cyril Ramaphosa relaxed Level 1 rules. He ended the red-list system, allowing tourists from all countries into SA. Also alcohol trading hours will be “normalised”.
Makwetu passes away
The outgoing Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu has died following a battle with cancer. Serving as AG over the past seven years, he was known for the hard line he took on financial mismanagement in state departments and municipalities.
Nedbank up 10%
Financial shares continued to rally yesterday, with Nedbank jumping 10% in a single session. The sector is riding a wave of optimism triggered by the news that Pfizer’s vaccine has proven effective. But gold – a safe-haven asset in uncertain times – remains under pressure with mining shares DRDGold, Harmony and Northam dropping more than 6%.
Hundreds of SABC jobs to go
The SABC is launching a restructuring process, which will affect 400 to 600 employees.
Magashule in crosshairs
The Hawks have secured a warrant of arrest for former Free State premier Ace Magashule. He is facing allegations of corruption related to a R255 million asbestos tender, which was issued when he was the premier of the Free State.
Treasury mulls shorter-term bond
Bloomberg reports that South Africa plans to introduce a new short-dated bond to help lower government borrowing costs. Treasury is discussing the possibility of issuing a fixed- or floating-rate short-dated note to alleviate pressure on the yield curve.
Life hospitals hit by lower occupancy
Hospital group Life Healthcare has released a trading update for the end of September. The lockdown has hit hospital occupancy, which was at 58.4% for the year, compared to almost 70% in the previous year. A cyber attack on its IT systems cost the company R64 million. While its revenue is expected to fall by between 0.5% and 2.0%, its normalised EBITDA (a measure of profit) will be down by as much as 30%.
New CEO for Metair
The automotive and energy storage company Metair has appointed a new CEO following the early retirement of Theo Loock. Riaz Haffejee, currently the CEO of Sumitomo Rubber South Africa, the local manufacturer of Dunlop tyres, has been appointed to the position.
Sun International income back at 76% of last year's levels
Sun International, which was shut in the first phases of lockdown, and has only been allowed to operate since 1 July, released a business update.By October, its total income was 73% of its income in October 2019. Casino income was 76%, but revenue from rooms and beverage was only 39% of what it was last year October. Its online sports betting was up 122% compared to last year's October, while Sun Slots was 1% higher than last year.
Sun International update gives us the first line-of-sight into SA gaming revenues.. Despite only being allowed 50% capacity, Sun Int casino revenue in October 2020 was 76% of what it was in October 2019. Tsogo Gaming likely better due to better casinoes. Quite incredible.— Keith McLachlan (@keithmclachlan) November 10, 2020
Telkom profit up 25%
Telkom reported a 25% increase in headline profit for the six months to end-September. Its mobile data revenue grew 51%, driven by 81% growth in mobile traffic. It warned that it is started seeing a deterioration in the debtors’ book in recent months, but it wasn’t as bad as previously expected. The company said that “significant work” is underway to prepare Openserve for its value unlock opportunity.
Monster rally in markets after vaccine news
Markets staged a massive rally following the news that the first results from a large trial of 44,000 people showed that the Pfizer/BioNTech proposed vaccine is 90% effective. This was better than was expected.
The oil price jumped 8% in response, with Brent crude oil trading at $42.60 a barrel as investors were encouraged that travel and trade could normalise soon. Sasol jumped 24% in a single session on Monday, to R112.59. Banking shares also rallied, with FirstRand up 12%.
The rand was at its best level in eight months, trading at R15.39/$. Earlier it strengthened to R15.29 – its best level since end-February, before there was a single Covid case in South Africa.
But the optimism was poison to gold, which is the safe-haven asset of choice in tumultuous times. The gold price fell 4.5% to $1,863/oz. Gold Fields fell 15.5%, while Harmony dropped 16%. This is despite Harmony’s solid trading update today, which showed a 38% increase in gold output and falling costs. Its operating free cash flow almost tripled quarter-on-quarter to R1.8 billion.
Strong growth in Multichoice profit
Multichoice says its half-year headline profit will be between 40% and 45% higher than in the previous year.
The company says that while Covid-19 depressed advertising and commercial subscription revenues, “the timing of content costs” and a strong focus on overall cost reduction helped to reduce loses in African markets outside of SA, “which has been the largest contributor to the improvement in group performance”.
Grim Spur update
In further trading update, Spur has warned that its headline profit could be down by up to 55%. This is worse that it previously expected, and the company warned of impairments and credit losses due to the financial plight of franchisees amid the pandemic.
Richemont sales fall, announces big Chinese deal
Richemont reported this morning that its sales for the past half year fell by 26%. In the past three months, there has been a strong recovery in Chinese sales which helped to contain double-digit declines in Europe, the Americas and Japan
Its jewellery sales also showed "strong resilience", with sales in the second quarter growing by 4%.
Richemont also announced that, with Chinese giant Alibaba, it will invest $1.1 billion in Chinese online luxury fashion retailer Farfetch.
Farfetch shopping channels will also be launched on Alibaba's e-commerce sites Tmall Luxury Pavilion and Luxury Soho.
Big news in luxury tonight — Alibaba Group, Richemont & Artemis, the holding company of Kering, have announced $1.15 billion investment in luxury e-commerce platform Farfetch. Big cash injection to fuel China growth, big win for FF & interesting coupling up by Kering/ Richemont.— Elizabeth Paton (@LizziePaton) November 5, 2020
Richemont's share price was up 9% in opening trade on Friday.
Amplats hit after output cut
Amplats' share price took a 1% hit on Thursday after the company cut its guidance on how much refined production it will produce this year, following the closure of a part of its processing facilities.
Phase B unit of its Anglo Converter Plant (ACP) in Rustenburg had to close, again, due to water leaks.
Amplats lowered its 2020 refined production and sales guidance to 2.5 million ounces from 3.1 to 3.3 million ounces.
Sappi reports loss, debt reaches R31bn
Sappi reported a headline loss of 14 American cent for the quarter to end September, due to slower business amid the pandemic and restructuring costs.
Net cash generated for the quarter was $88 million, compared to $173 million in the equivalent quarter last year.
The group reported a large fall in dissolving pulp and graphic paper sales volumes of 29% and 32% respectively.
Packaging and specialities volumes increased compared to the prior year as the US business in particular experienced encouraging sales growth across all of the major product categories, offsetting a slightly weaker performance from the European business, Sappi said. The South African container board business also achieved a strong end to the year.
The Foschini Group suffers loss amid lockdown and sales
The Foschini Group was hit hard by the lockdown, and reported a loss for the half year to end-September. Sales fell more than 15% to R13,9 billion.
Its cash turnover fell by 23,0% while credit turnover, which was "purposely restricted", decreased by 34,7%. Cash turnover now contributes 767% to total sales.
The company took a margin hit of 8% amid "heavy promotional environment".
Due to lockdown and working from home, the company saw an increase in sales of cellphones and homeware.
Market up strongly especially SA retailers. Foschini mr price clicks all up 6% to 7%. Naspers and prosus also doing well. Rand 15.85, well into fair value. Could go to 15.50 but then bottom end of fair value range. All on USA elections and results not as bad as anticipated— Wayne McCurrie (@WayneMcCurrie) November 5, 2020
Dis-Chem eyes new deals
Dis-Chem grew its half-year sales by more than 8% to R12.8 billion. Its headline profit jumped 16%.
The company also announced that it is in the process of acquiring a "a strategic interest" in a healthcare insurance "asset" and a community-based pharmacy group. The acquisition of the healthcare insurance asset is already at an advanced stage, the company said.
JSE does deal with blockchain group
The JSE announced a new agreement with Globacap Technology to establish a blockchain-enabled private placements platform to enable the raising of infrastructure finance and to allow small-to-medium sized issuers to raise capital in South Africa.
MR Price warns about profit fall
In a trading update for the six months to end-September, Mr Price saw its headline profit fall between 23% and 28%. During the month of April - the height of lockdown - lost R1.8bn in sales.
Myeni at Zondo commission
Former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni appeared before the Zondo commission on Wednesday.
In a brief statement, she said that decisions taken by the board as a collective, are all being pinned on her - and then invoked her right to silence when asked further questions about SAA.
Myeni - a close associate of former president Jacob Zuma - is accused of various abuses while at SAA, and former Bosasa executive Angelo Agrizzi previously told the commission Myeni was paid R300,000 monthly by Bosasa.
Mantashe accuses Sibanye of 'stealing' BEE
Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, has criticised Sibanye-Stillwater over its empowerment credentials, claiming that it "stole" its BEE rating, Fin24 reported.
He said that Sibanye's inherited its 15% BEE ownership through the acquisition of Gold Fields assets in 2013. Gold Fields received BEE credits when Tokyo Sexwale's Mvelaphanda Resources, a black investor-owned firm, acquired a stake in its subsidiary.
Telkom rockets after profit update
Telkom's share price rallied by almost 15% to around R30 after the company released a profit update, confirming that its headline profit for the past six months will increase by 15% to 25%.
Group revenue was flat despite growth at Telkom Mobile, but the company said it was "relentlessly focussed" on managing costs.
Fuel prices to fall
The price of petrol (for both 93 and 95) will be lowered by 27c a litre at midnight tonight. Diesel prices will fall by 11c to 12c a litre, while illuminating paraffin prices will increase by 15c.
Overnight, oil prices recovered somewhat after slumping to five-month lows amid concerns about renewed lockdowns in Europe and a contested US election. In the US, stocks rallied yesterday following strong manufacturing data. The rand was stable at R16.21/$ this morning.
Massive run in Aspen's shares after vaccine deal
Aspen’s share price rocketed more than 11% on Monday following the news that it could manufacture as many as 300 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s proposed Covid vaccine.
SAA director's testimony surprises Zondo
Yakhe Kwinana, a former board member of SAA and former chair of the board of SAA Technical, raised eyebrows with her testimony at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture yesterday. Kwinana, a chartered accountant, is accused of receiving millions of rands in bribes and kickbacks. She told the inquiry that she does not regret a single decision she made while on the boards of SAA and SAAT. "Are you saying there is nothing wrong in board members getting involved in meetings where management and executives discuss operational matters? You say it is in order for a board member to do that?" Zondo asked Kwinana, News24 reported. When she answered yes, he uttered in disbelief: "Sjoe!"
Business: TERS doesn't have to end so soon
Business for South Africa has criticised a reported decision by the National Coronavirus Command Council against extending the COVID Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS). The body, which represents business interests, says its investigations found that that there is still available R51 billion in the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and that it could maintain benefits until the end of December.
Kulula, British Airways could fly next month
Comair, which has been in business rescue since May, received approval from the Competition Tribunal to merge with a new venture created by former directors and executives. Following the merger, the company – which owns kulula.com and manages the British Airways franchise in SA – should be able to fly again by December.
Wiese welcomes Jooste's insider trading fine
Former Steinhoff chairperson Christo Wiese has welcomed the news that former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste was fined R122 million for insider trading.
AngloGold plans much larger dividend
AngloGold, which recently sold its last remaining assets in South Africa, has increased its free cash flow by 290% in the past quarter. This is thanks to a 30% higher gold price received, and lower capital expenditure and costs. With its net debt now at the lowest level in almost a decade, the company has doubled its dividend payout ratio to 20% of its free cash flow.
Its share price ended 11% stronger on Monday.
* Business Insider is in the 24.com stable, which is owned by Naspers subsidiary Media24.