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Five things making headlines in South Africa today

WEF Africa day two, FirstRand, Sanlam and Implats results, Eskom’s strategy for keeping the lights on.

Here’s what caught our attention on Thursday:

1. WEF Africa day two

It’s day two of the World Economic Forum’s Africa summit, where business and political leaders, as well as academics and members of civil society from all over Africa are in attendance. On day one, President Cyril Ramaphosa sought to convey the single message that South Africa is open for business. This was against the backdrop of xenophobic violence plaguing the streets in Gauteng, forcing shop owners to close their stores. Nigeria has also decided to boycott the conference as a result of the riots. The action comes after Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said he would send an envoy to meet with Ramaphosa and ensure the safety of Nigerian citizens in SA. Ramaphosa pledged to quell violence in the streets.

Read: Nigeria boycotts Africa economic summit over anti-foreign riots

Ramaphosa: SA must quell attacks on foreigners

Further to this, Business Unity South Africa leader Sipho Pityana adds his voice to the collection of leaders saying South Africa needs concrete plans to kick-start the growth of the economy and to ensure a recovery at Eskom. He says South Africa needs to act, and it needs to act fast.

Read: Saving SA requires less talk, more action, lobby says

2. FirstRand results

South African bank FirstRand is reporting a 5% increase in both headline earnings and basic and diluted  headline earnings per share to R27.88 billion and 497.2 cents, respectively. Normalised earnings for the year ended June 30, 2019 amounted to R27.89 million, up 6%. The company says the underlying growth momentum in First National Bank, Rand Merchant Bank and Aldermore remains strong, adding that Wesbank continues to weather tough conditions. FirstRand is declaring an ordinary dividend per share of 291 cents, up 6%.

Read: FirstRand reports 5% rise in FY profit

3. Sanlam interim results

Life insurance and financial services company Sanlam is reporting a 31% fall in headline earnings to R3.53 billion for the six months ended June 30, 2019 and a 32% drop in basic headline earnings per share to 170.7 cents for the period. The company highlights the net result from financial services increasing 13% and net operational earnings increasing 15%.

Sanlam says against the backdrop of a slowing economy during the first half of the year, it was able to produce ‘pleasing’ operational performance, adding that its growth was augmented by the Saham Finances corporate activity in the second half of 2018.

4. Impala Platinum results

For the full year ended June 30, 2019, Impala Platinum is reporting an increase in gross profit of R6.8 billion. The company returned to profit from losses incurred in 2019. Headline earnings increased to R3 billion and headline earnings per share amounted to 423 cents. The platinum producer’s net cash from operating activities amounted to R10.7 billion and the company says it generated R7.7 billion in free cash flow. In terms of output, Implats delivered a 5% increase in refined PGM, a 4% increase in refined platinum and 7% increase in refined palladium. It says higher sales volumes were delivered into stronger rand PGM pricing, resulting in a ‘significantly improved’ performance. No dividend is being declared for the period.

Read: Impala Platinum delays job cuts due to improved earnings – sources

5. Eskom’s conviction towards SA’s power supply

Eskom has not ruled out the possibility of load shedding disrupting the festive season. The utility’s COO, Jan Oberholzer says Eskom’s power system remains ‘tight and vulnerable’, adding that power plants need to undergo maintenance and that the risk of coal stockpiles being depleted remains. He however added that the utility intends to maintain its momentum and power supply as part of its summer plan over the next seven months. 

Read: Eskom’s ‘credible’ plan to keep the lights on

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