Drugstore chain Dis-Chem Pharmacies’s full-year earnings rose by less than expected, the company said on Thursday, as prolonged industrial action offset the impact of price cuts and aggressive promotions.
Dis-Chem said headline earnings per share (Heps) climbed to 85.4 cents in the year ended February from 79.6 cents per share a year earlier, but they still fell short of an average analysts’ estimate of 87 cents from Refinitiv I/B/E/S.
Headline EPS, which strips out certain one-off items, is the most widely watched profit measure in South Africa.
“Unfortunately, the industrial action which began mid-November last year heavily impacted the group’s performance in the current financial period,” the firm said in a statement.
This translated to slower retail revenue growth of 9.7% to R19.6 billion, with comparable store revenue growth at 3.4%. Wholesale revenue grew by 11.2% to R14.5 billion.
Comparable store revenue was hurt by competitive pricing across the personal care and baby sectors, and by a Department of Health decision to implement only a small rise in the maximum price Dis-Chem is allowed by law to charge for some products.
At 0718 GMT, shares in Dis-Chem were down 3.4% at R26.60.
About 2 300 Dis-Chem employees belonging to the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (NUPSAW) went on a national strike from November until April, demanding among other things a rise in the minimum wage.
Dis-Chem, which competes with Clicks Group, said as a result of the strike it incurred direct costs of R50.4 million and indirect costs of between R22.3 million and R26 million.