Conditions are bleak and enthusiasm rare, but a few bright spots are shining in the gloom, writes Marc Hasenfuss SURVEYING the industrial wasteland on the JSE can be a depressing bit of sightseeing — even for hardy deep-value investors accustomed to gazing unflinchingly at smouldering wrecks.In the past 18 months the last remnants of upbeat sentiment have largely been rusted away by a combination of punitive energy prices, higher input costs (courtesy of the weaker rand), inflexible and expensive labour, disruptive strikes and government’s iffy economic policies. This environment makes growth without severe cost cutting near impossible, and is certainly not conducive to government’s plans to create (let alone sustain) 100 major black-owned industrialist companies.Listed counters that still manage to trade in the black are accorded dismal earnings multiples that reflect a paucity of market enthusiasm for longer-term prospects for local industrial companies.It is rare these days to fi...

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