Sasol seemed on track for a strong 2018 financial year, analysts said on Tuesday after the petrochemicals group said first-half earnings could rise 17%. The company said headline earnings per share for the six months to December were expected to be 12%-17% higher than the previous year’s. Adjusting for non-recurring items, headline earnings per share would be likely to rise between 1% and 6%, the company said. Sasol benefited from a 19% increase in the average price of Brent crude oil, although this was partially offset by the firming rand. Earnings guidance "was better than we expected – mainly due to the higher average oil price", said Abdul Davids, portfolio manager at Kagiso Asset Management. "Performance chemical prices increased substantially in the last quarter and this will boost Sasol’s earnings quite materially, despite lower production volumes in performance chemicals," Davids said. Hanré Rossouw, portfolio manager at Investec Asset Management, said Sasol "seems to be on ...

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