Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Chemicals and explosives group AECI on Wednesday reported a 32% rise in first-half headline earnings per share (HEPS) to R3.86 after managing to keep a tight lid on costs.

But group revenue declined 7% to R8.47bn in the six months to end-June, reflecting the effect of a stronger rand. A third of the group revenue was generated outside SA.

The better performance came from its explosive division, which more than made up for the slack in the chemicals division, which is the biggest by revenue.

Profit from operations rose 19% to R220m in the explosives unit, even as revenue fell 11.6% to R3.67bn. The company said the performance of the unit reflected benefits of cost control and a beneficial product and customer mix.

Profit from operations in the speciality chemicals dropped to R518m from R573m due to a slowdown in the manufacturing sector in SA and a stronger rand.

"Activity in the local manufacturing sector slowed further and the strength of the rand exchange rate against major currencies offset moderate increases in commodity chemical prices," the company said.

AECI declared an interim dividend of R1.38 per share, which was up just 3% on the year-earlier period. Net operating costs dropped to R7.8bn from R8.5bn.

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