Picture: BLOOMBERG/SUMIT DAVALl
Picture: BLOOMBERG/SUMIT DAVALl

The share price of packaging group Nampak fell to a more than two-decade low on Monday after it warned that its 2019 profit will be severely reduced by several misfortunes, including a R1.9bn foreign-exchange loss in Zimbabwe.

The company’s share price slid as much as 10.8% in morning trade on Monday after it announced that its headline earnings from continuing operations for the year to end-September were expected to decrease by 67%-72% when it releases its results on Wednesday. Headline earnings is the preferred measure of profitability for many companies as it focuses only on day-to-day operations and excludes one-off transactions.

Nampak, which has a market capitalisation of R4.6bn, expects a headline loss from continuing and discontinued operations of between 18.9c and 19.9c, from headline earnings per share of 173.3c previously.

Zimbabwe and Angola, the two southern African operations that have dragged down Nampak’s earnings in the past, were once again the main culprits for the declines. The group recorded a R1.9bn net pretax foreign exchange loss in Zimbabwe. In Angola, a change in tax legislation saw Nampak fall in a “higher than anticipated” effective tax rate as the company did not get a full  deduction  for losses it incurred due to foreign exchange movements.

Nampak has previously warned that currency volatility in Angola and Zimbabwe were weighing on its performance. This was part of the reason it opted not to resume dividend payments for its six months to end-March, though finalisation of the disposal of its glass business was also a factor.

In September, the company announced it had sold that business to Isanti Glass 1 for R1.5bn, an entity 60% held by black-owned investment company Kwande and 40% owned by a subsidiary of AB InBev.

But despite the problems it faced in these markets, Nampak has maintained its commitment to Zimbabwe and Angola. The cash-generative nature of the Zimbabwean businesses made the country appealing to Nampak even with its foreign exchange shortages and difficulties in repatriating cash from the country in the past.

In Angola, the changes in tax legislation compounded an already difficult operating environment for Nampak as the devaluation of the local currency in 2018 reduced local consumption and profits this year.

The plummeting of Nampak’s earnings will not bode well for outgoing CEO Andre de Ruyter, who was appointed as the new CEO of Eskom last week. De Ruyter, whose appointment is said to have “shocked the markets” when Eskom’s bond yield shot up after it was announced, is already facing scrutiny from the EFF and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA, among others.

Nampak’s share price closed 5.86% lower at R6.75 on Monday, having earlier fallen as much as 10.8% to R6.39, its worst level since December 1998.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za