At the interim stage Omnia’s agriculture segment was the largest in terms of revenue at 46% of top line, while mining and chemicals accounted for 26% and 28% respectively. But it was a different story at the operating profit level, where agriculture posted a loss of R37m and mining and chemicals turned profits of R105m and R65m respectively. Net finance charges of R218m turned an operating profit into a loss of R93m (R285m last year). Despite revenues increasing 35% (with the inclusion of Oro Agri for the first time), the agriculture division reversed from a profit of R111m a year earlier mainly because drought led to delays in sowing (and therefore fertiliser orders). Margins were hit by, among other things, discounts given to struggling farmers. Inventory levels were also higher, affecting working capital and debt — gearing rose to 59% (34%). Mining was disappointing too. Revenue was flat and operating profits were down by more than two-thirds (R337m last year), partly because of ...

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