Northam Platinum CEO Paul Dunne delivered a strong vote of confidence in the future of the company by spending nearly R1m on buying 26,050 shares on the open market on Wednesday.
Dunne paid between R37.46 and R37.99 each for the shares. In the last two months Northam’s shares have tracked weaker platinum prices, falling from their last peak of R52.89 in October. Over a 12-month period they are 86% higher.
In the group’s recently released annual report, Dunne said Northam was now moving into a growth phase, funded by its significant cash holdings. It held R3.1bn in cash at the end of its last financial year. Its delivery of increased production was expected to coincide with a rising platinum market, he said.
But in its latest Commodities Comment, investment bank Macquarie has downgraded its forecasts for the platinum price, though it said most negative factors, including the continuing decline in European diesel vehicle demand, was already priced in.
Macquarie forecast platinum could gain some ground against gold in the first half of next year because one-third of its demand is from industrial sources, which should benefit from a more robust global economy. Chinese jewellery purchases, which have been even more of a negative factor than diesel vehicles recently, could also revive. But platinum depended largely on the performance of gold. The gold price would rise when global inflation became a concern.
Macquarie said further platinum price strength would emerge only towards 2020, when emissions legislation would favour more platinum in autocatalysts and supply was likely to be lower.
Macquarie predicts platinum will be at $1,006/oz next year (from $910/oz at present), rising gradually to $1,338/oz by 2020.