The Johannesburg Stock Exchange, in Sandton, Johannesburg. File picture: ROBERT TSHABALALA
The Johannesburg Stock Exchange, in Sandton, Johannesburg. File picture: ROBERT TSHABALALA

Thursday is bumper results day, with Standard Bank, MTN, Sanlam, Aspen and Exxaro scheduled to release financial statements.

Chinese stock exchanges rallied following the release of February’s export data.

"Exports from China soared 44.5% year on year to $171.6bn in February, far above estimates of a 13.6% growth and after a 11.1% increase in a month earlier. It was the strongest rise in outbound shipments in three years, due to robust demand at home and abroad," Trading Economics reported.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 1.44% while mainland China’s Shenzhen component index rose 0.46% and Shanghai composite index rose 0.25%.

The rally lifted Naspers’s associate Tencent 1.8% to H$442, boding well for the JSE’s all share index rebounding from Wednesday’s 0.47% fall.

Standard Bank completes the quartet of big-four bank results on Thursday.

The JSE’s second-largest bank, with a market capitalisation of R364bn, has not issued a trading update as would be required if its earnings for the year to end-December differed by more than 20% from the prior year. But it has issued a stream of management reshuffle announcements recently.

In September, Sim Tshabalala who had been joint-CEO of Standard Bank alongside Ben Kruger, became the group’s sole CEO.

While joint-CEO, Tshabalala had doubled as CEO of the group’s South African operations. In December, former National Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile was appointed CEO of Standard Bank SA.

On March 2, Standard Bank announced Zweli Manyathi would succeed Peter Schlebusch as CEO of its personal and business bank division.

Standard Bank’s insurance subsidiary Liberty, which has been headed by the group’s former CEO of corporate and investment banking, David Munro, since May 2017, released its results on March 2.

Liberty reported a 47% jump in headline earnings, but said this was due to an "accounting mismatch on the consolidation of the Liberty Two Degrees".

MTN said on March 2 it expected to report on Thursday that it had returned to profit in the year to end-December after the fine it received in Nigeria dragged it into a loss in 2016.

MTN said it expected to report headline earnings per share (HEPS) of between R1.70 and R1.90 compared with a headline loss per share of 77c in 2016.

Although profitable, its HEPS for 2017 were dragged down by R4.83 in one-off costs. This comprised 46c for its Nigerian fine from R5 the previous year, "hyperinflation adjustments excluding impairments" of 96c, foreign exchange losses of R1.59, a 24c expense for its empowerment scheme Zakhele Futhi, and a R1.58 "derecognition of a loan to an IHS tower subsidiary".

Life insurance and pension fund management group Sanlam is scheduled to release its results for the year to end-December on Thursday.

Sanlam has not released a trading statement, but said in an operating update on December 6 that its diluted HEPS increased by 2% in the first 10 months of its financial year.

"The lower level of growth in diluted headline earnings per share compared to normalised headline earnings is attributable to the one-off deferred tax asset of R1.3bn raised in 2016 following the introduction of the risk policy fund in SA for tax purposes. This significantly increased the comparative earnings base," Sanlam said.

Pharmaceuticals group Aspen said in a trading statement on February 15 that it expected to report interim HEPS growth of between 28% and 32% on Thursday.

Exxaro said on Tuesday that it expected to report HEPS of between R4.52 and R5.32 for the year to end-December, nearly a third of 2016’s R13.02.