Logistics and mobility company Super Group recently released its results for the six months to December 2023. They start out all right, with group revenue up 11.9%. But by the time you reach headline earnings per share (HEPS), the drop is 16.2%. That’s a significant disconnect, though by no means the only example of this phenomenon on the local market in recent times.

When you see a difference like that, the next step is to find operating profit. This tells you whether the problem was in operations (in other words, expense growth) or the balance sheet (cost of debt). In this case, operating profit was up 4%, which tells us two things. The first is that operating margin went the wrong way, as operating profit growth was below revenue growth. The second is that finance costs were a problem, as operating profit grew and headline earnings suffered a significant decrease...

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