Marc Hasenfuss Editor-at-large

On the surface, it would appear Howden Africa is preparing for a huge acquisition or the economic apocalypse. The company, which provides specialised air and gas management services and has Eskom as a major customer, finished the six months to end-June with R1.125bn cash on hand. The cash pile is worth about R17/share — representing an inordinately large chunk of intrinsic net asset value. This once again raises the question of why the heck the company hasn’t paid a dividend since 2013. But neither an economic apocalypse nor a major acquisition appear to be on the horizon for Howden. The company posted a more than decent 185c/share in interim earnings, backed by net cash generated from operating activities of R185m (285c/share) and another reassuring performance from its core fans and heat exchangers division. That division had a 20% increase in orders received in the first half of 2017 to R713m (compared with R592m in the corresponding period in 2016). Howden CEO William Thomson sa...

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