Company news in brief

14 February 2020 | Business

Gold Fields full-year profits rise

Gold Fields on Wednesday reported a jump in 2019 profit as the South African miner benefited from increased gold production and a higher gold price.

Gold Fields also said it intended to place new shares to raise about US$269 million to help fund its new Salares Norte mining project.

Salares Norte is expected to have a life of around 11 years and an average annual production of 450 000 ounces of gold over the first seven years, Gold Fields said. The gold-silver project in Chile is expected to begin producing in the first quarter of 2023.

The company, which operates producing gold mines in South Africa, Ghana, Australia and Peru, said headline earnings per share (HEPS) rose to US$0.20 per share for the full year ended Dec. 31, from US$0.07 in the year prior and in line with what the company had flagged to the market.

Attributable equivalent gold production for the miner for 2020 is expected to be between 2 275 million ounces and 2 315 million ounces, it said.

Gold Fields declared a final dividend of 100 South Africa cents per ordinary share giving a gross dividend of 160 cents compared with 40 cents per share in the previous year. – Nampa/Reuters

Tiger Brands warns of interim profit fall

South Africa's leading food producer Tiger Brands warned on Wednesday that it expects half-year headline earnings to fall as much as 36% as its bakery and pasta business faced pricing pressure and a legal dispute wiped out exports to Nigeria.

The warning sent shares in the owner of brands such as Jungle Oats and Tastic rice tumbling nearly 8% to their lowest in more than eight years.

Tiger Brands, which is due to report half-year results on May 25, said it expected headline earnings per share from continuing operations of 497-552 South African cents for the six months ending March 31, 2020, down from 773 cents reported a year earlier.

The company said the figures reflect ongoing challenges within the grains portfolio, particularly affecting bakeries, pasta and rice brands. Last year reported it that it was facing pricing pressures in bakery, supply challenges in instant noodles and other issues.

Tiger Brands said it expects difficult trading conditions to continue in the second quarter of its financial year (January-March), as volume and pricing pressures within grains persist, whilst indications are that the quarter will be challenging for groceries. – Nampa/Reuters

‘BP didn’t ask to sell its In Amenas gas stake’

BP has written to Algeria to express its interest in investing in its oil sector and has not made any request to sell its shares in the In Amenas gas plant, state news agency APS quoted energy minister Mohamed Arkab as saying on Wednesday.

Reuters last week reported three industry sources as saying that BP Plc was seeking buyers for its stake in the gas plant, deep in the Sahara desert, after recent talks on a sale to Russian oil giant Rosneft failed.

"BP did not send any request to sell its shares in Tiguentourine's plant in Amenas," APS reported Arkab as saying in the first official comment on the report in Algeria.

Algeria relies on energy export revenue for a large chunk of its state budget and foreign currency earnings, but production and sales have been falling for several years. – Nampa/Reuters

Nestle bets on shark tank, startups

Food giant Nestle has set up new structures to turn innovative ideas from outside and inside the company into new products, its technology head told journalists on Wednesday ahead of the publication of the group's full-year results.

Employees, often from Nestle's research teams, can apply for funding to develop products via the company's internal ideas factory or "shark tank", while startups or students can work with Nestle scientists and resources, including lab space, at so-called "accelerators".

Nestle and its packaged food peers have come under pressure to speed up innovation from a flurry of small local rivals that win over health and eco-conscious consumers with trendy foods and drinks, from cold-brew coffee to plant-based burgers.

Chief executive Mark Schneider said: "We're inaugurating three accelerators this year, one in each geographical zone, and are working on two others as well.

"We already launched 10 products in this way. In 12 months, we want to see a launch, that's the only condition," Palzer said, adding Nestle's plant-based burgers and Roastelier coffee-roaster had been fast-tracked in this way. – Nampa/Reuters

WhatsApp users cross 2 billion

Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp said on Wednesday it has amassed 2 billion users, becoming the second social media platform in the world to hit that milestone.

WhatsApp did not specify how it calculated the number of users, but said it had 500 million users in 2014, when Facebook Inc bought the mobile-messaging startup for US$19 billion to boost its popularity, especially among a younger crowd.

Facebook has been trying to boost revenue from its high-growth units such as photo sharing platform Instagram and WhatsApp. It has been building out WhatsApp's e-commerce tools, as it moves toward monetising the app.

Facebook had about 2.5 billion monthly active users as of Dec. 31, the company said. – Nampa/Reuters