Company news in brief

19 August 2019 | Business

Sasol delays results due to project glitch

South Africa's Sasol Ltd delayed the release of its annual financial results on Friday due to possible "control weaknesses" at its US ethane cracker project, sending shares in the chemicals and energy company down by more than 15%.

Sasol said its auditors would need to consider an independent report the board had commissioned into its Lake Charles Chemicals Project (LCCP) and therefore expected to announce fiscal 2019 results on 19 September instead of 19 August.

"Management and the board will assess such control weaknesses and identify whether any further remedial actions are required," the firm said in a statement, without providing further detail.

The firm raised expected costs in May by around US$1 billion following a review by the project's new management that revealed oversights such as duplicate credits and overlooked contracts, adjustments for potential insurance claims, procurement back-charges and remaining work and repairs.

The company said it still expected cost guidance for LCCP to between US$12.6 billion and US$12.9 billion but that it now expected full production at the project to be delayed to around 26 August from the previous guidance of end of July after a technical challenge relating to a large heat exchanger.

The project in Louisiana, which will convert natural gas into plastics ingredient ethylene, was initially expected to cost US$8.9 billion and has seen delays and hikes in costs. – Nampa/Reuters

Implats expects profit helped by metals prices

South Africa's Impala Platinum (Implats) said on Thursday it expects to swing into profit this year boosted by higher sales, rhodium and palladium prices and improved performance at its Rustenburg operations.

It expects headline earnings per share (HEPS) of 406 to 440 cents for the year which ended June 30 versus a loss of 171 cents a year earlier, it said in a trading statement.

HEPS strips out certain one-off items and is the main profit measure in South Africa.

Implats said gross profit is expected to rise to R6.8 billion from a restated figure of R1.1 billion a year earlier.

Implats will release its annual results on 5 September. – Nampa/Reuters

Truworths looks to close loss-making stores

South Africa's Truworths International Ltd is considering closing loss-making stores of its UK-based shoe chain Office, joining the growing ranks of retailers to be hit by Britain's gloomy trading environment.

Office is battling tough conditions in Britain due to uncertainty over Brexit, plus pressures on store-based retailers as shoppers move online.

This resulted in the South African-listed clothing, shoes, jewellery and homeware retailer booking a non-cash impairment charge of 97 million pounds (US$117.44 million) against Office's assets.

The writedown saw Truworths profit before tax for the full-year ended June 30 falling 57.5% to R1.56 billion (US$102.30 million) from R3.69 billion.

As of 1 July 2018, Office had 156 stores and concessions in the UK, Germany and the Republic of Ireland. In the year to end-June 2019 it closed 17 stores, of which 16 were concession stores across House of Fraser and Topshop/Topman. – Nampa/Reuters

Apple supports 2.4 million US jobs

Apple Inc said it was either directly or indirectly responsible for 2.4 million US jobs, up 20% from the 2 million the technology company estimated in 2017.

The iPhone maker said its direct workforce grew from 80 000 to 90 000 in the 2-1/2 years since its last US job estimate. But most of the estimated growth came from companies such as Broadcom Inc which make parts in the United States for Apple products and from third-party software developers making apps for Apple devices.

App-related jobs totaled 1.9 million, up by 325 000 from its previous estimate, the Cupertino, California-based company said in a news post on its website.

Apple did not say how it arrived at its estimates or how the research was funded. Estimates of indirect job creation can vary widely depending on how the analysis is carried out.

Apple has faced criticism, including from US president Donald Trump, for contracting factories to assemble most of its products in China. Apple has countered that it spent US$60 billion on products and services from US-based suppliers in 2018 and plans to increase that to US$350 billion by 2023. - Nampa/Reuters

Revlon to explore strategic options

Cosmetics maker Revlon Inc has tapped Goldman Sachs Group Inc to explore options for its business, Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Revlon, backed by billionaire Ron Perelman, has been struggling to grow sales in a competitive market that houses several upstarts and bigger companies such as L'Oreal and Estee Lauder.

Revlon is exploring all options, including a sale of parts or all of the business, the Bloomberg report said, adding that no deals have been reached at this time.

The company, now headed by Ron Perelman's daughter Debra, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. – Nampa/Reuters

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