Company news in brief

31 January 2020 | Business

Massmart forecasts annual loss

South Africa's Massmart Holdings yesterday forecast a loss for the full-year as it battled tough trading conditions in the second half and said it will reorganise four of its businesses into two divisions.

Massmart, majority owned by US retail giant Walmart , expects to report headline loss per share, excluding the impact of adopting accounting standard IFRS 16, between 342.9 cents and 384.5 cents for the year ended Dec. 29. It reported annual headline earnings per share of 416.5 cents last year. Headline

Massmart said it would simplify its operations by reorganising its wholesale, warehouse, hardware and discount store businesses into two divisions, wholesale and retail.

The company's total sales rose 3% to R93.7 billion in the 52-week period ended Dec. 29, helped by growth outside South Africa as the continent's most advanced economy shrank for the second time in three quarters last year.

Massmart also expects to take an impairment charge between R200 million and R250 million before tax.

The company said earlier this month that it could cut up to 1 440 jobs under a plan to close some stores as it struggles to grow sales. – Nampa/Reuters

Shell Q4 profits halve on weak oil, gas prices

Royal Dutch Shell's profit in the fourth quarter of 2019 fell by nearly 50% to US$2.9 billion, missing forecasts and falling to its lowest in more than three years on weaker oil and gas prices.

CEO Ben van Beurden said the company's intention to complete its US$25 billion share buyback programme in 2020 remained "unchanged".

The 48% drop in net income attributable to shareholders, based on a current cost of supplies (CCS) and excluding identified items, compared with a profit forecast of US$3.2 billion, a company-provided survey of analysts showed.

Shell's third quarter profits were US$4.8 billion.

For 2019, Shell's profit was US$16.5 billion, down 23%. – Nampa/Reuters

Boeing swings to annual loss

Boeing Co on Wednesday swung to its first annual loss since 1997 on mounting 737 MAX costs and indicated it would again cut production of its bigger 787 Dreamliner aircraft, currently its main source of cash.

Costs related to the global grounding of Boeing's once fast-selling 737 MAX reached US$14.6 billion in 2019 and the planemaker warned of another US$4 billion in charges in 2020 due to the expense of freezing and slowly restarting the jets' production.

Boeing, facing the biggest crisis in its history, had previously estimated an around US$8 billion price tag for the MAX fallout.

The aircraft was grounded in March after two crashes that killed 346 people. Boeing has since frozen production of the aircraft as deliveries, the moment when the planemaker receives most of its cash, remain halted.

"We recognise we have a lot of work to do," Boeing president and CEO David Calhoun said in a statement. His predecessor, Dennis Muilenburg, was ousted last year. – Nampa/Reuters

BBC to axe newsroom jobs in cost-cutting drive

The BBC said on Wednesday it will axe 450 jobs from its news division in a cost-saving plan that will result in cuts at the World Service and its 5Live radio station and in fewer reports being made by analysis show Newsnight.

The corporation said it would reorganise its newsroom along a "story-led" model where staff will be assigned to stories and not attached to individual programmes.

BBC News said it currently employs around 6 000 people, including 1 700 outside the UK, but declined to specify how many are journalists.

"We need to reshape BBC News for the next decade in a way which saves substantial amounts of money," said Fran Unsworth, director of news and current affairs.

The BBC said the cuts, along with others already implemented, would enable it to meet an 80 million pound (US$105 million) savings target by 2022. – Nampa/Reuters

Goldman unveils long-term targets

Goldman Sachs Group Inc on Wednesday set aggressive targets to grow many of its businesses, as the Wall Street powerhouse tries to make meaningful inroads in areas dominated by larger rivals JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America.

By setting broad targets and being more transparent, Goldman is making a concerted effort to address grievances of investors who have long complained about the lack of information.

At its first ever investor day presentation, Goldman said it now plans to grow deposit balances at its consumer bank to US$125 billion or more over the next five years. Goldman also said it plans to increase consumer loans and card balances to more than US$20 billion during the same period.

Goldman also plans to pull in US$1 billion in revenue through lower interest expenses, according to its presentation.

"Patient, methodical, long term approach" is how Goldman Sachs chief operating officer and president John Waldron described the bank's targets. – Nampa/Reuters

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