Sasol profits tank as SOE failures take their toll

 ·26 Feb 2024

Sasol has recorded declining earnings and profits as domestic and global issues weigh heavily on the company.

In a trading update for the six months ended 31 December 2023 (H1 2024), the group said that the continued volatile macroeconomic environment – including weaker oil and petrochemical prices, unstable product demand and continued inflationary pressure – negatively impacted its performance.

“Despite some operational improvements in South Africa, persistent underperformance of the state-owned enterprises involved in Sasol’s value chain and the weaker global growth outlook continue to impact Sasol’s business performance,” the group said.

The group, which owns the largest singlepoint greenhouse gas emitter in the world in Secunda, saw revenue drop from R149.9 billion in H1 2023 to R136.3 billion, primarily due to lower chemical product prices across all regions.

Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) dropped by 34% from R15.9 billion to R8.3 billion.

“The variance to the prior period is mainly due to lower revenue and lower gains on the valuation of financial instruments and derivative contracts, offset by lower chemical feedstock prices in Europe, Asia and the United States of America (US),” the group said.

The reporting period also featured remeasurement items of R5.8 billion mainly due to:

  • Impairments of the Secunda liquid fuels refinery cash-generating unit (CGU) of R3.9 billion driven by a further deterioration assumed of the macroeconomic outlook, including Brent crude oil and electricity prices, resulting in the full amount of capital expenditure incurred during the period being impaired; and

  • Impairments of the Chemicals Africa Chlor-Alkali & PVC and Polyethylene CGUs of R1.2 billion due to lower selling prices associated with reduced market demand.

The prior period also included an impairment of R6.4 billion, primarily due to the following:

  • The Secunda liquid fuels refinery CGU (R8.1 billion),
  • Chemicals SA Wax CGU (R0.9 billion),
  • China Essential Care Chemicals CGU (R0.9 billion), offset by a reversal of the US Tetramerisation CGU impairment (R3.6 billion).

Overall, headline earnings per share dropped from R30.90 in H1 2023 to R20.37 in H1 2024.

Amid the group’s financial challenges, it cut its interim dividend from R7.00 to R2.00.

Financials H1 2023H1 2024
Basic Earnings Per ShareR23.23R15.19
Headline Earnings Per ShareR30.90 R20.37
DividendR7.00 R2.00

Read: Warning over tax deadlines hitting this week

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