Johannesburg - South African petrochemicals group Sasol
[JSE:SOL] on Monday reported an 81% rise in first-half profit, boosted by higher
oil and product prices and a weaker rand and said it was on track to deliver
higher earnings for the full year.
Sasol, the world’s top maker of motor fuel from coal, said
headline earnings per share for the six months to end-December jumped 81% to
R23.50, at the bottom of a range of an 80% - 90% increase given in early
“We have maintained a resilient production performance
despite challenges,” CEO David Constable said in a statement.
The average crude oil price was at $111.41 a barrel at
end-December, compared with $81.68 a year earlier.
The rand/dollar exchange rate was 7% weaker than the
A stronger rand is a negative for South African exporters as
it eats into profits when overseas earnings are brought home. The currency has
weakened 14% against the dollar since the start of 2011.
“Our resilient operations will enable us to benefit from the
favourable rand commodity prices and therefore we are well positioned to
deliver increased earnings for the 2012 financial year,” it said.
“Crude oil prices have been increasing steadily supported by
recent developments in supply and geopolitics in the Middle East/North Africa,”
it said, but warned that the rand-dollar exchange rate remained the single
biggest external factor impacting its profitability.
The company said Sasol Synfuels’ production for the full
year was expected at between 7.0-7.2 million tonnes.
The forecast was revised down in November from an estimate
of between 7.2-7.3 million due to a strike and other incidents which hit
Under new leadership since July, Sasol is investing heavily
to further diversify its operations into chemicals, gas and clean energy
projects, and to reduce its heavy carbon footprint.
"The macroeconomic trends, the global need for energy
diversification and energy security are all supportive of our gas-to-liquids
value proposition," Constable said.
The company declared an interim dividend of R5.70, up 84% on
the comparison period.
Shares in the company are up 1.9% in the year to date,
compared with a 5.7% rise in the JSE Top 40 - (Tradeable) [JSE:J200] blue-chip