Johannesburg - Sasol [JSE:SOL], the world's largest fuel from coal producer, on Monday reported a 51% drop in first-half headline earnings, hit by lower crude oil and petroleum products prices, and said it was cautious about the full year.
The South African petrochemicals company said headline earnings per share for the six months to end-December fell 51% to %10.67 rand, compared with its own forecast a 50%-55% fall.
Headline earnings are the main profit gauge in South Africa and strip out certain one-off, financial and non-trading items.
"We are anticipating some improvement in overall production volumes for the full year," the company said in a statement but added that the strong rand against the US dollar would continue to pressure its earnings.
The South African currency has risen around 20% versus the greenback since the start of 2009.
"Taking into account... the continuing challenging economic conditions and our assumptions in respect of crude oil and product prices, tight refining margins as well as the stronger rand/US dollar exchange rate, we remain cautious in our outlook for the full year compared with 2009," it said.
Sasol declared an interim dividend of R2.80 rand per share, up 12% on the comparable period.