A synopsis of four African Markets

ALTX-listed distributor of tower cranes SA French’s profit fell in the year to June, knocked down by costs of expansion and acquisitions of additional units to meet an upsurge in demand in the rental market.

Quentin van BredaThe costs were associated with new branches opened early this year in Cape Town and Durban as well as finance charges linked to the acquisition of additional units for the rental market.

Net profit fell to R6,9m compared with R12,7m in the previous year and headline earnings per share dropped to 4,68c from 10,12c. Revenue increased 25,7% to R152m from R121m while operating profit declined 36,8% to R12,9m.

The company’s gross profit margin decreased 2,7% from 25,2% to 22,5%, which it said was largely because of currency volatility.

CEO Quentin van Breda said the results were “satisfactory” despite “challenging” market conditions.

He the said opening of new branches and the acquisition of the new fleet was a capital intensive exercise that required a substantial investment on the company's part.

While developing infrastructure was costly and the initial costs were in most cases once off, management felt strongly that it was necessary to establish a national presence.

Van Breda said most of the expenses were budgeted for and SA French expected the investment to pay dividends in both the short and long term. “It is, however, undoubtedly the correct route to follow and as an emerging business model it will certainly generate substantial future cash flows,” he said.

“Despite challenging market conditions we have delivered satisfactory maiden results. We can now boast the biggest and most comprehensive tower crane rental fleet in Africa. The benefits and annuity income generated by a new fleet of tower cranes with an average lifespan of 20 years are undeniable.”

The company had to acquire new rental units after a spike in demand for crane rentals as a result of the uncertainty caused by the electricity shortages, the company said.

The electricity supply crisis earlier this year caused uncertainty for many of its key clients in the construction industry. This resulted in delays in the awarding of several infrastructure projects and construction companies responded by restricting or delaying capital expenditure decisions such as the purchase of tower cranes, it said.

“This change in market dynamic resulted in a change of focus in SA French’s business. The group has experienced an increase in demand for crane rentals as many of its clients were seeking to keep costs variable until there was certainty on power supply,” SA French said.


Thursday, 22 May 2008 02:00

Esor thrives on building boom

Geotechnical engineering specialist Esor on Wednesday reported a threefold increase in revenue to R1bn for the year to February as it benefited from commercial and government infrastructure spend and a building upsurge in Angola and Mauritius.

Construction IndustryCEO Bernie Krone said today’s buoyant construction market was the primary driver for the group’s organic growth.

“The Gautrain continues to be a major contributor. We have R400m worth of work for the high- speed train which will be world class, with 14 months’ worth of work,” Krone said.

Of the R420m worth of projects secured, R170m was completed during the year.

“The Gautrain … is stimulating major development within the radius of its stations’ use areas, which will dramatically alter the urban landscape and further boost the construction industry beyond 2010.” The many new developments in the pipeline included high-rise offices, hotels and retail and commercial building projects.

The group has completed piling projects for Airports Company SA at the new King Shaka and Cape Town International Airports and contracts for piling, pedestrian culvert jacking and lateral support at OR Tambo International Airport.

Work on stadiums for the 2010 World Cup has been completed at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town, Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban and Port Elizabeth Stadium.

Profit came in at R116m from R34m a year before.

Headline earnings per share jumped 240% to R115m, equating to 51,3c per share while net asset value per share increased 46% from 109,8c per share to 160,3c.

The group declared a final dividend of 20c per share for the year for a total of R49,6m.

Krone said the group was entrenching its presence in Africa, building on subsidiary Franki’s foothold in oil-rich Angola. Contracts for piling, lateral support and marine works projects were completed during the year.

Stringent cost control kept operating margins steady despite the negative effect on the group of unusually abundant December rains.

“We did see a slight decrease in margins in the final quarter of the year since excessive rain in Gauteng slowed down projects before and after our year-end break.

“However, a stricter focus on operational efficiencies and aggressive investment in plant helped keep margins on a par with last year,” Krone said.

Esor invested R147,5m in new equipment during the year.

Krone said the current year would be an acquisitive one, but the group would look only at companies that made good business sense and in the geotechnical engineering sector.


International Housing Solutions (IHS), an international joint venture between MuniMae of the US and top Irish property group Howard Eurocape, has launched its operations on the African continent for the first time, opening its head office for Africa in Rosebank, Johannesburg, in January.

Friday, 21 January 2005 02:00

Murray & Roberts keeps high credit rating

Global Credit Rating Co has maintained Murray & Roberts Holdings Limited's short and long term domestic ZAR currency rating of A+ and A1 respectively

Thursday, 23 September 2004 02:00

Strong rand batters construction heavyweigths

WBHO and Group Five emerge as star performers, but bigger companies take a hit from dodgy contracts in Africa.

Thursday, 19 August 2004 02:00

Group Five gets a lift from property boom

The strong property market boosted construction and engineering company Group Five's building and manufacturing activities

Tuesday, 16 March 2004 02:00

Shops For Africa sold to ApexHi


Pretoria - Unit holders in Shops For Africa, the listed property loan stock company, have approved the sale of the company's entire property portfolio to listed property company ApexHi for R415.3 million.


The managers of the property portfolio of Shops For Africa, the listed property loan stock company that proposes to sell its entire property portfolio to rival ApexHi for R415.3 million, yesterday denied claims the amount being withheld to cover costs was too high.

The property loan stock company continues to provide investors with a sustainable income through its innovative unit structure, limited gearing and a strategy to maximise value in secondary located properties with sound tenant profiles

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