PPC Ltd’s Remarkable Recovery: Revenue Surges 20.9%, EBITDA Soars 46.8% – Cementing a Strong Financial Comeback

  • Revenue surged by 20.9%, reaching R6,172 million, driven by increased cement volumes, price hikes, and rand depreciation.
  • EBITDA margins improved by 3%, resulting in a 46.8% surge in EBITDA to R1,069 million.
  • Despite challenges, operating profit saw a significant increase to R675 million.
By Lethabo Ntsoane

PPC Ltd, the South African cement giant, has reported encouraging results for the six months ending September 30, 2023. The company, despite facing headwinds in its core markets, showcased a robust recovery, marked by increased revenue, improved EBITDA margins, and a return to profitability.

CEO Perspective

Roland van Wijnen, PPC’s CEO, expressed optimism about the company’s performance during the review period. He highlighted the positive trend in profitability across core southern African markets, overcoming challenges such as a weak macro environment and declining cement volumes in South Africa. Van Wijnen emphasized the importance of increased demand to optimize the capacity available in the primary market and provided insights into strategic moves, including the agreement to dispose of PPC’s 51% stake in CIMERWA (Rwanda) and share repurchases.

Financial Snapshot

Consolidated Group Performance:

MetricH1 FY23H1 FY23
Revenue (R million)6,1725,103
EBITDA Margin17.3%14.3%
EBITDA (R million)1,069728
HEPS (cents)26(5)
EPS (cents)24(3)

The consolidated group’s revenue increased by 20.9%, reaching R6,172 million, driven by a 4% increase in group cement volumes, price hikes, and the rand depreciation against the US dollar. EBITDA margins improved by 3%, resulting in a 46.8% surge in EBITDA to R1,069 million.

Individual Businesses:

SA and Botswana Group:

  • Resilient performance with a 2.0% increase in revenue to R3,546 million.
  • SA and Botswana cement EBITDA margins improved to 12.6%.
  • Net debt reduced by R195 million to R730 million.

PPC Zimbabwe:

  • Strong recovery with a 104% increase in revenue to R1,743 million.
  • EBITDA margins rose to 24.6%.
  • Declared dividends of US$4.0 million, with an additional US$7 million declared in November 2023.

CIMERWA (Rwanda):

  • Revenue increased by 14.5% to R883 million.
  • EBITDA margins decreased to 29.4%.

Group Performance – Continuing Operations

PPC’s overall performance for the period reflected a positive trend, with group revenue increasing by 20.9% to R6,172 million. Despite challenges in the core South African and Botswana group, there was a decline in cement volumes, offset by price increases and rand depreciation.

Group cost of sales increased at a lower rate than revenue, leading to a significant increase in operating profit to R675 million. Group EBITDA surged by 46.8% to R1,069 million, with margins expanding in all markets except Rwanda. Key factors contributing to this growth included a recovery of market share in Zimbabwe and a return to profitability by the overall materials business.

Financial Details

  • Fair value and foreign exchange gains decreased due to the adoption of the US dollar as the functional currency for PPC Zimbabwe.
  • Impairment of R53 million related to property, plant, and equipment in the current period.
  • Finance costs marginally decreased to R81 million.
  • Investment income increased to R15 million.
  • R23 million profit realized on the disposal of an equity-accounted investment in the prior period.

Profit and Tax:

  • Profit before tax increased to R560 million.
  • Profit after tax was R431 million.
  • Effective tax rate for the current period is 23.0%.

Earnings and Cash Flow:

  • Earnings per share (EPS) and headline earnings per share (HEPS) increased to 24 cents and 26 cents, respectively.
  • Net cash flow before financing activities increased to R578 million.

Operational Highlights by Business Segment

South Africa and Botswana Cement:

Despite a 4.7% decrease in overall cement sales volumes, PPC South Africa and Botswana displayed resilience. Retail performance in the inland region improved, but weaker coastal demand and delays in larger construction projects impacted sales. The average selling price increased by 8.8%, contributing to a 4.7% growth in revenue to R3,158 million. EBITDA increased by 8.2% to R398 million, with margins stabilizing at 12.6%.

Aggregates, Readymix, and Ash:

  • Readymix volumes decreased by 19.7%.
  • Aggregates volumes decreased by 16.8%.
  • Divisional EBITDA turned to a profit of R14 million.

International Operations:

PPC Zimbabwe:

  • Strong recovery with a 44.0% increase in cement sales volumes.
  • Revenue increased by 104% to R1,743 million.
  • EBITDA increased by 190% to R429 million.

CIMERWA (Rwanda):

  • Cement sales volumes increased by 11.9%.
  • Revenue increased by 14.5% to R883 million.
  • EBITDA margins decreased to 29.4%.

Leadership Changes and Outlook

  • Matias Cardarelli announced as the incoming CEO, with progress on the work permit.
  • Njombo Lekula, current MD of South Africa and Botswana, to leave after three decades.
  • Outlook emphasizes a focus on southern Africa, with a need for increased infrastructure spending to boost cement demand in South Africa.

Conclusion

PPC Ltd’s six-month results underscore a remarkable recovery, with positive trends across key financial indicators. The strategic moves, strong operational performance in Zimbabwe, and leadership changes position PPC for future growth. The company’s focus on southern Africa and disciplined capital allocation aligns with its commitment to sustained profitability.

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Lethabo Ntsoane

Lethabo Ntsoane holds a Bachelors Degree in Accounting from the University of South Africa. He is a Financial Product commentator at Rateweb. He is an expect financial product analyst with years of experience in reviewing products and offering commentary. Lethabo majors in financial news, reviews and financial tips. He can be contacted: Email: lethabo@rateweb.co.za Twitter: @NtsoaneLethabo