South Africa’s Sasol chemical cluster H1 2012 op profit up 25.7%

12 March 2012 07:11  [Source: ICIS news]

SasolSINGAPORE (ICIS)--South Africa’s Sasol said on Monday its chemical cluster’s operating profit for the first half of 2012 financial year surged 25.7% year on year to rand (R) 4.34bn ($573m) boosted by strong performance from its solvents business unit.

The chemical cluster’s turnover for the July-December period grew by 19% year on year to R47.2bn, the Johannesburg-based energy and petrochemical major said in a statement.

Within the cluster, the olefins and surfactants business posted a 3.8% growth in its operating profit to R1.66bn, while the operating profit at its solvents business more than doubled to R1.12bn from R440m, compared to the same period a year earlier.

The increase in operating profit from its solvents business was primarily due to higher prevailing product prices, despite lower sales volumes, it said.

“The increased operating profit was assisted by a weaker rand/US dollar exchange rate, which negated deteriorating market conditions over the period,” Sasol added.

However, the polymers division’s operating profit fell by 4.9% year on year to R546m on a 6% decrease in production volumes from its local operations.

“Our local operations experienced a significant margin squeeze due to increased feedstock costs as a result of the increase in average crude oil prices,” Sasol said.

Other businesses within the chemicals cluster, meanwhile, saw their profit rise by 21.3% year on year to R1.02bn, it said.

Overall, the Sasol group posted an 82.8% hike in its net profit for the six months period ending December 2011 to R13.9bn, while the firm’s turnover rose by 23.9% to R83.3bn, it added.

“In view of recent developments regarding trade restrictions and possible oil sanctions against Iran, Sasol Oil is diversifying its crude oil sourcing, to mitigate risks associated with oil supply disruptions from the Middle East,” it said.

Looking ahead, the company expects to benefit from the favourable rand commodity prices and to deliver increased earnings for the 2012 financial year, it added.  

($1 = R7.57)

By: Samuel Wong

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