Ariston Holdings ( Zimbabwe) – HY2022 PAT up 111% to ZWL103 million

By Published On: June 17th, 2022Categories: Corporate announcement, Earnings
Ariston Holdings Limited 2022 Interim Results For The Half Year

Ariston Holdings Limited (ARIS.zw) HY2022 Interim Report

CHAIRMAN’S STATEMENT

OPERATING ENVIRONMENT & OVERVIEW

The general macro-economic environment saw a resurgence in inflation levels and renewed exchange rate volatility. The Group remains hopeful that progressive and consistent policies will be employed to eliminate the current market disparities which have the effect of adversely affecting exporting companies the most. The trading environment has deteriorated in the current period to 31 March 2022. Disposable incomes continued to be eroded.

The agricultural season was characterised by late rains which only commenced in earnest in December 2021. Thereafter the rains were erratic and in total all Estates received less rain in this period than in the prior year’s comparative period. However, whilst the rains were late, the weather conditions were cooler than in the prior comparative period. The cooler temperatures resulted in a positive impact on quality of teas and better nut-set in macadamia. Accordingly, production volumes and quality showed an improvement in the period under review.

Crops under irrigation at Kent were unaffected by the late rains. Dryland planting at Kent Estate could only be completed in late December 2021 as a result of lower and delayed rainfall in current period.

During the period a number of projects were completed using some of the proceeds from the partial disposal of Claremont Orchards Holdings. The projects included the expansion of macadamia orchards and the macadamia drying facility, additional tea making equipment so as to increase the local tea production capacity, and installation of various equipment designed to automate some of the in-field production processes so as to release labour to harvesting processes. These were successful and have enabled the Group to harvest greater volumes of tea in the current year than historically as the Group continues in its focus to counteract the effects of shortage of labour in Chipinge and Chimanimani.

FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE (on inflation adjusted terms)

During the 1st quarter of the year, the Group received proceeds from the disposal of 50% of its shareholding in Claremont Orchards Holdings (Private) Limited to Tuinbouw Zonder Grenzen BV (TZG). As a consequence of this transaction, the fruit category is not included in the Group’s revenue for the current period. This, coupled with decline in tea sales has resulted in a 14% decline in revenue for the half year ended 31 March 2022 compared to prior period. The widening of the exchange rate gap between the interbank auction rate at which the Group’s export revenue was retained and the parallel exchange rate that suppliers are charging for locally purchased goods continued to put substantial pressure on costs due to mismatch in the two rates. This resulted in a 57% increase in cost of sales.

Gross profit margin declined to 34% compared to 63% in the prior comparative period.

Loss from operations was 22% of revenue compared to a profit from operations at 19% of revenue in the prior comparative period.

The Group realised an inflation adjusted profit before interest and tax of ZWL94 million, compared to ZWL204 million in the prior comparative period. This was after taking into account fair value adjustments, exchange differences, share of profit from investments in joint ventures and the monetary loss. Inflation adjusted interest expense declined by 1% to ZWL21.5 million in the current reporting period. Overall the Group posted an inflation adjusted profit after tax of ZWL103 million, which is a 111% improvement on prior comparative period’s ZWL49 million.

VOLUMES AND OPERATIONS

Tea

Production volumes had a marginal increase of 0.2% at 2,028 tonnes compared to 2,023 tonnes in the prior comparative period. Export tea sales volumes suffered a 22% decline to 511 tonnes, while average selling price improved by 8% against prior period. There was a slow uptake of export teas in the first quarter of the year due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on shipping logistics and costs. However, demand started improving in early March 2022.

Local tea sales volumes declined by 10% to 735 tonnes whilst the Local tea average selling price increased by 21%.

Macadamia

36% of the projected annual crop had been produced as at end of current half-year, compared to 32% in prior period. As at half year, macadamia production volumes were 4% above the prior comparative period. Export sales volumes were 47% ahead of the prior comparative period due to sale of some prior year macadamia stocks at the start of the current year. This resulted in the reflected sales volume increase compared to prior comparative period.

Pricing reflected a 16% decline against the same period in prior comparative period. The macadamia kernel prices have not changed much. However, the macadamia nut-in-shell prices have been under pressure due to the effects of COVID-19 induced lockdowns in China. This could be a temporary feature which may reverse once China is back to full production, however until then, we have witnessed a contraction in macadamia nut shell prices.

Other products

Other products comprise potatoes, soya beans, seed maize, commercial maize, seed sugar beans, avocado, bananas and poultry. These contributed 27% of revenue compared to 17% in prior period showing that this category continues to grow and contribute positively to the Group’s profitability.

INVESTMENTS

The Group holds investments in joint ventures which make up 9% of the Group’s total assets. The joint ventures consisting of Claremont PowerStation, Mombe Shoma Cattle ranching and Claremont Orchards Holdings Limited have continued to contribute positively to the Group’s performance.

OUTLOOK

The Group’s activities are cyclical in nature with the majority of harvesting and selling operations occurring in the second half of the year.

However, to date, indications are that the Group will have higher yields than prior year, a softening in the export price of macadamia nuts but improvement in export tea price. The continued effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on global supply chain coupled with the effect of the war between Russia and Ukraine will have a negative impact on the speed and cost of logistics resulting in increased input costs. So far, the Group has noted the significant increase in cost of fertiliser which is the Group’s most significant single cost. The environment continues to be challenging but the Group believes that it is well positioned to continue improving its performance.

DIVIDEND

In view of the need to enhance assets and the need to preserve cash resources, the Board has seen it prudent not to declare a dividend.

DIRECTORATE

There have been no changes in the directorate in the period under review.

APPRECIATION

I would like to extend my appreciation to all our customers, suppliers, staff, shareholders, strategic partners and my fellow Board directors for the continued