We have extracted below the Chairman’s Statement from the 2018 annual report of Press Corporation Limited (PCL.zm), listed on the Lusaka Securities Exchange:

Press Corporation Limited 2018 annual report

THE GENERAL OPERATING ENVIRONMENT

Key macroeconomic indicators were relatively stable in 2018. Average inflation rate was 9.2% per annum compared to 11.6% in prior year. The Policy Rate remained at 16% throughout the year.  The value of the Malawi Kwacha remained stable against major currencies. The stability was underpinned by foreign exchange reserves of US$1.08 billion as at end December 2018 representing 5.19 months’ worth of import cover, a position that held throughout the reporting period.

The Malawi stock market was buoyant for the second consecutive year as it registered a positive return on index of 33.42% (US$ terms) compared to 62.09% in 2017. Market liquidity improved both in total traded value and volume compared to the corresponding period of 2017. Listed companies within the Group registered significant positive movements with trading gains in PCL (90%), TNM (93%) and NBM (23%). For the first time in the past five years, the PCL share price registered a significant share price increase, moving from MK600 in January to closing at MK1,140 in December, 2018. This reflects growing investor confidence in the strategic direction of the Group.

Power challenges continued impacting on the cost of production and service delivery for most of the Group entities due to over-dependence on diesel generators. However the power situation improved in the 4th quarter with the onset of the rains and completion of the rehabilitation works on some hydro power stations under the Millennium Challenge Compact project funded by the United States Government.

Like many companies, the highlighted factors have shaped the operating landscape of Group Companies in one way or the other. Management’s task has been to ensure that Group Companies are prepared for all risks while at the same time taking advantage of opportunities availed by such an operating environment.

GROUP PERFORMANCE

Notwithstanding the challenging