Imperial profit falls on slow down

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Johannesburg - Imperial Holdings, owner of South Africa’s biggest car-dealership network, said full-year profit declined 10 percent as the South African economy slowed and the rand weakened.

Earnings per share, excluding one-time items, fell to 16.25 rand in the year ending June 30 from 18.05 rand a year earlier, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement today.

Sales increased 12 percent to 103.6 billion rand.

“The short-term outlook is daunting” the company said.

“We expect earnings in the first half of the 2015 financial year to decline on the prior period as the currency impact on the vehicle import, distribution and dealership division flows through.”

Africa’s second-biggest economy is forecast to expand 1.8 percent this year, the slowest since 2009, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said in a August 24 interview.

Vehicle sales will probably drop 4.6% in 2014 to 621,000 units, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa said August 19.

South Africa is Imperial’s largest market, accounting for about 66 percent of sales.

Imperial is also battling a weaker rand as imports of vehicles from Asia are dollar-denominated.

The currency was little changed at 10.6749 against the dollar by 7:50 a.m. in Johannesburg, after a 19 percent slump in 2013.

The company appointed Massmart founder Mark Lamberti as the new chief executive officer starting March 1, succeeding Hubert Brody.

Imperial shares have fallen 3.7 percent this year, giving the company a market value of about 40.6 billion rand. - Bloomberg News

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