Bell, which declared a 20 cents a share interim dividend, similar to that of the last financial year, said profit rose 14 percent to R152.3 million. File Photo: IOL

JOHANNESBURG – JSE-listed manufacturer Bell Equipment reported an 8 percent revenue increase to R4.04 billion in the year to June, thanks to its diversified geographical footprint and despite a sluggish South African economy. 

Bell, which declared a 20 cents a share interim dividend, similar to that of the last financial year, said profit rose 14 percent to R152.3 million. 

Leon Goosen, chief executive of Bell, said South Africa remained a primary market for the group, where the full product and service line was positioned for eventual market recovery. 

The group attributed the growth to its occupying a strong and diversified position globally, which helped in countering the more difficult operating geographies. “During the period under review the South African economy remained weak and we saw trading conditions deteriorate further on the back of prolonged economic uncertainty and a lack of much anticipated economic stimulus. 

“We acknowledge the current volatility around the global and local economy and the impact this can have on commodities and understand the knock-on effect on our business,” Goosen said.

Headline earnings per share improved by 25 percent to 164c per share. Cash generated from operations increased to R203m from R135.2m the previous year. Goosen said the group experienced modest growth in revenue in markets other than South Africa. 

“However, global demand was not as strong as anticipated,” Goosen explained, which he said led to higher than planned inventory and debt levels as well as an increase in financing costs. Production volumes have been decreased in line with expected demand. 

Goosen said that while the South American market was a small market currently, the group was expanding its footprint in terms of trucks, forestry and sugar handling equipment. 

The group benefited from southern Africa Bell’s partnerships with other global original equipment manufacturers, which it said positioned it well  as a full range material handling supplier for when the market recovers.

In Africa the Bell African dealer network experienced stronger sales, particularly in Botswana and Tanzania. 

Bell Equipment shares closed unchanged at R10 on the JSE on Monday.

BUSINESS REPORT