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Durban - Hulamin expected the momentum in the first half of 2017 to continue into the second half. The company on Monday reported an 8percent increase in sales volumes for the six months to end June.

The group said even though the market conditions in South Africa remained depressed, it had managed to improve on last year’s performance. “However, despite the overall manufacturing economy declining, Hulamin increased its local beverage can packaging volumes by 133percent, albeit from a relatively low base in the corresponding period, with a consequent increase in scrap purchases,” the group said.

Hulamin chief executive Richard Jacob said: “Hulamin has delivered a strong manufacturing performance and improved financial results, despite difficult market conditions and the rand being 14percent stronger compared to the corresponding period in 2016.”

Sales volumes increased 8percent and the group improved overall and per unit cost performance, he said.

The group increased its turnover 3percent to R5.1billion, marginally up from R4.9bn, driven by the higher sales volume and an average US dollar aluminium price that was 22percent higher than the comparative period.

Jacob said the increase in these factors more than compensated for the 14percent strengthening of the rand to average R/$ 13.22 against R/$ 15.46 in 2016.

Earnings before interest and taxation were 11percent higher at R286million, while net interest charges decreased 18percent to R39m, driven by lower levels of debt.

Read also: Hulamin grows profit, but recession forces staff cuts

The company said its debt now stood at R656m compared with R952m in June 2016. Basic headline earnings per share were 56cents a share, 16.6percent higher, from 48c the previous period.

During the period the group also saw its Hulamin extrusions performing consistently compared with the prior period. Manufacturing conversion costs in rolled products were 1percent lower in aggregate and 8percent lower on a per unit cost basis, benefiting from lower US dollar denominated costs, improved cost controls and increased usage of compressed natural gas.

The group did not pay a dividend as it pays dividends on an annual basis.