Cape Town Pieces of gut are tied around the farm preventing seaguls from stealing the abalone , at SEKUNJALO AQUA LTURE AQU ACUL TURE (PTY) LTD Atlantic Fishing Enterprises. An aquaculture facility in Gansbaai , Cape Town where abalone is cultivated. Picture : neil baynes

Nompumelelo Magwaza

Improved efficiencies in the fishing and information technology (IT) divisions of Sekunjalo Investments had helped lift interim profit and contributed to revenue, chief executive Khalid Abdulla said yesterday.

The JSE-listed group said it was “pleased” with its performance in the six months to February and applauded its past implemented strategies.

Sekunjalo lifted revenue by 7 percent to R242 million from R225m in the corresponding period a year earlier. Its gross profit increased by 32 percent, with headline earnings a share increasing by 13 percent year on year to 3.72c.

Pretax profit for the half year increased to R32.7m from R24.2m in the previous period.

Premier Fishing had steadily improved its performance with a major contribution coming from the south coast rock lobster and abalone divisions, the group said.

Sekunjalo’s executive chairman, Dr Iqbal Survé, who is also executive chairman of Independent Newspapers, said he was pleased with the fishing and IT businesses, as well as the investments in Pioneer Foods and the South African arm of BT.

The investment in the listed Pioneer Foods has increased value since its acquisition in March 2012.

He added that this period’s performance had to be applauded because the first half of the year was not as good as the second half due to the seasonal nature of the business, especially in the fishing division.

Abdulla said this business had become more efficient.

“It is a complex business, we have about 15 vessels which we must ensure are maintained, so there is a number of efficiencies involved. But if all these things are managed carefully, catch costs of the fish are reduced.”

Abdulla added that the margins in the IT business were quite good, despite revenue falling.

“We have successfully implemented the national health laboratory contract, which was awarded to us three years ago. The implementation caused the revenue to come down but we have now gone into annuity income.”

The group’s strategy of growing net asset value (NAV) by investing its surplus capital in its underlying businesses was reaping benefits. NAV increased to R496m from R467m a year earlier.

Abdulla said despite South Africa’s muted economic growth performance, Sekunjalo had managed to play in defensive markets which continued to perform.

He said the group would continue to focus on the fishing and IT divisions’ organic growth as well as acquisitions.

“We will continue acquiring small business and re-invest in our operations,” he said.

Sekunjalo’s shares jumped 3.92 percent to close at 53c on the JSE yesterday.