JOHANNESBURG - Listed integrated logistics solution provider Santova grew its headline earnings a share 2.1percent to 21.13cents in the six months to August from 20.69c in the previous corresponding period. 

Santova chief executive Glen Gerber said yesterday the growth was achieved despite a decrease in total group billings by 1percent to R1.953billion from R1.973bn last year. 

Gerber said the decline in group billings reflected the difficult economic environment in the South African region, which was the group’s major contributor to overall billings. He said the local economic conditions had a negative impact on trade volumes, which was further exacerbated by a 2.1percent strengthening of the US dollar to the rand over the reporting period. 

Gerber said the positive growth in billings was achieved through several factors, including a 0.3percent growth in group revenue to billings margin to 8.3percent from 8percent, the growth in administrative expenses being contained to 3.7percent, a 41percent decrease in finance costs, as the group repaid one of its two medium-term loans in January, and a 0.5percent decrease in the group’s effective tax rate to 23.8percent. 

He said the outlook remained uncertain for the second half of the financial year, particularly in South Africa, but the group was entering its annual peak trading cycle and Santova’s board was optimistic the group’s geographic, business activity and currency diversification would help to provide a solid platform for future growth.