STRATEGIC INVESTMENTS ON TRACK AND PAVING THE WAY FOR ATTRACTIVE RETURNS
Metair, a leading international manufacturer, distributor and retailer of automotive components and energy storage solutions, today announced a robust first half performance for the 2021 financial year owing to successful strategic execution and market recovery from the Covid-19 fallout.
Group revenue increased by 51% to R5.9 billion as operational activities recovered from the impact of the stringent lockdown measures in South Africa, Turkey and Europe in the first half of last year. Group operating profit rose to R545 million from an R18 million loss with the operating margin at 9.2%. The Group achieved EBITDA (including equity earnings but excluding impairments) of R701 million, up from R139 million in the prior comparative period and headline earnings per share of 170 cents, from a loss of 56 cents.
Riaz Haffejee, Metair’s CEO, commented: “Our teams have done an excellent job in executing our Covid-19 response strategy to ensure that our operations recovered to benefit from higher levels of demand, and that we continued to deliver on customer commitments by adapting effective strategies to manage the significant supply chain disruptions experienced during the period. Despite the dynamic and challenging conditions, I am pleased to report that our investment projects remained on track to support our future growth and value creation for stakeholders.”
The Automotive Components Vertical which is directly dependent on South African OEM production was positively impacted by model launches, facelifts and general market recovery, securing a U-shaped recovery. OEM production volumes increased by 54%, buoyed by higher export demand for locally produced vehicles, resulting in an 88% improvement in Group revenue contribution to R3.5 billion. Operating profit improved to R254 million from a R48 million loss. This was achieved despite manufacturing inefficiencies and premium logistics costs brought about by Covid-19-related supply chain disruptions globally, as well as strategic project costs for planned new model launches.
The Energy Storage Vertical achieved a 42% increase in automotive sales volumes to 3 961 000 units supported by continued strong local aftermarket, OEM and export demand experienced across regions. While Rombat and FNB delivered creditable results, the V-shaped recovery was largely driven by improved export volumes from Mutlu Akü which delivered an exceptional performance. The vertical contributed a 32% increase in revenue to R3.3 billion while operating profit rose from R74 million to R328 million.
Cash generated from operations improved by 24% to R273 million with net working capital utilisation higher at R458 million due to increased activity levels as well as management’s efforts to manage supply chain disruptions and availability of raw materials. Cash and cash equivalents ended the period at R1.1 billion. Net debt increased from R805 million to R1.2 billion, however net finance charges decreased 30% to R64 million due to a reduction in interest rates and lower average debt levels for the period. Unutilised and available finance facilities across the Group including foreign currency Rand equivalents totalled R2.4 billion at period end.
To support continued expansion, Metair has successfully negotiated the refinancing of R750 million in revolving credit facilities (“RCF”) maturing in August 2021 and a three-year extension to R840 million in Preference Shares funding maturing in December 2021.
“Cash preservation and liquidity management were carefully balanced during this intensive capital expansion phase and continue to be a key focus. With the successful refinancing and extension of our RCF and preference shares funding, we are in a strong financial position to ramp-up capital investment in the second half which together with increased project costs will have a short-term impact on our margins but deliver substantial longer-term benefits” commented Sjoerd Douwenga, Metair’s CFO.
A total of R1.6 billion in capital expenditure (“capex”) (including Hesto Harnesses) has been approved for the financial year in support of new project launches in Automotive Components and AGM technology in Energy Storage. R392 million was spent in the first half, predominantly on expansion as well as on maintenance and health and safety, improving the group’s competitive position and efficiency. For the second half, capex will be focused on new business expansion for the Automotive Components Vertical in facilities, tooling and machinery.
The Automotive Components Vertical will enter a year of preparation and implementation as new projects are finalised and commissioned. Some of Metair’s subsidiaries enter a pre-production and prototype manufacturing phase for greenfield projects which will result in a slight shift in the normal replacement cycle and increased project costs ahead of model launches.
Metair is supporting its customers in their efforts to catch back lost production due to the civil unrest and widespread looting experienced in parts of South Africa in July and is relieved to report that the disruption to its operations was short-lived, with no physical damage to Metair properties and minimal stock losses experienced at third party sites. The manufacturing base has been stabilised and Metair is optimistic about the prospects for full year SA OEM production to return to pre-Covid-19 levels and to beat 2019 levels in 2022, subject to supply chain stability and successful project launches. Mutlu Akü and Rombat achieved record first half volumes and Metair expects the second half performance form Energy Storage to remain strong supported by the colder northern hemisphere weather.
“Looking ahead, our priority is on supporting flawless new model launches and facelifts and on expanding our automotive battery product range while maintaining the momentum gained in operating activity during the first half. We will continue to drive effective project management and improve operating efficiencies to maintain our current base while investing in the Group’s future.
“We are encouraged by the recovery experienced across both verticals together with the growth opportunities ahead in the Automotive Components Vertical and look forward to refining our lithium-ion strategy for trading, assembly and manufacturing, as well as developing our strategic approach for the Energy Storage Vertical in the second half to secure the best outcome for stakeholders.
“As part of our sustainability strategy, we are investigating initiatives to enhance our environmental stewardship and secure the Group’s positioning in the future of green manufacturing. Our efforts are extended through the sponsorship of TWIMS’ Green Manufacturing chair in 2021, furthering South Africa’s executive expertise in this arena to actively combat climate change,“ concluded Haffejee.