Petra Diamonds: Output Slips But Revenues Up

Petra Diamonds Limited has provided a trading update (unaudited) for the six months ended 31 December, 2014 (H1 FY 2015) ahead of the publication of the company's Interim Results for the period on 19 February.

Production was down 2% to 1,601,069 carats (H1 FY 2014: 1,634,576 carats), and Petra revised its full year production guidance from around 3.2 million carats to about 3.3 million carats.

Revenue was up 16% to $214.8 million (H1 FY 2014: $184.6 million); the results for H1 include sales proceeds for two exceptional diamonds for combined revenue of US$38.7 million.

"While the market for rough diamonds has been softer than usual in H1, the impact on Petra has been mitigated by the exceptional diamond sales noted above. The weaker Rand is also currently having a favorable effect on Petra's operating costs in US dollar terms," the miner said, adding that costs remain "well controlled and in line with guidance".

Capital expenditure of $125.2 million (H1 FY 2014: US$85.3 million) was in accordance with the roll out of the group's fully funded expansion programs and there is no change to FY 2015 guidance.

The firm reported a robust financial position as of 31 December 2014 with net debt reduced to $45.8 million (31 December 2013: $108.8 million), cash at bank of $129.6 million and debt facilities undrawn and available to the group of $66.9 million.

A modest maiden dividend of 2p per share is to be paid for the full 2015 financial year.

Johan Dippenaar, Chief Executive Officer, commented: "These are solid results, with production on track to exceed our previous full year target of 3.2 million carats and revenue boosted by the exceptional diamond sales, despite softer market conditions. FY 2015 is a transitionary period as it marks the last financial year in which the company is so reliant on production from the mature mining areas at Finsch and Cullinan. From FY 2016 onwards, we will start seeing significant and increasing input from undiluted ore, which is both higher grade and higher margin.

"In light of the strong outlook for Petra and the company's robust financial position, we have today announced our intention to pay a maiden full year dividend of 2p, which is a major milestone in the development of our company.

"While the rough diamond market may be under short-term pressure, retail demand for diamonds remains solid and the fundamentals for our industry, which are characterized by tight supply and growing demand, are very favorable."