Sasol earnings attributable to shareholders for the six months ended December 31, 2014 increased by 54% to R19,5 billion from R12,7 billion in the prior period.
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Headline earnings per share increased by 6% to R32,00 and earnings per share increased by 53% to R32,04 compared to the prior period.
However, excluding the impact of remeasurement items, net once-off charges, movements in company's share-based payment expense and lower unrealised profit in inventory, earnings attributable to shareholders decreased by 23% from the prior period.
Profit from operations of R30 billion increased by 39% compared to the prior period. This achievement was due to an overall strong operational performance from company's Regional Operating Hubs (ROHs) coupled with increased sales volumes and improved margins in company's Performance Chemicals and Base Chemicals Strategic Business Units.
The group's profitability was further enhanced by a 9% weaker average rand/US dollar exchange rate (R10,99/$ for the six months ended 31 December 2014 compared with R10,08/$ in the prior period). This benefit was partially offset by a 19% decline in average Brent crude oil prices (average dated Brent was $89,00/barrel for the six months ended 31 December 2014 compared with $109,83/barrel in the prior period).
Cash flow generated from operations increased by 21% to R34,0 billion compared with R28,1 billion in the prior period. This includes a decrease in working capital of R1,8 billion in the current period, due to lower commodity prices. Company's net cash position improved by 29% from R38,0 billion in June 2014 to R48,9 billion as at 31 December 2014. Capital expenditure over the period amounted to R22,1 billion, which is in line with company's expectations.
Sasol' revised dividend policy is a dividend cover range which will be based on headline earnings per share. The interim dividend cover was 4,6 times at December 31, 2014 (December 31, 2013: 3,8 times).
Sasol said it has cut 1,500 jobs, the latest big round of layoffs in a global oil sector scrambling to cope with the oil-price rout. ■