Ariston back in the black

Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed agricultural concern Ariston Holdings is slowly emerging out of the woods after the company posted a $28 500 profit in the half year to March 31, 2018 compared to a $2 million loss recorded in the same period last year.

Zimbabwe Stock Exchange
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange

The group’s chief executive, Paul Spear, said the agro-focused institution was in a better financial position than prior year and this consequently propelled the company to an improved year-to-date financial performance compared to 2017.

“The group recorded revenue of $5,31 million in the six-month period ended 31 March 2018 compared to $3,48 million recorded in the prior comparative period. The 53 percent increase in revenue arose out of the combined effect of significant volume and pricing improvements,” he said in a statement accompanying the group’s financial results for the period under review.

Spear noted that Ariston’s property firm, Southdown Estates, contributed 72 percent to the group’s revenue compared to 71 percent in the prior comparative period.

Other subsidiaries, Claremont and Kent contributed 17 percent and 11 percent respectively to Group revenue compared to 20 percent and 9 percent respectively in the prior comparative period.

“Other operating income improved to $1,27 million from $0,16 million in the prior comparative period. On the back of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe export incentive scheme, the group has been able to increase its export sales offering to include by-products of our production processes which in the absence of the incentive would not be economic to export,” the Ariston boss added.

During the current half year, the listed concern completed the restructuring of a portion of its borrowings into a facility with a longer tenure which enables the matching of repayments to future cash inflows.

Spear also noted that at the half year, harvesting of macadamia had commenced, however, only 27 percent of the crop having been harvested.

“The current year crop is expected to surpass prior levels. There has been a significant improvement in the quality of macadamia. This, coupled with the macadamia drying facility installed and commissioned in prior year, indicates that record average selling prices will be achieved this current year,” he said.

As at the half year, 419 tonnes had been produced and these were 26 percent ahead of prior comparative period. The year-to-date average selling price obtained was 31 percent ahead of prior comparative period.

Tea production for the half year improved to 1 907 tonnes compared to 1 392 tonnes for the prior comparative period.

Spear further indicated that full year production is expected to be significantly ahead of prior year.

“In the current period export tea sales volumes doubled and average selling prices improved by 3 percent over the prior comparative period. Sales of blended teas at 431 tonnes were 13 percent behind the prior comparative period. However, average selling prices improved by 22 percent as a result of changes in the sales mix,” he said.

Thus, blended tea revenue improved by 6,6 percent over the prior comparative period.

Spear said harvesting and selling of stone fruit for the current year had been completed by half year. Current year revenue at $0,46 million was 72,8 percent ahead of prior year due to improved quality and increased exports.

“Pome fruit harvesting had just commenced as at 31 March 2018 with 48 percent of the harvest in. At that date revenue at $0,21 million was 43,7 percent ahead of the prior comparative period due to improved quality.

The current year overall production volume for pome fruit is expected to be much higher than prior year as the production capacity of the young orchards continues to increase in line with expectations,” he said.

— The Financial Gazette