PGM price hike helps Amplats to share earnings lift despite operational headwinds

Platinum Pour

ANGLO American Platinum (Amplats) will announce a 49% and 69% year-on-year increase in share earnings when it reports its full-year earnings on February 22.

Commenting in a trading update, the 80%-owned Anglo American company said the improvement was owing to a 71% increase in the rand basket price for platinum group metals (PGMs) – a development that more than offset production headwinds.

In March, Amplats shut its operating facilities in line with a South African government lockdown aimed at stemming the spread of Covid-19 infections. The firm’s mines operated at reduced levels for most of the year and even now are at about 90% of capacity.

In addition, technical problems at Amplats’ processing units – the Anglo Converter Plant (ACP) A and B – resulted in heavy downtime in refined production. The company confirmed today it would take about 24 months to work through the backlog.

The ACP Phase A rebuild was completed on November 24 and “… has been operating well and in line with expectations”, said Amplats. The second refining unit, ACP B, was being rebuilt and would be operating in the second half of Amplats’ 2021 financial year.

Headline earnings would come in between R27.8bn and R31.4bn compared to R18.6bn in 2019. Headline share earnings will increase to between 10,586 cents and 11,957c per share compared to 7,087c in 2019, Amplats said.

Basic earnings and earnings per share for the period are likely to increase by between 50% and 70% compared to the prior period, equal to be between R27.8bn and R31.4bn compared to R18.5bn in 2019. Earnings per share are expected to be between 10,586c and 11,957c per share versus 7,046c in 2019.