Bell records its best year ever

2008-03-17 00:00

JSE-listed heavy-duty equipment and vehicles supplier Bell Equipment yesterday recorded the highest pre-tax and post-tax profits in its history.

Results for the year ended December 31, 2007 revealed that revenue increased by 31% while headline earnings per share — a key profit measure for local companies — grew by 52%.

The Richards Bay-based exporter recorded an annual net profit of R364,9 million as all subsidiaries and divisions worldwide remained profitable.

A Group CE Gary Bell told The Witness that the outlook for the company remains positive, despite talk of a global slowdown sparked by a U.S. recession.

He said North America represents only about two percent of Bell’s business, adding that demand in Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, including Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, remain strong.

Group chairman Howard Buttery noted that exports reached an all time high at R2,5 billion, up a whopping 39,5% year on year.

"The bulk of our exports, 28% of our total turnover, was sold in Europe and 19% of our total turnover was sold in Africa — outside of South Africa. Exports now represent 54,7% of our global turnover as compared with 51,3% in 2006," said Buttery.

He expects this trend of growth and exports to continue with sustained demand being experienced in all offshore markets.

Bell said that South Africa’s broader infrastructure development plans will also contribute to an equally bright 2008, given the fact that the group concentrates heavily on civil construction.

Although optimistic about any harmful effect of the electricity crisis on the business, Bell noted that the company might experience difficulties in relation to its South African parts suppliers.

About 350 local companies supply components to Bell Equipment.

The company recently announced plans to expand its Richards Bay plant.

A new, R120-million assembly hall is expected to be completed next year, creating an extra 600 jobs.

Bell is also building a new parts distribution centre in Gauteng, at a cost of R190 million.

kavith@witness.co.za

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