Financial performance

2017 marked a significant improvement in the financial performance of the Bell group compared with recent years. The group reported a profit after tax for the year of R272,1 million for 2017, compared with R38,6 million for 2016, and headline earnings per share of 270 cents (2016: 48 cents). The operating profit margin increased from 2,5% in 2016 to 6,4% in 2017.

The profit attributable to the new BBBEE partner in BESSA for the period since the transaction was concluded in May 2017 was R11,8 million.

Although sales in most mining dependent markets remained constrained, increased ADT sales volumes in North America and Australasia, higher production volumes through the factory facilities and a reduction in expenses, particularly relating to the groupís operation in the DRC where significant losses were incurred in 2016, contributed to 2017 being a more profitable year for the group. The second half of 2017 reflected an improvement on the first half of the year as the effects of further right-sizing steps taken in the DRC and ramped up production volumes yielded positive results. The Rand was also weaker, on average, against the Euro in the second half of the year than in the first half of 2017 and this had a favourable impact on the second half result.

Although the Rest of Africa operating segment reported a substantially lower loss in 2017, especially in the second half of 2017, than in 2016, this segment is still not generating an

acceptable financial return and further steps will be taken during 2018 to address this. The groupís operation in the DRC is still experiencing low sales, partly due to subdued mining activity but also due to the groupís tighter credit management in this market. The groupís operation in Mozambique was taken over by an independent dealer during 2017.

Revenue

Total group revenue in Rand terms increased by 13% compared with 2016 from R6 billion in 2016 to R6,8 billion in 2017. ADT sales volumes were relatively flat in all markets in 2017 other than in North America and Australasia which showed good volume increases.

Revenue from sales in South Africa increased by a modest 9,6% compared with 2016 and contributed 44,5% of group sales in 2017, slightly down on 45,8% in 2016. Sales in Africa outside South Africa contracted by a further 23,1% in 2017 and contributed 9,1% of group sales in 2017.

Total group sales in Europe increased by 7,8%, with the contribution by the European market to total group sales decreasing from 22,7% in 2016 to 18,6% in 2017. Sales in the increasingly important North American market increased by a pleasing 73,5% and contributed 17,5% to group sales, compared with 11,4% in the prior year. Sales to dealers in Africa, South America and Australasia increased by 71,1%, due to increased sales to the groupís independent dealer in Australasia, and these sales comprised 10,3% of group sales.

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