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Tharisa sees first-half profits surge as PGM prices rocket

Pre-tax profit in the six months to the end of March rose by 72% to S$17.5mln, up from US$10.2mln the year before.

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Tharisa PLC (LON:THS) has seen its first-half profit jump by 72% year-on-year, helped by a sharp increase in platinum group metal (PGM) prices.

The group, which ramped its mine back up to full capacity from 1 May after getting received approval from the South African authorities, reported pre-tax profit in the six months to the end of March rose to US$17.5mln, up from US$10.2mln the year before on revenue that climbed to US$194.6mln from US$166.5mln.

The average PGM basket price during the period was US$1,612 per ounce, compared to US$1,017 in the corresponding period of 2017/18.

READ Tharisa describes strong prior quarter, says 'reduced' mining continues amid South Africa lockdown

The resources company acknowledged that the economies in which it operates have faced a difficult period, with reduced growth rates, increasing unemployment and weakening government and corporate balance sheets.

“The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will exacerbate the challenges not only with our trading partners but in Cyprus, South Africa and Zimbabwe,” Phoevos Pouroulis, the chief executive officer of Tharisa said in the results statement.

Tharisa shares rose 4% to 60p by late on Thursday morning.

Analysts at Berenberg said the results were broadly in line with its expectations, with revenues a touch below its forecast but so was the cost of sales, with cash flow from operations US$5mln better than forecast.

Ramping up capacity "is encouraging and should result in lower costs", aided also by weaker forex and oil prices, the analysts said, noting that the K3 chrome plant is expected to resume operations in the third quarter and that the Vulcan fine chrome project remains suspended.

"In terms of markets, while still unclear in the medium term, the strength and pace of the Chinese rebound post-COVID-19 has led chrome concentrate prices to rise to circa US$155 per tonne (cost, insurance, freight) from USD129/t in Q2," they noted.

Berenberg trimmed its share price target to 150p from 160p to reflect adjustments to its forecast model, taking into account production and sales volumes, and new calculations for sales prices, offset to an extent by higher operating costs.

   --Adds share price and broker comment--

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Price: 66 GBX

LSE:THS
Market: LSE
Market Cap: £175.96 m
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