PPC Group revenue increased by 3% to R8 938 million (March 2020: R8 671 million) due to the recovery in cement sales. Excluding Zimbabwe, group revenue increased by 7%. Group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (“EBITDA”) increased by 16% to R1 598 million (March 2020: R1 381 million) with an EBITDA margin of 17.9% (March 2020: 15.9%).
EBITDA benefited from volume growth and stringent cost control. Excluding PPC Zimbabwe, group’s EBITDA from continuing operations increased by 66%. Finance costs decreased by 19% to R283 million (March 2020: R349 million) due to lower average borrowings.
Operating profit increased by 75% year-on-year from R600 million to R1 051 million. Headline earnings from continuing operations, however, decreased from R787 million to R77 million.
Cash available from operations amounted to R1 022 million (March 2020: R273 million). Cash generation benefited from improvements in EBITDA, reduction in working capital absorption, and lower finance cost paid. Cash generation and preservation is a key performance measure for PPC.
Gross debt amounted to R2 628 million on 31 March 2021 (March 2020: R5 800 million). The R3 172 million decline in gross debt includes R2 482 million relating to the DRC transferred to liabilities associated with assets held for sale and disposal groups.
Despite the recovery in cement demand in most of its markets, PPC is mindful of the prevailing uncertainties around the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on economic activity. PPC will remain focused on improving cost competitiveness and cash generation. PPC will take the necessary strategic and operational measures to ensure that it can continue to serve its customers, protect its employees and implement strategic initiatives to ensure financial sustainability through all demand cycles.