Adequate forex key to Astra growth

Paul Nyakazeya


SUFFICIENT and affordable foreign currency availability holds the key to Astra Industries’ ability to achieve real growth in the current financial year ending August 31.

The group said this after achieving a turnover of $1,012 trillion cost terms for the interi

m reporting season to February 28, 2005.

The turnover was a 928% increase over the comparative period in spite of aggregate volumes declining by 26% during the period under review.

“The inability to access adequate foreign currency continues to impact negatively on the stock holdings and sales volumes,” said the company in a statement accompanying their financial results.

The country has been experiencing acute foreign currency shortages over the past six years, forcing many companies to source the foreign currency on the parallel market where it is more expensive.

“In response (to the shortage of affordable foreign currency), the group has had to focus mainly on higher margin product lines. This margin increased by 10 percentage points,” Astra said.

Unlike many listed companies that did not declare a dividend during the recent interim and financial year-end, Astra declared a dividend during the interim period.

At a meeting held by the group’s directors on April 5, an interim dividend of $153 per share was declared.

The dividend will be payable to shareholders registered in the books of the company at close of business on May 12. Non-resident and individual shareholder tax will be deducted from dividends as appropriate.

Going forward, the group highlighted the need for sufficient and affordable foreign currency availability if it was to maintain or surpass the performance achieved during the interim period.

“Sufficient and affordable foreign currency availability holds the keys to the group’s ability to achieve real growth in the future. The continuing rise in inflation (currently at 913,6%) will increasingly impact negatively on consumers’ ability to afford our products,” said Astra.

Astra said continuing efforts by the fiscal and monetary authorities to reduce inflation and increase foreign exchange supply in the economy would, if successful, enhance the company’s performance.

Astra Industries now comprises Astra Paints, Astra Steel and Engineering Supplies and Astra Chemicals. This was after the holding company — Astra Ltd Group — was demerged into three companies — Astra Industries Ltd, Cairns Holdings and Tractive Power Holdings, now separately listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

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