INDUSTRIAL construction firm Murray & Roberts (M&R)â€™s business has a â€œthinâ€ order book but management is optimistic it will continue picking up â€œsmall but profitableâ€ projects along the way.
CEO Canada Malunga says although his group has a relatively thin order book, its manufacturing business chipped in with volumes.
Malunga says the manufacturing division lifted capacity utilisation to current levels of around 40% from what he described as an â€œabsolutely awfulâ€ 10% prior to dollarisation.
He said Proplastics saw 40% of total volumes being sold in the year.
The groupâ€™s pipe business is enjoying business from local authorities keen on improving water distribution in all urban centres after years of neglect.
Management is also optimistic that M&R is well placed to take on opportunities that may arise in the market.
â€œWe are well-placed to take on opportunities and we are not intimidated by the appearance of other players on the market,â€ Malunga said.
Malungaâ€™s comments come on the back of news that South African construction companies were in town scouting for opportunities this week.
The groupâ€™s core construction business improved post dollarisation but August, according to Malunga, was the groupâ€™s best month so far.
Across the border, M&Râ€™s Malawian operation posted a loss owing to â€œstiff competition, foreign currency shortages and severance packages to staffâ€. Â
Malunga hopes once government resuscitates suspended road and rail projects, his group could cash in on those developments but is giving it six months to a year.
Malunga remained optimistic throughout his presentation and said although the dust on the political front might take longer to settle, companies can continue doing business in a stable environment.
Management also sees opportunities in water and sewer reticulation business. M&Râ€™s contracting business will spend US$5 million by June next year in capital expenditure to replace equipment and machinery while another US$2 million will be spent on the manufacturing business as well.
The group hopes the economy will experience some measure of â€œresurgenceâ€ six months to a year from now, a development that will buoy its business.
The group said: â€œThe new political set up has brought about hope and exciting opportunities for the country. The current business environment and anticipated growth present a lot of opportunities for the group. The group is pursing various initiatives centred on the infrastructure-rebuilding programme in Zimbabwe.â€
M&R made a profit before tax of US$1,2 million in its trading year to June while earnings per share stood at 0,90 cents. Gross profit rose by 24%. Return on equity grew by 12% in the same period.