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Petra Diamonds warns on profit, cuts output view; shares slump

[LONDON] Petra Diamonds Ltd said on Monday it expects full-year core earnings to come in about 10 per cent to 15 per cent below consensus and cut its 2018 production forecast, sending its shares down 15 per cent in early trading.

The company, which operates diamond mines in South Africa and Tanzania, said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) to be hit by the recent strengthening of the South African rand.

The profit warning comes after a three-week strike at its South Africa operations and the blocking of a consignment of diamonds in Tanzania that led the company to flag a possible breach of two of its debt covenants in October.

Petra, which had a net debt of about US$644.7 million as of Dec.31, said on Monday it started formal discussions with its lenders to evaluate the covenants.

The London-listed company said it expects to produce 4.6-4.7 million carats (mcts), below its previous forecast of 4.8-5.0 mcts, primarily due to lower grade diamonds recovered from its Cullinan mine in South Africa.

However, revenue per tonne is expected to be materially in line with estimates, helped by higher average diamond prices.

It expects overall 2018 revenue to remain in line with current consensus, including the expected sale of the blocked consignment of diamonds in Tanzania.

As part of a wider crackdown in its mining industry, Tanzania blocked the consignment after accusing Petra of under-declaring the value of the stones by about half. Petra has denied the accusation.


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