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SA corporate loss-makers leave it to the last

Business

Several South Australian companies left it until the final day of reporting season to reveal their losses to the Australian Stock Exchange.

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As with some political decisions being quietly released late on a Friday, several Adelaide-headquartered firms left it to the final day of reporting season to inform the Australian Stock Exchange of less-than-flattering results.

It wasn’t all bad news – with some companies showing significant improvements to their bottom line – but none of these companies made a profit in 2019, the reports showed.

Hillgrove Resources

Hillgrove Resources, the Unley-based copper mining company which owns the Kanmantoo mine in the Adelaide Hills, described 2019 as a “year of transition”.

It reported a $10 million loss, down from its $29.5 million profit in 2018.

Hillgrove reported that its open pit mining of copper ore had been slower than, and fell short of, planned production due to rock falls in December 2018, and in February and May 2019.

The company said it spent big on remediation and engineering controls to ensure worker safety, cutting into margins.

Meanwhile, revenue fell from $180.1 million in 2018 to $113.5 million in 2019.

Hillgrove finished its open pit mining activities in May 2019 and started processing low-grade ore stockpiles, downsizing its workforce from 185 at the beginning of the year to 55 by year’s end.

More jobs will be cut when processing of open pit stockpiles finishes at Kanmantoo, to occur by the end of March.

There were some positives in the financial report, including that cash generation was up by 21 per cent, from $18 million in 2018 to $21.8 million in 2019 – on the back of reduced operating costs from completing the open pit operation.

This enabled the company to pay an $8.8 million dividend to shareholders.

In April 2019, Hillgrove announced it had entered into binding agreements with AGL Energy to sell the right to develop, own and operate the Pumped Hydro Energy Storage (PHES) project at Kanmantoo.

But the companies mutually agreed to end drawn out negotiations for the sale of the project last month, because “a number of conditions which needed to be satisfied within specified timeframes” had not been satisfied.

“After the agreed termination of the PHES agreements in February 2020, Hillgrove is no longer bound by restrictions imposed by those agreements, and is focussed on advancing the stucy for the Kavanagh Underground mining project beneath the open pit,” said Hillgrove managing director Lachlan Wallace in Friday’s statement to the ASX.

“The regulatory approvals (for Kavanagh), advanced nature of the underground study, and existing processing and tailings infrastructure materialy reduce the capital hudles and provide an opportunity to return to production relatively quickly.”

Boart Longyear

The world’s largest integrated mineral exploration products and services company, whose Asia Pacific regional headquarters is in Adelaide, revealed a $45 million loss for calendar year 2019 on Friday.

Revenue was down by $25 million, to $745 million.

But net cash flows from operating activities reached $35 million – a $31 million improvement on the previous year’s results – and its adjusted EBITDA was up $6 million, to $87 million.

Boart Longyear CEO Jeff Olsen said in a statement: “Like many in our industry, we witnessed organic global demand decline through the second half, which we attribute to the several significant mergers and acquisitions in the mining industry, which in turn delayed mineral exploration projects and reduced overall market activity.”

“We maintain the position that after the recent M&A activity there will be medium to long term benefits to the company with demand improving as major and intermediate mining houses expand their investment in exploration activities.”

One of the company’s directors, Richard Wallman, resigned from the board on Saturday, with Rubin McDougal appointed to replace him, subject to shareholder approval at the company’s next annual general meeting.

In a further statement to the ASX yesterday, the company said: “Board and management would like to express thanks to Mr Wallman for his dedicated leadership, and contributions, which has been instrumental to the successes of the company.”

Core Lithium

Lithium and diversified metals explorer Core Lithium posted a $1.65 million loss for the year to December 31, 2019, up from its $1.07 million loss in the previous year.

The company, with its head office in King William Street and advanced lithium assets in the Northern Territory, reported income of $78,413 in 2019, up from the $63,072 in 2018.

But higher administration, exploration, employee benefits and depreciation expenses dwarfed the revenue increase.

Core Lithium is proposing to develop one of Australia’s highest-grade lithium resources at its wholly-owned Finniss Lithium Project, South of Darwin.

The company is also targeting lithium, base metals, precious metals and uranium prospects in both the Northern Territory and South Australia.

1414 Degrees

On Monday last week, the company announced it would offer discounted shares to support the rollout of its solar generation technology at the Aurora Project, near Port Augusta, aiming to raise about $3 million.

But by Friday it had cancelled the offer, citing a significant deterioration of global economic and market conditions during the week.

Its half-year report, also released Friday, revealed a loss of $1.52 million – a 41 per cent improvement on its $2.58 million loss the previous year.

“We are working hard to realise value for shareholders and we look forward to reporting further progress,” the report reads.

The six months ended December 31, 2019, saw some significant wins for the company.

Among them, SA Water allowed 1414 Degrees to trial its prototype GAS-TESS unit at the Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plant, “providing a basis to design and demonstrate a commercial product that can be sold with confidence into the global wastewater utility market”.

Beston Global Food Company

Adelaide-based health foods firm Beston Global Food Company reported a $3.1 million loss for the final six months of 2019, a $12.4 million improvement on the final six months of 2018.

The company achieved revenues of $51.2 million, up 23 per cent.

Mozzarella sales were up 59 per cent, to 4290 tonnes, from 2690 tonnes in the previous half.

According to a company statement to the ASX on Friday, Beston’s improved figures reflected:

MGM Wireless

The technology company, headquartered in Rose Park, Adelaide, made a loss of $2.7 million, attributing it mainly to a one-off non-cash expense of options of $2.4 million.

But the company also made record revenue of $7.6 million in the six months to December 31, 2019, up 87 per cent on the final six months of 2018.

CEO Mack Fortunatow described it as “a strong result”.

“Distribution through retail stores trebled year on year, and the Christmas season was very successful, with substantial promotion by partners byilding awareness of the SPACETALK all-in-one children’s smartphone, watch and GPS device,” he told investors.

“We maintained a fast growth trajectory with strong wearables sales in Australia and New Zealand, and now in the UK, capitalising on the growth of the exciting new wearables industry.

“…Our product continues to lead the market, with unmatched security, build quality and features, backed by a strong knowledge of providing services to schools and parents for nearly 20 years.”

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