PRELIMINARY FINANCIAL RESULTS 2015
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Financial and operational overview
De Beers’ underlying EBIT decreased by 58% to $571 million (2014: $1,363 million). This was the result of weaker rough diamond demand and lower revenue, offset in part by tight operating cost control and favourable exchange rates.
Total De Beers revenue fell by 34% to $4.7 billion (2014: $7.1 billion), mainly driven by lower rough diamond sales, which declined by 36% to $4.1 billion. This was due to a 39% reduction in consolidated sales volumes to 19.9 million carats (2014: 32.7 million carats), partly offset by a 5% increase in the average realised diamond price.
This 5% increase in average realised diamond prices to $207/carat (2014: $198/carat) reflected a stronger product mix, despite an 8% lower average rough price index for the period. From the final Sight in 2014 to the final Sight in 2015, the De Beers rough price index declined by 15%.
Owing to weaker rough diamond demand, De Beers reduced production, costs and capital expenditure. As a result of the cost saving programmes, supported by favourable exchange rate movements, consolidated unit costs declined from $111/carat to $104/carat.
Global consumer demand for diamond jewellery in 2015 is expected to have declined marginally in US dollar terms from the record levels of 2014, as growth in the US was offset by the economic slowdown in China and the strength of the dollar.
The US, the largest market for polished diamonds at approximately 45% of global market value, again saw the strongest growth, albeit at a slower rate than in 2014. Demand for diamond jewellery by Chinese consumers was stable, while in India, diamond jewellery demand contracted in local currency terms.
Weaker than expected consumer demand in 2015 resulted in retailers reducing their demand for polished diamonds from the midstream manufacturers. A build-up in polished stocks in the midstream put downward pressure on polished prices, and reduced the midstream’s willingness to purchase additional rough diamonds. This was exacerbated by a more stringent financing environment.
Mining and manufacturing
Rough diamond production decreased by 12% to 28.7 million carats (2014: 32.6 million carats) as De Beers reduced production in response to prevailing trading conditions.
Debswana’s production decreased by 16% to 20.4 million carats, driven by a reduction in tailings production at Jwaneng, combined with the bringing forward of planned maintenance at both Jwaneng and Orapa. Debswana is focusing on improving reliability and cash costs, while maintaining flexibility, with Damtshaa, a satellite of Orapa, being placed onto temporary care and maintenance from 1 January 2016, affording the option of efficiently resuming production when market conditions allow.
In South Africa, production was in line with 2014, though below planned 2015 production. A decline at Venetia, owing to lower throughput and a reduction in tailings processing – again, in response to softer trading conditions – was offset by increased production at Kimberley. The completion of the sale of Kimberley Mines to Ekapa Minerals was announced on 21 January 2016.
Production at Namdeb Holdings decreased by 6%, as a result of a focus on lower grade mining areas in response to prevailing trading conditions. This impact was partly compensated by increased availability of the Mafuta vessel at Debmarine Namibia. The terms of a new 10-year sales agreement between De Beers and the Government of the Republic of Namibia are currently being finalised.
In Canada, production was in line with the prior year as lower grades at both Snap Lake and Victor were offset by improved throughput. In December 2015, De Beers announced that Snap Lake would be placed onto long term care and maintenance with immediate effect.
Element Six experienced challenging trading conditions throughout the year, primarily as a result of the effect on sales of the contraction in global oil and gas drilling activity. The resulting impact on revenue and operating margins was partly offset by a cost-containment programme, affecting both direct and indirect costs. The plant in Sweden has been closed, while the plants in South Africa and Ireland have been upgraded and restructured to optimise production and reduce the cost base.
ForevermarkTM continued to expand and is now available in 1,760 outlets – a 14% increase on 2014 – across 35 markets and, despite the challenging trading conditions, the brand achieved double-digit sales growth. In March 2015, a new grading and inscription facility was opened in Surat in India, with the potential to process up to $500 million worth of diamonds annually. In August, Forevermark™ announced the relaunch of the A Diamond is Forever™ marketing campaign, which began in the US and India in advance of the key selling season in the fourth quarter. De Beers also invested in additional holiday marketing campaigns to further stimulate diamond jewellery gift giving across the key US and China markets; these campaigns were received positively by the industry.
De Beers Diamond Jewellers maintained its focus on fast-growing markets, with 35 stores in 12 key consumer markets around the world, and continued to see strong sales in the higher-end market and with Chinese consumers worldwide.
De Beers expects the US market to remain the main driver of growth in consumer demand in 2016. The extent of global growth will, however, be dependent upon a number of macro-economic factors, including the strength of the dollar and economic performance in China and its impact worldwide. Longer term, the sector is likely to continue to see benefit from a continuing rise in the world’s middle classes in emerging markets, particularly in China and India.
Rough diamond demand in 2016 will be dependent upon consumer demand for diamond jewellery and the resultant levels of restocking required by retailers and, consequently, the midstream. Diamond production (on a 100% basis) for 2016 is forecast to be in the range of 26-28 million carats, subject to trading conditions. Consistent with this level of production, plans are in place to deliver $200 million of cash savings in production costs, overheads and capital expenditure.
For more on De Beers' financial performance in 2015, visit our Results Centre.
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