Tag: growth

How SA climbed its way out of a recession

By Lameez Omarjee for Fin24

The SA economy has officially emerged from recession, Stats SA announced on Tuesday morning, following a 2.2% rise in GDP growth for the third quarter of the year.

The economic growth figures were broadly in line with the expectations of economists surveyed by Fin24 prior to publication, who had projected growth rates of between 0.8 and 2.6%.

The rand firmed by as much as 1% shortly after the release of the results.

However, despite the rebound, economists still expect overall GDP growth for the year to be weak, below 1%.

Here’s what boosted growth in the third quarter:

1. Manufacturing industry expands

Growth was mainly driven by the secondary sector, which grew by 4.5%. This was aided by a 7.5% increase in manufacturing. Large contributions came from steel and metals, and motor vehicle production, among other things.

2. Agriculture rebounds

Even though the primary sector contracted by 5.4% in the quarter – mainly due to a large drop in mining – the agriculture industry rebounded following two quarters of substantial contractions.

During the third quarter, increased production in field crops, horticultural and animal products, helped improve growth to 6.5%.

Earlier on Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that confidence in the industry had declined to its lowest in nine years. The agribusiness confidence index dropped from 48 to 42, mainly due to concerns over weather conditions and a lack of clarity on land reform policy.

3. Transport industry rebounds

The tertiary sector grew by 2.6% during the quarter. The transport, storage and communication industry in particular expanded by 5.7%, rebounding from a -4.9% contraction in the second quarter and improving from 0.9% growth reported in the first quarter.

4. Finance, real estate and business services continue growth trend

Also within the tertiary sector, the finance, real estate and business services industry continued its growth trend, increasing by 2.3% during the quarter.

Additionally, the trade industry – particularly wholesale, retail and food and beverages – and catering and accommodation increased by 3.2%.

5. Expenditure-led growth

Expenditure GDP grew to 2.3%, following a decline of -2.6% and -0.7% reported in the first and second quarters respectively. Government expenditure grew by 2.2%, while household expenditure grew by 1.6%.

However, gross-fixed capital formation declined -5.1% during the quarter, largely due to a decline in investment in construction works, transport equipment and residential buildings, according to the StatsSA report.

By Tia Frapolli for The NPD Group

The holiday season presents consumers with a perfect opportunity to get in touch with their creative side – a behaviour that bodes well for the US office supplies market.

Several arts, crafts, and traditional supplies categories that require creativity and offer an experience will be among the top industry performers this holiday. And, we know from NPD’s Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey that experiential gifting is not only trending with consumers, but set to grow over last year. In fact, the survey found that four out of 10 consumers plan on giving these types of gifts this year.

When it comes to the craft-related categories, consumer shopping behavior indicates a preference for discovering and purchasing these products in-person as opposed to online. Specifically, NPD data shows that acrylic paints, paint brushes, specialty note cards, and canvases all have a very low penetration in the e-commerce channel. In fact, over 95 percent of purchases in each of these categories are made in-store.

Tied to such products, we expect that popular holiday craft activities will include ornament decorating and homemade holiday décor. In addition, as spending time with friends and family is top of mind during the holidays, we expect the ever-popular canvas painting parties to continue to grow this season, and there are the sales numbers to show for it—canvas sales have grown by 20 percent over the past year.

Coinciding with the maker’s movement and popularity of hand lettering, this season we also expect to see a rise in holiday card making with custom lettering. A variety of writing instruments used for this activity are already seeing growth; collectively, sales of gel, porous, and fountain pens as well as dual, ultra, and extra fine color markers have grown by 8 percent leading up to the holiday season.

Without a doubt, consumers let their creativity shine during the holiday season, and this presents a favorable opportunity for the office supplies industry to get in on the action.

Source: The Citizen

WhatsApp vice president Chris Daniels confirmed at an event in New Delhi, India earlier this week that the popular messaging app will start showing users ads in the app’s status feature come 2019.

The WhatsApp status feature was launched early last year to mimic Snapchat’s stories feature which was later co-opted by Instagram and Facebook and it allows users to share text, photos, videos and animated GIFs that disappear after 24 hours.

According to India’s Economic Times, Daniels told journalists “we are going to be putting ads in ‘Status’. That is going to be primary monetisation mode for the company as well as an opportunity for businesses to reach people on WhatsApp.”

The new feature will take effect in 2019 but Daniels could not lock down an exact date.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s goal to monetise WhatsApp has forced the social media messaging service’s co-founders to leave the company reports Economic Times.

On of the app’s co-founders Brian Acton told Forbes that the move would undermine elements of WHatsapp’s encryption technology and that Zuckerberg was in a rush to make money from the app after purchasing it for $19 billion four years ago.

By Bekezela Phakathi with Andries Mahlangu for Business Day

The government will reprioritise about R50bn within its existing budget to reignite economic growth and create jobs, President Cyril Ramaphosa said last Friday.

Presenting the government’s much-anticipated grand plan to kick-start SA’s stalling economy, Ramaphosa also announced the establishment of an infrastructure fund that is a core part of the package. He said R400bn will be leveraged from various development finance institutions, pension funds and ordinary investors, among others over the medium term to drive the infrastructure fund.

“We are establishing a dedicated infrastructure team in the presidency that has project management and engineering skills which will identify shovel-ready public sector projects such as roads and dams,” Ramaphosa said during a briefing at the Union Buildings.

“We have limited fiscal space to increase spending or increase borrowing … we do not have have fiscal space to pour money in the economy … we have to resort to re-prioritising our spending and budget within the current fiscal frame work,” the president said.

The package also includes the new Mining Charter, major changes to visa requirements to boost the tourism sector, the development of industrial parks and township businesses, and reforms in the telecommunications industry, particularly the release of spectrum to create competition and drive down the cost of data.

“The stimulus package consists of a range of measures, financial and non-financial, to ignite economic activity and restore investor confidence, and prevent further job losses, and create new jobs,” Ramaphosa said.

The measures give priority to those sectors that can revive the economy, including agriculture.
Ramaphosa said more details on how the budget will be reprioritised will be provided when finance minister Nhlanhla Nene presents the medium-term budget policy statement. Nene said most of the funds for the stimulus package would be moved from under-performing departments.

Ramaphosa first proposed the stimulus package in July, in a bid to boost SA’s sluggish economy and tackle the unemployment crisis, which at just more than 27% remains a major headache for the government more than two decades since the official fall of apartheid. However, Ramaphosa’s plan to reignite growth was dealt a heavy blow with shock second-quarter GDP data indicating that SA had entered a technical recession.

The rand extended gains and government borrowing costs fell following the speech. The rand was at R14.22 against the dollar, its best level in about four weeks, while the yield on the benchmark R186 bond was at 9.03% from 9.08%.

Naspers to unbundle and list MultiChoice

By Nick Hedley for Business Day

The transformation of Naspers, which was founded more than a century ago to produce Dutch-language newspaper De Burger, into an online-only behemoth is almost complete.

Africa’s most valuable company, which owns a 31% interest in Chinese internet giant Tencent, said on Monday it planned to unbundle its pay-TV business MultiChoice onto the JSE.

Naspers will hand its interest in the DStv operator to its shareholders.

Investors cheered the news. After falling 3.2% earlier in the day, in line with Tencent’s decline in Hong Kong, Naspers rallied to close 0.7% up at R3,206.42, valuing the company at R1.4-trillion.

Naspers hopes to list the new entity MultiChoice Group, which includes its local and rest-of-Africa pay-TV business along with Showmax Africa and security company Irdeto, in the first half of 2019. The unbundling will cap off a remarkable transformation at Naspers, which was mostly a publishing and pay-TV business until its 2001 investment in China’s Tencent.

Naspers would not raise funds through the deal, said CEO Bob van Dijk, but its shareholders would benefit as the market currently ignored MultiChoice when valuing the group.

In its sum-of-the-parts valuation, US bank JP Morgan calculated that Naspers’ majority-owned MultiChoice unit is worth $8bn. More than 90% of that value sits in SA, according to the bank. That implies that MultiChoice Group is worth more than Shoprite.

Van Dijk said Naspers plans to give MultiChoice SA’s BEE investors another 5% stake in the local pay-TV business. “Besides unlocking value for our shareholders, maybe more important we think it will also unlock value for [BEE scheme] Phuthuma Nathi, which is already one of the most successful broad-based BEE schemes.”

He said Naspers will continue to invest in its SA e-commerce businesses, which include Takealot, Mr D Food, PayU and AutoTrader. “In the last year, we invested more than R3bn in the e-commerce businesses in SA alone. We expect to continue to invest and we’re looking at interesting prospects.”

It will also retain its interest in Media24, which is moving quickly into online publishing. The pay-TV market was poised for further growth despite pressure from internet-based rivals such as Netflix.

“Even in markets like Europe, people still have traditional TV services and on top of that people have connected services. In Africa the story is even more positive — you see very significant growth in traditional TV … as well as decent take-up already in SA of [streaming services] DStv Now and Showmax. I’m confident it’s a growth story.

“I feel confident about putting the business on its own legs.”

Robert Pietropaolo, a trader at Unum Capital, said the unbundling would be positive for Naspers “but the pressure will certainly be on MultiChoice to stay competitive”.

“MultiChoice themselves have already started cutting their headcount and they have started offering lower-tier packages, which unfortunately does not bring in the desired revenues. MultiChoice will not only have to be nimble from now on, but I think they may have to re-invent themselves to be competitive,” Pietropaolo said.

In the year ended March, the pay-TV operator lost 41,000 premium subscribers across its African markets. Even though the total subscriber base grew — MultiChoice added 563,000 users in SA in the year to March — this growth came from far less profitable lower-cost packages. However, the company remains highly cash generative. Over the same period, MultiChoice generated revenues of R47.1bn and trading profits of R6.1 bn.

MultiChoice SA CEO Calvo Mawela said the company had slowed the decline in high-margin premium subscribers. It lost more than 100,000 of these customers in its 2017 financial year but reduced that number to about 40,000 in 2018.

“Our focus on Premium is beginning to bear fruit.… We’ll continue to focus on Premium to ensure that we do not see further decline in Premium subscribers going forward.”

Source: eMarketer Retail 

When it comes to the US e-commerce market, Amazon is leaving the competition in the dust. This year, the online shopping juggernaut will capture 49.1% of the market, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast on the top 10 US e-commerce retailers, up from a 43.5% share last year. Amazon now controls nearly 5% of the total US retail market (online and offline).

Amazon will generate $258.22 billion in US retail e-commerce sales this year, up 29.2% over last year. Amazon’s Marketplace sales will represent an increasingly dominant portion of its e-commerce business—68.0% this year, compared with 32.0% for Amazon direct sales. By the end of 2018, sales generated from Amazon’s Marketplace will be more than double that of Amazon’s direct sales in the US.

“The continued growth of Amazon’s Marketplace makes sense on a number of levels,” eMarketer principal analyst Andrew Lipsman said. “More buyers transacting more often on Amazon will naturally attract third-party sellers. But because third-party transactions are also more profitable, Amazon has every incentive to make the process as seamless as possible for those selling on the platform.”

Computer and consumer electronics is the leading product category for Amazon, with sales of $65.82 billion in the US this year, representing more than a quarter of its retail e-commerce business.

In 2017, apparel and accessories surpassed books and music to become the second largest category. Apparel sales will grow more than 38% this year to reach $39.88 billion in the US. This category will represent 15.4% of Amazon’s e-commerce business, and 38.5% of all online apparel sales in the US.

But Amazon’s private-label push is being met with apprehension by several brands and retailers.

“While they are dependent on Amazon as a selling channel, they also recognize the threat to their brands should Amazon decide to compete by introducing its own private labels,” Lipsman said.

Other fast-growing categories for Amazon are food and beverage* and health, personal care and beauty. Food and beverage will grow more than 40% this year, while health and beauty will jump nearly 38%. Still, both categories represent just a small portion of Amazon’s US retail ecommerce sales.

“Amazon’s strategy for food and beverage is no different, in some respects, than it was for books—dominate the category,” eMarketer senior analyst Patricia Orsini said. “However, e-commerce in the grocery sector is a challenge. Share of online sales in this category is low because most people, for a host of reasons, prefer to buy food in brick-and-mortar stores. Amazon has an advantage because its shopper base is comfortable with shopping online. Along with insights gathered about Whole Foods shoppers, Amazon probably has the best chance of converting in-store grocery buyers to online grocery buyers.”

Calls for Facebook to be split up increasing

By Diamon Naga Siu for Mashable

Facebook may have grown to a point where it’s too big for its own good. Or anybody’s, for that matter.

The largest U.S. media and communications labor union, Communications Workers of America, is adding fuel to that point of view. It’s just joined the Freedom from Facebook Coalition, which is petitioning the Federal Trade Commission to break up the growing “monopoly” power of Facebook.

Blazoned atop the coalition’s website reads: “Facebook has too much power over our lives and democracy. It’s time for us to take that power back.” The coalition, which includes social activist groups like Demand Progress and MoveOn Civic Action, wants the FTC to separate WhatsApp and Instagram as separate companies, away from Facebook’s control.

CWA Communications Director Beth Allen told Mashable that the group was concerned about the social media giant’s growing power. And the labor union is not the only one with such a concern.

Facebook is already under the microscope of a federal investigation from the FTC for its Cambridge Analytica data scandal, and there are dozens of privacy lawsuits against the social media giant right now. Before things get any better for Facebook, they’ll probably get worse, at least from a legal perspective.

The CWA also has a lawsuit against Facebook, alleging that the way the company targets job advertisements leads to age discrimination. Allen told Mashable that joining this coalition could offer the group a larger platform for the union’s legal battle against Facebook.

“We have been looking closely at Facebook, and the coalition that was forming was interesting to us because we wanted to be able to shed more light on this age-discrimination issue,” Allen said. “We just want to make sure regulators are doing what they can to limit Facebook’s power and ensure that Facebook is not engaging in any discriminatory behavior.”

We’ll see whether the FTC will actually splinter the monolith, but it’s far from the first time Facebook has been accused of being a monopoly. When questioned about the issue before Congress in April, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook “certainly doesn’t feel like [a monopoly] to me.”

The list of others who feel differently is growing, and it may eventually enlarge to the point where Zuckerberg can’t just casually dismiss them.

By Sarah Butler for The Guardian 

Sainsbury’s planned £7.3bn takeover of Asda comes as the London-based supermarket continues to be outgunned by its three major rivals, according to the latest sales figures.

Sainsbury’s sales rose by just 0.2% in the 12 weeks to 22 April, its slowest pace of growth for more than a year.

Asda’s sales rose by 1.4% in the period, but the Leeds-based chain and Sainsbury’s both lost market share, according to the latest data from Kantar Worldpanel, while Tesco and Morrisons held steady thanks to their turnaround plans.

“It is very competitive out there for Sainsbury’s,” said Fraser McKevitt, the head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel. “Having had a difficult couple of years, Morrisons is now doing the basics of retail very well and Tesco is not seeing hugely rapid growth but it is consistent. In the light of a zero-sum game for food retail that has put pressure on everybody else.”

Sales at Tesco rose by more than 2% for the first time since 2011, helping the UK’s biggest supermarket chain retain a 27.6% share of the market compared with 15.9% at Sainsbury’s and 15.5% at Asda.

Supermarket sales growth
Morrisons also achieved sales growth in excess of 2% in line with the overall market. Discounters Aldi and Lidl continued to take market share as they increased sales by 7.7% and 9.1% respectively, helped by new stores openings.

But analysts at Bernstein noted that the discounters’ growth had slowed to the weakest pace since 2010, excluding a brief period in late 2016. Analyst Bruno Monteyne suggested the chains were finding it harder to secure new property.

McKevitt said sales growth would now be harder to find for all supermarkets as grocery inflation is slowing. Prices rose by 2.1% in the 12-week period, the slowest pace since March last year, driven by increases in the cost of butter, bottled colas and bread, while the price of fresh poultry and laundry detergent fell.

The recession that never happened

The South African economy grew 3.1% during the fourth quarter compared with the previous quarter — putting growth for the year at 1.3%, beating Treasury’s and other forecasts.

Compared with a year earlier, gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 1.5% in the fourth quarter of 2017.
Treasury had expected growth of 1% for the year.

The largest positive contributor to fourth-quarter growth was the remarkable recovery in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector, which increased 37.5% and contributed 0.8 of a percentage point to GDP growth.

The trade, catering and accommodation industry grew 4.8% and contributed 0.6 of a percentage point.

The primary sector (which includes agriculture and mining) increased by 4.9%, the secondary sector (manufacturing, electricity and construction) grew by 3.1% and the tertiary sector (trade, transport, finance, government and personal services) grew by 2.7% compared with the third quarter.

This signals that the country’s economy is poised for a recovery.

It is a vast improvement on the dismal 0.3% GDP growth achieved in 2016 but still remains weak by the country’s historic standards.

In the third quarter, the economy grew by 2% quarter on quarter, demonstrating a resilience that suggested it was in better shape than most economists had previously thought.

Expenditure on real GDP increased by 3.1% in the fourth quarter of 2017, while final consumption expenditure by general government increased by 1.3%.

Treasury is forecasting growth to rise to 1.5% in 2018 on political and policy certainty, renewed confidence and rising private fixed investment.

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said on Monday that it was likely that the growth forecasts would be revised upwards due to improved business and investor confidence.

Growth for 2016 was revised up to 0.6% from 0.3%.

Third-quarter GDP growth in 2017 was revised higher, from 2% to 2.3%.

The changes were based on better access to data sets, said Statistics SA deputy director-general Joe de Beer.

The revisions indicate that SA wasn’t actually plunged into a recession last year. A recession is based on two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

The performance in the fourth quarter of 2016 has been revised from a 0.3% contraction to growth of 0.4%.

By Sunita Menon for Business Day

Lenovo’s downward spiral might not be over

In four years, Lenovo Group went from would-be Apple Inc. challenger to an also-ran in smartphones and data-centre servers. Now it’s got a comeback plan, but some investors don’t buy it.

China’s erstwhile tech darling, which lost its perch atop the PC market to HP Inc. in 2017, has shed two-thirds of its value since hitting a 15-year high in 2015. At a two-year earnings multiple of about 10 times, its stock is cheapest among the world’s largest computer makers. Yet all seven analysts ranked best by Bloomberg based on one-year returns urge investors to sell. Their average target puts Lenovo 13 percent below Tuesday’s close.

From money-hemorrhaging businesses to resurgent competition for its cash-cow PC division and a revolving-door executive team, the company that once aspired to Apple and Samsung’s heights seems to have lost its way. Chief Executive Officer Yang Yuanqing’s failed repeatedly to deliver on turnaround deadlines and hasn’t fully articulated a strategy to revive ailing mobile and datacenter arms — even as local rivals gun for its bread-and-butter Chinese customer base. The company’s even resorted to selling office buildings to prop up the bottom line.

“I just don’t see signs of change,” said Qian Kai, an analyst with CICC who’s covered Lenovo for five years and the third-ranked analyst of 30 in Bloomberg’s Absolute Return Rankings. He lowered his target price to HK$2.60 in February. “Lenovo’s been caught in the middle of a very awkward situation where it can neither turn the tables on its home turf nor expand quickly enough in overseas markets.”

It’s a far cry from the days when Lenovo was at the top of its game. Yang took the stage at an 18,000-seat Beijing arena one frigid winter’s evening in 2014 to surprise euphoric employees with news Lenovo had agreed to take over International Business Machine Corp.’s commodity server business for more than $2 billion. That same year, it sealed a deal to buy Motorola Mobility from Google, becoming the world’s No. 3 smartphone label.

That was then. The Moto line has tumbled out of the top ranks, unable to expand its footprint in the U.S. and pummeled by fast-moving rivals in Asia from Oppo to Xiaomi Corp. Liu Chuanzhi, an industry trailblazer who transformed Lenovo into one of China’s most recognizable brands, fell on his sword during this year’s address.

“How many mistakes have we made? How many mistakes have I myself made?” Liu said in February. “Without question, today’s Lenovo Group faces severe and acute challenges. The challenge is multi-dimensional and uncertain. It’s an age when innovations in technology and business model are powerful enough to overturn an industry and even social customs.”

Lenovo’s now overhauling its sales channel. It’s re-enlisted Liu Jun — the architect of the Motorola deal — to reinvigorate China via new avenues such as e-commerce.

“Turning around the business is still our goal, but we probably need more quarters to deliver that result,” Yang said in an interview in February. “We are transitioning in emerging markets from Lenovo brand to Motorola brand, it hasn’t gone very well. We need to clear inventory and rebuild the brand.”

It also missed out on “its best shot” to grow its server business, Qian said. At the time the IBM deal was unveiled, Chinese customers were starting to eschew IBM, Oracle and EMC in favor of local names. Many ended up with Huawei or Inspur because Lenovo took eight months to close its acquisition.

Lately, the company’s shown signs of life. It’s expected to return to (meagre) revenue growth this fiscal year after two successive annual declines. But at least one fund manager warns against getting into a PC sector that remains sluggish at best.

“The industry is unlikely to see hyper-growth in the short run,” said Zhang Haidong, a fund manager with Jinkuang Investment Management who doesn’t own stock in Lenovo. Even “the smartphone business may not see its next inflection point until 2019.”

Alexander Medd, an analyst with Bucephalus Research who’s been one of Lenovo’s harshest critics, argues the company needs cool products. But it may be too late.

“Tech brands do not come back,” he said.

Source: Bloomberg / MyBroadband 

  • 1
  • 2
  • 8

Follow us on social media: 

               

View our magazine archives: 

                       


My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Top