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  Reviewed Results 2002     E-mail

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COMMENTS ON RESULTS

 

Holders of securities in Trencor and Mobile are reminded that the comparative figures are for the eighteen months ended 31 December 2001.

TRENCOR

Trading income from our core businesses for the year ended 31 December 2002 showed an improving trend to R563 million compared to R616 million over the previous 18-month period.

Headline earnings were, however, unfavourably impacted by the influence of the significantly stronger rand on the translation of long-term receivables and the related provision.  The rand weakened from R6,78 to R12,06 against the US dollar in the 18-month period ended 31 December 2001, but recovered to R8,66 at 31 December 2002.  The effect of this change is that the company reported an unrealised exchange gain on the translation of its long-term receivables (net of provisions) of approximately R1,2 billion in 2001 whilst, during the year under review, a net R870 million of this gain has effectively been reversed.  A net gain of R71 million on translation of certain dollar-denominated loans and investments was also recorded.

In recognition of the sustained period of lower US dollar interest rates, the discount rate applied in the valuation of long-term receivables has been reduced by 1% to 8,5% per annum with effect from 1 January 2002.  After adjusting for currency differences and debtor provisions, the net positive impact on pre-tax income of this change is R53 million.

Pursuant to the above, the aggregate loss before tax for the year was R455 million (18 months to 31 December 2001: profit R1,15 billion) and the undiluted headline loss per share was 230 cents (2001: headline earnings of 465 cents).

Trading

Textainer performed well, particularly in the second half of the year during which its contribution to group earnings amounted to R88 million; its contribution for the full year was R124 million.  Its container fleet utilisation at the end of the year was 89%, compared to 71% at the same time in the previous period.  The size of the fleet under management was 962 000 TEU (twenty foot equivalent unit) at the end of the year, of which more than half were leased-out under long-term leases.  The fleet under management exceeded one million TEU by the end of January 2003.  77% of the 462 600 TEU of containers owned by Textainer itself are in long-term leases.

TrenStar Inc, our 61% US subsidiary, successfully established its international business activities, particularly in the US and the UK, and opened up new opportunities for TrenStar SA (formerly Trencor Solutions) to export equipment manufactured by itself and others in South Africa.  During the year under review, TrenStar, through Brewers Logistics International Ltd (“BLI”), its 75% UK subsidiary, purchased, in two separate transactions, the beer keg fleets of the UK breweries Scottish Courage Ltd and Carlsberg-Tetley Brewing Ltd, and so obtained a 42% market share within the UK beer keg market.  On the successful conclusion of pending negotiations with other breweries within the UK that should rise to 65%. These transactions have been fully debt-funded by UK banks at reasonable rates without any monetary guarantee from, or other recourse against, Trencor or TrenStar.  After having absorbed significant start-up costs in the year under review, we expect TrenStar to start contributing positively to earnings in 2003.

The rate of production at our stainless steel tank container manufacturing plant in Parow, near Cape Town, increased steadily during the year and we have started 2003 with the best forward order position we have enjoyed for some time.  The stronger rand has put pressure on margins and sales, but the facility operated satisfactorily during the year under review.

The trailer business, in which the group now has a 40% interest, traded satisfactorily during the year and made a positive contribution to group earnings.  This is in pleasing contrast to the R27 million loss reported in the period prior to the merger which took effect on 1 December 2001.

Finance

The stronger rand has resulted in a gain of R85 million on translation of the outstanding balance of the US dollar loans, most of which were raised by the company during the year under review.  The proceeds of the loan raised in 2002 were applied in repaying rand obligations to South African lenders.  The amount outstanding under this facility at 31 December 2002 was US$48,3 million and the interest rate was 3,55% per annum.

The ratio of interest-bearing debt to permanent capital increased from 173% at 31 December 2001 to 205% at 31 December 2002, mainly as a result of increased borrowings to fund the beer keg purchases.  However, with Textainer and BLI notionally equity accounted (the debt of these companies is without recourse to Trencor) this ratio was 38% compared to 41% at 31 December 2001.

Tax queries

The enquiry by the South African Revenue Service (“SARS”) into the tax treatment of the group’s export partners’ participation in the export of cargo containers (in respect of transactions entered into in prior years) has entered its fifth year.  We have reason to believe that SARS has completed its enquiries, but it is not possible to anticipate when they will come to any conclusion.  The income tax principles underlying the tax treatment of the participation of our partners in the export trade have been the subject of a number of supportive legal opinions, including from various Senior Counsel, and we remain confident that the legal advice received will prevail should SARS seek to challenge the tax treatment.

As previously reported, a successful challenge by SARS may result in the acceleration of the payment of a portion of the amounts attributable to third parties (i.e. our export partners) which are carried at their net present values, and which would otherwise be paid over periods of up to thirteen years.

Dividend

The board of directors has decided not to declare a dividend.

Directorate

Mr AM Brown resigned as a non-executive director on 19 November 2002.  Mr JE Hoelter, formerly CEO of Textainer Group Holdings Ltd, was appointed as an independent non-executive director with effect from 2 December 2002.

MOBILE

As Mobile’s net income is almost entirely dependent upon the receipt of dividends from Trencor, the non-declaration of a dividend by Trencor at this stage has, in turn, caused the board of Mobile not to declare a dividend.

REVIEW OPINION

These results have been reviewed by the auditors, KPMG Inc, an their unmodified review reports are available for inspection at the registered office.

ON BEHALF OF THE BOARDS

NI JOWELL       CHAIRMAN TRENCOR LIMITED
C JOWELL        CHAIRMAN MOBILE INDUSTRIES LIMITED
10 MARCH 2003


 
 
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