Sasol shares plummet amidst South African operation woes

Sasol shares fell the most in more than three months after the synthetic fuel and chemical maker reported issues throughout its South African operations.

The company that manufactures fuel from coal saw production volumes at its Secunda hub in the three months through March drop 9% from the previous quarter “due to reduced overall equipment availability and operational instability”, Sasol said in a sales update on Tuesday.

Volumes for the financial year are expected at between 6.9 and 7.1 million tons, missing guidance of 7 to 7.3 million tons.

The shares slipped as much as 8.2%, their sharpest drop since 10 January, on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Mining operations that have plagued Sasol showed improvement in the fiscal third quarter, “albeit at a slower pace than anticipated”, the company said.

A fatality in March that brought the total for the year to five, along with other operational issues, has led to coal production tracking at the lower end of its guidance.

Analysts at Morgan Stanley said Sasol’s synthetic fuels volumes for the quarter missed their estimates, while the upper range of its revised full-year guidance is just below the broker’s projection of 7.15 million tons.

Quarterly chemical revenue was in line with their expectations, analysts Christopher Nicholson and Brian Morgan wrote in a note.

Sasol said it expects “macro volatility to persist” through the last financial quarter, “with geopolitical risks remaining elevated, negatively impacting our business performance.”