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Solid 2018 for Bushveld on strong vanadium price

Vanadium producer Bushveld Minerals ended its first full year as a controlling shareholder of Vametco with a profit after tax of US$49 million, with the solid financial performance underpinned by a strong vanadium price.
Solid 2018 for Bushveld on strong vanadium price Solid 2018 for Bushveld on strong vanadium price Solid 2018 for Bushveld on strong vanadium price Solid 2018 for Bushveld on strong vanadium price Solid 2018 for Bushveld on strong vanadium price

Bushveld Vametco vanadium production slipped in 2018 on stoppages and and unexpected operational challenges

The 2018 profit compared to a loss of $892,648 the previous year and translated into basic and diluted profit per share of 2.9c, up from a loss of 0.2c a year ago.

Adjusted EBITDA was $101 million, while revenue for the year was $192.1 million, much higher than 2017's $2.8 million.

After becoming a producer by gaining a controlling interest in Vametco at the end of 2017, Bushveld then upped its effective underlying interest in the subsidiary from 59.1% to 75% in September.

Vametco generated an adjusted EBITDA of $108.3 million and revenue of $183 million during the year, up 353% and 131%, respectively.

"We are mindful, however, that while Vametco generated strong cash flows, operational performance was below expectation," CEO Fortune Mojapelo said.

"Although we remain one of the lowest cost producers ... we produced 40% less than the potential production capacity of Vametco (albeit with some modest capital spending). The potential to further lower our cost position by maximising throughput is not lost on us and will be a key focus of our future efforts."

Vametco's annual production fell 3.4% on the year to 2,560 tonnes of vanadium after 37.5 days of stoppages and unexpected operational challenges.

The average ferrovanadium price climbed 149% year-on-year to $81.2 per kg vanadium, driven by a persistent structural deficit, which Mojapelo said was accentuated in November by temporary factors relating to the anticipated new Chinese rebar standard coming into effect, as well as growing substitution of vanadium by niobium. 

"The new Chinese rebar standard is expected to increase China's vanadium demand by 30% underlying the continued anchor role the steel sector has for vanadium demand," he said. 

Mojapelo pointed out that, on a total shareholder return basis, in 2018 Bushveld was the best-performing FTSE-AIM materials stock and the third-best performer on the FTSE-AIM All Share Index, with the share price appreciating by more than 350% during the year, "outperforming an impressive vanadium price performance".

Bushveld's shares (AIM:BMN) started 2018 at around 8.25p and ended it at 38.75p, with a peak of 48.5p on December 19.

During 2018, Bushveld also raised over $20 million in a placement at 10.3p (US13c) per share.

The company had total cash of $42 million at the end of December, up from $9.7 million at the end of 2017, and no debt, which compared to debt of $7.9 million on December 31, 2017.

Its shares were down 7.72% Thursday to 26.3p.

BMO's Alexander Pearce said the results had been largely as expected.  

"Looking ahead, focus is likely to remain on the company's ambitious growth targets, from 2,560t vanadium in 2018 to a long-term target of 10,000tpa. Given this backdrop and its highly attractive trading multiples, we continue to rate the stock 'outperform'," he said.