S.Africa's ARM posts 15% rise in H1 profit on strong manganese business

JOHANNESBURG, March 16 (Reuters) – African Rainbow Minerals Ltd (ARM) posted a 15 percent rise in first-half profit on improved performance at its manganese, coal and copper divisions.

Headline earnings per share (HEPS) rose to 1,023 cents ($0.86) in the six months ended Dec. 31 from 893 cents in the same period a year earlier. That was in line with the South African diversified miner's guidance.

HEPS is the main profit measure in South Africa that strips out once-off items.

Headline earnings climbed to 1.945 billion rand from 1.693 billion rand, boosted by improved income from the manganese division, ARM Coal, ARM Copper and the Modikwa mine.

The manganese division's headline earnings rose 131 percent to 872 million rand due to higher sales and alloy prices, and as the company sold more high-grade manganese ore.

ARM declared a dividend of 250 cents per share for the first half.

"We are pleased to have declared a maiden interim dividend and will continue to consider interim and annual dividends taking into account amongst things our financial position, the outlook for our operations and commodity markets, capital expenditure and growth," ARM said in a statement.

($1 = 11.8888 rand)

(Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Tiisetso Motsoeneng and Subhranshu Sahu)