Zimbabwe: Listed Companies Defy Crisis, Pay Out Dividends

A SIGNIFICANT number of Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) listed companies have declared dividends in the past year, defying an economic crisis that continued in 2020, compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, financial statements for the firms indicate.

Zimbabwean firms have also been affected by a dire foreign currency crisis, exchange rate volatilities that only stabilised in the second half of 2021 and high inflation.

Experts say the payouts demonstrated Zimbabwean companies' resilience against the tough economic environment.

Blue-chip counter Delta Corporation posted $1,1 billion profit for the half year ended September 30, 2020, and declared an interim dividend of $0,45 per share, which was paid out on December 17, 2020.

Canaan Dube, the group's chairman, said the volumes were recovering and the board saw it fit to reward shareholders.

Significant volume recoveries were reported in several companies after the second half of 2020 on the back of improved access to foreign currency and the benefits of a relatively stable exchange rate.

"The company will continue to defend its capital base and achieve modest profitability under the circumstances.

"However, all this is dependent on the unknown and unprecedented Covid-19- related risks and the resultant trading environment," Dube said in a statement accompanying Delta's financial results.

Although agro-based firm TSL saw its profits dip by 37% to $378,4 million in the financial year ending October 31 2020--from $709 million in 2019 - the group declared a final dividend of $0,28 per share.

TSL company secretary James Muchando said the payment of the dividend would take place on or about April 30 2021.

He added that the shares of the company would be traded cum-dividend up to the market day of April 13 2021 and ex-dividend as from April 14 2021.

He said the company's share register would be closed for the period April 14 to 17 2021.

Last month, the diversified blue chip Axia Corporation Limited said while it was re-investing most of its free funds into its bedding and lounge suite manufacturing businesses to significantly increase the manufacturing capacity as a way to meet available demand, it would be paying out a 24,5 cents dividend to shareholders for the half year to December 31, 2020.

"The board has also declared an interim dividend totalling $6,2 million to the Axia Employee Share Trust (Private) Limited," it said.

This followed the declaration of 50 cents per share by African Distillers for the half year ended December 31 2020.

Mobile phone giant Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has declared an interim dividend of 40 cents per share for the year ending February 28 2021.

The National Foods Limited board said it had declared an interim dividend of 803,27 cents per share payable in respect of all ordinary shares of the company that will be payable to all the shareholders of the company registered at the close of business on April 9, 2021.

The most recent dividend payment follows a trend that was reported throughout 2020, which saw several firms paying shareholders despite the difficult year.

Zimbabwe's largest financial services group by asset base, CBZ Holdings, proposed the declaration of an interim dividend of $350 million, or 67,05 cents per share, for the half year ended June 2020.

This was after the bank recorded a handsome $1,8 billion profit in the period under review.

"This declaration translates to a growth of 6 244,3% on the comparative 2019 interim dividend," the bank's chairman, Mark Holtzman, said.

Diversified concern Innscor Africa declared a final dividend of $1 per share, payable in respect of all ordinary shares of the company, bringing the total dividend for the year to $1,14 in respect of the financial year ended June 30 2020.

The group, which made a $3,6 billion profit, also declared a final annual dividend totalling $28,2 million to the Innscor Africa Employee Share Trust (Private) Limited.

"The Innscor Africa Employee Share Trust continues to support all qualifying beneficiaries with both dividend flow and access to various loan schemes," said Innscor chairman Addington Chinake.

Several firms also declared dividends.

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