Every six months, whether it needs to or not, South African international oil company Sasol
Net income for the six-month period was 7.98 billion rand, or about U.S.$1.1 billion, up 9.2% from the 7.31 rand reported in the year-ago period. Revenues -- or "turnover" in the company's accounting vernacular -- rose 21.5% to 37.6 billion rand, and its operating profit climbed 12.1% to 12.2 billion rand (US$1.66 billion).
Sasol is an amazingly diversified company, as international energy operators go. Like any conventional oil and gas company, Sasol owns interests in areas such as the Temane and Pande fields of Mozambique. In addition, it operates conventional refineries in South Africa and markets its products through a chain of retail service centers.
In fact, as the company noted in releasing its results, "Pleasing progress in retail expansion under the Sasol and Exel brands is being made, and our market objectives have been met." Indeed, as my Foolish colleague Rich Smith noted last week in previewing the company's results, there is something strikingly pleasant about Sasol's phraseology. I even find myself preferring the concept of "turnover" to our own synonym "revenue."
Furthermore, the company produces and markets chemicals and synthetic fuels. For example, it produces syngas from natural gas and low-grade coal, and it converts syngas into a variety of synthetic fuel components, industrial pipeline gas, and chemical feedstocks. In Qatar, the company operates an international gas-to-liquids venture in partnership with Qatar petroleum.
Fools, I must admit that the more I look at Sasol's financial progress and its mix of businesses, the more intrigued I become with the company. Because of that mix, determining appropriate comparatives for Sasol is not a walk in the park. Nevertheless, I might compare it in a very general sense to Canada's Suncor Energy
As many Fools now know, worldwide crude oil production capability will require vast increases over the next couple of decades. Increased production of synthetic fuels can help alleviate that need, and Sasol is actively engaged in such operations.
At the same time, the company trades at a forward P/E of just more than 7.5, and its enterprise value divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) is just 6.3. Finally, its return on equity over the past 12 months has approached 26%.
As such, and while its share price has dipped about 12% over the past year -- it's an energy company, after all -- I'd urge Fools to carefully monitor Sasol, an intriguing energy and chemicals producer. If nothing else, I'll bet you haven't paid much attention to it in the past.
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