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Diamond Jewelry Rough Sales Highlight De Beers’ Proper Planning

1990: Diamond Jewelry Rough Sales Will Improve Diamond Shareholders’ Value

September 1999

De Beers started its second half off with a bang, with what analysts are saying is a record-breaking sight of $710 to $715 million. This could be the Company’s largest ever, breaking even the January 1997 high of $700 million.

With demand in the U.S. increasing at an extraordinary rate, De Beers is assured of digging itself out of the 11-year low it reached in 1998. Even world-wide diamond jewelry sales are up 6%.

Not that things were so bad in the first half. In its newly released figures for the first half of 1999, De Beers – and the diamond industry – is seeing rough sales slowly moving back toward 1996-’97 levels. Although still short of 1996 by $3 million, first half sales of rough for 1999 were up from 1998 by 44% to $2.447 billion, according to the CSO.

On the bad news side, earnings were down 17% to a total $208 million from the 1998 $251 million for the same period, but with the interim dividend maintained for both U.S. and South African shareholders. The combined total net earnings were reported down to $326 million form the 1998 $336 million. Headline earnings were down 31% to $281 million compared with last year’s $405 million for the same six month period.

Directors Forecast: Sales to Remain High

The directors comment that the improved market is likely to continue into the second half, and the outlook for rough diamond sales remains good for the rest of the year. De Beers commenced a strategic review of all its operations at the beginning of 1999 and has identified a number of areas where operations and shareholder value can be improved and the review is now concentrating on planning the appropriate implementation processes.

De Beers reported its difficulties in South Africa with export of diamonds and stated that "discussions with the relevant authorities have continued for many months, but it is still not possible to indicate when regular exports will resume." (See article on the page six for more details.) But even here, the news isn’t bad; De Beers’ statement continued, "The CSO has lost no sales as a result of these delays, as diamonds have been available from non-South African sources to meet demand."



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