Agriculture concern, Ariston Holdings Limited temporarily joined the $1 billion market capitalisation club on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, following a persistent bull run since beginning of the year.
Although not among the heavy caps — the Top 10 Index, Ariston joined other companies whose worth is over $1 billion.
Closing at $1,008 billion on Wednesday before coming off due to profit taking, Ariston became one of the Top 15 counters on the local bourse.
Since beginning of the year, Ariston has jumped 224 percent to 61,95 cents, as at close of Wednesday session, a growth that is ahead of the Top 15 Index YTD gains of 120 percent.
Among the market’s to cap counters are Delta, which is the biggest valued at $10 billion followed by Econet, Cassava, Innscor, Padenga and Old Mutual that are worth $8,7 billion, $8,6 billion, $3,9 billion, $3,4 billion and $2,9 billion in that order.
By close of Wednesday’s trading, retail giant, OK Zimbabwe and diversified hospitality group, Meikles were valued at $2,8 billion and $2,1 billion respectively, while Simbisa, BAT, NatFoods and Seed Co International were valued at $2 billion, $1,3 billion, $1,2 billion and $1,1 billion in that order.
For its FY2020, Ariston has indicated it will upscale its tea production and processing activities with the installation of additional processing plants for two of its three tea growing Estates.
The agriculture concern is also into production of macadamia nuts, bananas, potatoes, avocados, tomatoes and other fruit and vegetable produce, which are mainly export oriented, while a small volume is sold locally.
With no clear solutions to problems affecting the economy and threatening the viability of companies, market watchers expect exporters and other companies with exposure to foreign currency to stand the economic heat.
Their ability to generate the much needed foreign currency at a time it is very limited in the country increases their allure. Ariston, together with the likes of Padenga, Simbisa, RioZim, Bindura and Seed Co International are among the top picks.
Currently over 65 percent of Ariston teas are exported primarily to Europe, USA and increasingly to India and Africa.
Ariston, which is one of the country’s top tea producers, already has a state-of-the-art tea harvesting and processing equipment at its flagship producer— Southdown Estate, which should enhance its efficiencies as well as product quality for the export market.
The firm operates other tea estates — Clearwater and Roscommon.
“Two of the group’s three tea growing estates will have new tea processing plants in the current year. This will improve production efficiencies, whilst reducing overhead costs and improving quality.
“The last new tea processing plant will be paid for and installed by July 2020,” said Ariston in a statement accompanying the group’s first quarter trading update.
Further to the new installations, the group expect to see improved average prices as well as enhanced export quality on macadamia after the macadamia drying facility’s installed capacity was doubled during the period under review.
The facility will see the group meeting international buyers’ specifications.
“The macadamia drying facility installed in 2017 was doubled in capacity in the current period and will be available for use on the current year harvest.
“This will enable the group to further improve on its average selling prices for macadamia as its production would be able to be processed in the plant, where the high specifications required by International buyers will be achieved,” said the group.
At 800 000 kilograms achieved during the first quarter, production was slightly the same prior year period’s 850 000 kilograms on the back of the dry spell and erratic power supplies experienced.
The fruit category’s production volumes in the quarter amounted to 700 000 kilograms although slightly lower than prior year’s 750 000 kilograms as harvesting of fruits in the first quarter was deliberately delayed “so as to have less product in stock during the festive period as sales tend to be depressed.”