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Weekly overview and short-term outlook to Wednesday 13 March 2019

Weekly overview and short-term outlook to Wednesday 13 March 2019

Visual: Forecast map of Relative Humidity at 500 mB for Saturday 09 March 2019

Source: NOAA, National Centre for Environmental Prediction, www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/international/cpci/data/12/gfs_500mb_rh_safrica.html

Recent Developments

The visual for this week is a rather complex forecast of Relative Humidity at a very specific elevation, the so-called 500 mB surface, or about 18,000 feet aloft.

This is a representative layer to determine Namibian rainfall prospects. Typically in summer, the cloud base would be around 12,000 feet with the cloud tops going to about 25,000 feet in mild weather, and to about 35,000 feet under more convective (unstable) conditions. Thus, at 18,000 feet one has an inferred view of what happens closer to the ground as well as what can be expected higher up.

Conditions this week departed noticeably from last week’s prevailing picture. Early in the week, the signature (low pressure) trough from southern Angola through the Namibian interior started developing slowly, witnessed first by intermittent cloud formation, then building in extent, both horizontal and vertical, until Wednesday when about 65% of Namibia’s surface east of the escarpment was covered in cloud systems one way or another.

As can be expected, this produced relatively good falls, ranging from 20 to 25 mm in the Kavangos, to about 15 mm in Owambo and the same in the Caprivi. But the falls were still very isolated, sporadic and of short duration.

Further south, the same pattern was repeated but with lesser amounts measured. From Tsumeb to Windhoek most reports indicate falls of between 5 and 10 mm, and in and around Windhoek, between 2 and 5 mm. From the southern half, the only observation was scattered drops, or “stofnat.”

By Thursday, although a broad blanket of cloud developed over the northern, central and eastern regions, rainfall prospects actually deteriorated for the country as a whole. Various satellite images show the presence of the trough and the strong division between west and east of the convergence zone.

The reason for the disappointing precipitation despite the good cloud cover, is what the visual shows. At that level where cloud formation is critical, the relative humidity is low, and with suppressed convection, it remains low even at higher altitudes. There is ample water vapour in the middle levels but restricted to the trough and mostly east of the convergence line. Where the visual shows blue, convection is enhanced and the chances for rain on the surface are good, but where it is green to dark yellow, conditions are poor, and usually only a few drops reach the ground.

This picture has been all too familiar this season.

On the Radar

A strong low pressure system develops over the Western Cape over the weekend, and stay there until about Tuesday. This acts like a vacuum pump drawing in air from the north-east. It also boosts north to south airflow over the Namibian interior, which may lead to some surprisingly strong falls, but only “in places” as the weather service is fond of saying.

The South Atlantic high pressure cell with an abnormally high seasonal reading of 1032 mB approaches the west coast during Saturday and will lead to much cooler conditions in the Karas region, possibly as far north as Rehoboth or even Windhoek. It will also be windy in the southern regions, and very dusty in the southern Namib.

By Monday, the trough over the interior migrates to the east, taking the rain with it. Only the north-eastern quadrant is expected to see some rain.

For the time being, the “thick” atmosphere of early this week, recedes a little, bringing relief from the very hot afternoons. Rainfall prospects are negative, almost for the whole country until Wednesday. The only exception is a narrow strip in Otjozondjupa along the Botswana border.

In general, both daytime and nighttime temperatures will be lower, on average by about 5°C.

The synoptic feature to watch is the expected tropical depression in the Mozambican Channel. It will not have an effect by Wednesday but it can produce sudden changes in the weather pattern later next week.


 

About The Author

Sanlam 2018 Annual Results

7 March 2019

 

Sanlam’s 2018 annual results provides testimony to its resilience amid challenging operating conditions and negative investment markets

Sanlam today announced its operational results for the 12 months ended 31 December 2018. The Group made significant progress in strategic execution during 2018. This included the acquisition of the remaining 53% stake in SAHAM Finances, the largest transaction concluded in the Group’s 100-year history, and the approval by Sanlam shareholders of a package of Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) transactions that will position the Group well for accelerated growth in its South African home market.

Operational results for 2018 included 14% growth in the value of new life insurance business (VNB) on a consistent economic basis and more than R2 billion in positive experience variances, testimony to Sanlam’s resilience in difficult times.

The Group relies on its federal operating model and diversified profile in dealing with the challenging operating environment, negative investment markets and volatile currencies. Management continues to focus on growing existing operations and extracting value from recent corporate transactions to drive enhanced future growth.

The negative investment market returns and higher interest rates in a number of markets where the Group operates had a negative impact on growth in operating earnings and some other key performance indicators. This was aggravated by weak economic growth in South Africa and Namibia and internal currency devaluations in Angola, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Substantial growth in Santam’s operating earnings (net result from financial services) and satisfactory growth by Sanlam Emerging Markets (SEM) and Sanlam Corporate offset softer contributions from Sanlam Personal Finance (SPF) and Sanlam Investment Group (SIG).

Key features of the 2018 annual results include:

Net result from financial services increased by 4% compared to the same period in 2017;

Net value of new covered business up 8% to R2 billion (up 14% on a consistent economic basis);

Net fund inflows of R42 billion compared to R37 billion in 2017;

Adjusted Return on Group Equity Value per share of 19.4% exceeded the target of 13.0%; and

Dividend per share of 312 cents, up 8%.

Sanlam Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ian Kirk said: “We are satisfied with our performance in a challenging operating environment. We will continue to focus on managing operations prudently and diligently executing on our strategy to deliver sustainable value to all our stakeholders. The integration of SAHAM Finances is progressing well. In addition, Sanlam shareholders approved the package of B-BBEE transactions, including an equity raising, at the extraordinary general meeting held on 12 December 2018. Our plan to implement these transactions this year remains on track.”

Sanlam Personal Finance (SPF) net result from financial services declined by 5%, largely due to the impact of new growth initiatives and dampened market conditions. Excluding the new initiatives, SPF’s contribution was 1% down on 2017 due to the major impact that the weak equity market performance in South Africa had on fund-based fee income.

SPF’s new business sales increased by 4%, an overall satisfactory result under challenging conditions. Sanlam Sky’s new business increased by an exceptional 71%. Strong growth of 13% in the traditional individual life channel was augmented by the Capitec Bank credit life new business recognised in the first half of 2018, and strong demand for the new Capitec Bank funeral product. The Recurring premium and Strategic Business Development business units also achieved strong growth of 20%, supported by the acquisition of BrightRock in 2017. Glacier new business grew marginally by 1%. Primary sales onto the Linked Investment Service Provider (LISP) platform improved by 5%, an acceptable result given the pressure on investor confidence in the mass affluent market. This was however, offset by lower sales of wrap funds and traditional life products.

The strong growth in new business volumes at Sanlam Sky had a major positive effect on SPF’s VNB growth, which increased by 7% (14% on a comparable basis).

Sanlam Emerging Markets (SEM) grew its net result from financial services by 14%. Excluding the impact of corporate activity, earnings were marginally up on 2017 (up 8% excluding the increased new business strain).

New business volumes at SEM increased by 20%. Namibia performed well, increasing new business volumes by 22% despite weak economic conditions. Both life and investment new business grew strongly. Botswana underperformed with the main detractor from new business growth being the investment line of business, which declined by 24%. This line of business is historically more volatile in nature.

The new business growth in the Rest of Africa portfolio was 68% largely due to corporate activity relating to SAHAM Finances, with the East Africa portfolio underperforming.

The Indian insurance businesses continued to perform well, achieving double-digit growth in both life and general insurance in local currency. The Malaysian businesses are finding some traction after a period of underperformance, increasing their overall new business contribution by 3%. New business production is not yet meeting expectations, but the mix of business improved at both businesses.

SEM’s VNB declined by 3% (up 6% on a consistent economic basis and excluding corporate activity). The relatively low growth on a comparable basis is largely attributable to the new business underperformance in East Africa.

Sanlam Investment Group’s (SIG) overall net result from financial services declined by 6%, attributable to lower performance fees at the third party asset manager in South Africa, administration costs incurred for system upgrades in the wealth management business and lower earnings from equity-backed financing transactions at Sanlam Specialised Finance. The other businesses did well to grow earnings, despite the pressure on funds under management due to lower investment markets.

New business volumes declined by 13% mainly due to market volatility and low investor confidence in South Africa. Institutional new inflows remained weak for the full year, while retail inflows also slowed down significantly after a more positive start to the year. The international businesses, UK, attracted strong new inflows (up 57%).

Sanlam Corporate’s net result from financial services increased by 4%, with the muted growth caused by a continuation of high group risk claims experience. Mortality and disability claims experience weakened further in the second half of the year, which is likely to require more rerating of premiums in 2019. The administration units turned profitable in 2018, a major achievement. The healthcare businesses reported satisfactory double-digit growth in earnings, while the Absa Consultants and Actuaries business made a pleasing contribution of R39 million.

New business volumes in life insurance more than doubled, reflecting an exceptional performance. Single premiums grew by 109%, while recurring premiums increased by a particularly satisfactory 56%.

The good growth in recurring and single premium business, combined with modelling improvements, supported a 64% (71% on a comparable economic basis) increase in the cluster’s VNB contribution.

Following a year of major catastrophe events in 2017, Santam experienced a relatively benign claims environment in 2018. Combined with acceptable growth in net earned premiums, it contributed to a 37% increase in gross result from financial services (41% after tax and non-controlling interest). The conventional insurance book achieved an underwriting margin of 9% in 2018 (6% in 2017).

As at 31 December 2018, discretionary capital amounted to a negative R3.7 billion before allowance for the planned B-BBEE share issuance. A number of capital management actions during 2018 affected the balance of available discretionary capital, including the US$1 billion (R13 billion) SAHAM Finances transaction. Cash proceeds from the B-BBEE share issuance will restore the discretionary capital portfolio to between R1 billion and R1.5 billion depending on the final issue price within the R74 to R86 price range approved by shareholders.

Looking forward, the Group said economic growth in South Africa would likely remain weak in the short to medium term future, and would continue to impact efforts to accelerate organic growth. The outlook for economic growth in other regions where the Group operates is more promising. Recent acquisitions such as the SAHAM transaction should also support operational performance going forward.

“We remain focused on executing our strategy. We are confident that we have the calibre of management and staff to prudently navigate the anticipated challenges going forward,” Mr Kirk concluded.

Details of the results for the 12 months ended 31 December 2018 are available at www.sanlam.com.