Editorial: 2014 in numbers - which company's shares are worth 40 percent more?


Today is the 7th day of the New Year. From tomorrow onwards we should be looking forward only! Earlier, I already wrote that South African CFOs and FDs have never been in a stronger position to share knowledge, meet peers, learn from partners and network. And 2015 is going to be even bigger and better!

This week's 'must read' is our interview with Hollard Insurance CFO Brooks Mparutsa. His impressive career in the public and private sector has taken him all over the world.

Looking over our shoulder one last time, we have had a year of disappointing economic growth, worrying signals from rating agencies and a currency that has lost approximately 10 percent against the strong performing US dollar over 2014. It's anybody's guess what will happen next to the rand and you can't blame analysts for remaining vague over the immediate future of the currency.

In 2013 the currency already depreciated 20 percent, but as finance experts know this is not bad news for everyone. Companies with a lot of operations outside of the country benefit from a weaker rand, as do exporters who get more rand in their accounts for the same dollar price - or they can drop their dollar prices and become more competitive globally.

Over the course of 2014, the JSE's benchmark index gained 6 percent, not too bad considering the daily doom and gloom on the finance pages. Besides the depreciating rand, the uncertainty about economic policy and falling commodity prices have made investors pretty cautious. One of the outstanding companies on the JSE was Mr Price, which gained a whopping 40 percent. No wonder CFO Mark Blair is nominated for this year's CFO Awards!

African CFO appointments - which we faithfully track here - have been relatively quiet in the last few weeks, with the notable exception of the SABC. The broadcaster appointed CA James Aguma, who was already acting in the position since March, to Chief Financial Officer. We hope to see James soon during the meetings of the public chapter of CFO South Africa. Tanzanian Royalty Exploration Corp, a Canada-based mining company, named Marco Guidi as CFO, succeeding Steven van Tongeren.

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