Blackout blues: How some companies are thriving in SA’s energy crisis

South Africa’s energy crisis has created a significant negative impact on businesses, leading to a loss of billions every month. Nevertheless, some companies have profited from the frequent blackouts. Restaurants and fast-food outlets have seen an increase in revenue as people opt for easier options, and companies that sell, install, and maintain alternative energy products are thriving. Among these companies is Reunert, a cabling company that established a renewable energy unit to provide solar-related services. Spur, a restaurant chain that invested heavily in generators for its restaurants, also benefited significantly from the energy crisis. The article highlights potential investment opportunities on the JSE related to such companies. Read more below.


Two South African companies that benefit from load-shedding

By Bianke Neethling

South Africa’s energy crisis has devastated many South African businesses, costing the economy billions each month. However, a few companies are net beneficiaries of blackouts.

In 2023, South Africa experienced load-shedding every day, with stage 4 and stage 6 power cuts becoming commonplace.

Businesses without alternative energy sources stop operating during load-shedding, which hurts their revenue and costs jobs.

However, a small group of companies benefit from Eskom’s problems and unstable power supply.

Companies which sell, install, and maintain alternative energy products are booming and are struggling to keep up with demand.

Another group which has seen its revenue increase are restaurants and fast-food outlets. When people are load-shed, they cannot cook and opt for easier options.

It raises the question of whether there are investment opportunities on the JSE related to companies which are benefitting from load-shedding.

Analysts highlighted two companies to consider – Reunert and Spur.

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Reunert

A fully off-grid SolarEPC 350kW solar installation for a business

When it noticed a gap in the market created by load-shedding, cabling company Reunert flipped its business model around to establish itself as a leading renewable energy force in the market.

The company’s main business has always been cabling, even providing cabling to Eskom.

Reunert CEO Alan Dickson told Business Day TV that they saw how load-shedding was increasing interest and demand in the solar market and wanted to capitalise on this growth.

“This is a market that is going to continue to grow very strongly,” he said.

Reunert started a renewable energy unit that provides solar-related services, including solar generation, renewable storage, energy control and wheeling opportunities.

Reunert sells and installs solar panels, offers solar energy storage solutions, provides an energy control management system and facilitates its customers’ excess energy.

Dickson said the services’ profit margins vary considerably, allowing the company to be more robust and establish sustainable margins.

Renewable energy could also boost the company’s cabling services. As renewable energy increases and options become available to wheel the excess energy over the grid, more cables will be needed.

Dickson said commitment to long-term electrical infrastructure investment is what the country needs.

This strategy has worked well for Reunert, with the company’s share price gaining 22.53% over the past year.

Despite this jump, shares in the company are still relatively cheap at a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of under 12.

Read more: Overwhelmed by loadshedding solutions? Electrical engineers offer simplified guide to alternative power systems

Spur

Spur in Port Elizabeth (Gqeberha). Photograph: Jurie Maree/Shutterstock.com

Restaurant chain Spur has also reaped the benefits of the country’s energy crisis, partly because it invested heavily in generators for around 90% of its restaurants.

While this investment increased operating costs and ate into the company’s profit margins, it still largely worked in Spur’s favour, as its restaurants could draw customers during load-shedding.

Speaking on Moneyweb Now with Simon Brown, FNB’s head of investment, Chantal Marx said Spur is a different business than what it was ten years ago.

Spur’s most recent interim results reported a 183% increase in profit after tax, and this growth can largely be attributed to an increased demand for restaurants and fast food during load-shedding, said Marx.

She said the company shows evidence of long-term, above-average growth, making it an attractive option for value investors looking for undervalued stocks to hold in the long term.

The company still trades at low multiples. At the time of writing, Spur has a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of under 12.

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This article was first published by Daily Investor and is republished with permission.

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