22 Jul 2020

Petrol pump pressure dries Z Energy tanks

4:45 pm on 22 July 2020

The country's biggest fuel retailer is looking to save more costs as it battles a sharp fall in sales.

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Photo: RNZ

The company is forecasting its first half earnings to be about half of last year.

Z Energy's quarterly update shows an adjusted loss of $15 million for the three months ended June.

Chief executive Mike Bennetts said despite the tough market conditions, the outlook was positive.

"Z has responded to the significant drop in volume due to the Covid-related lockdown and is executing well as the domestic economy gets back to normal.

"Assuming no reversion to more restrictive lockdown levels, the better than expected start to the year provides confidence around Z's performance for the rest of the financial year."

Assuming conditions remained stable, the company expected earnings for the first six months between $85m and 100m, compared with last year's first half $182m.

Demand for fuel hit historic lows during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Over the quarter, volumes sunk by 39 percent on the period prior, and revenue was down 53 percent.

The company moved quickly to improve cashflow, raising $350m dollars through the sale of new shares, scrapping its final dividend payout and cutting capital expenditure.

A slump in oil prices further took their toll with excess fuel being sold back to the world market at a loss.

Bennetts said it was also on track to save $48m through its structural operations and it would save an extra $26m through one-off reductions.

Meanwhile, Refining NZ data showed demand for refined fuel began to pick up from April and at the end of the quarter gasoline and diesel demand had returned to about 95 percent of prior levels.

Jet fuel demand remained low at 35 percent.

Production has been on standby since the start of the month but will begin again in mid-August and continue to the end of October at a reduced capacity.

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