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De Beers beats forecasts
August 16, 2000: 4:28 a.m. ET

Diamond firm cuts stocks; says sales expected to slow in second half
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LONDON (CNNfn) - De Beers, the world's largest diamond marketer, posted better-than-expected profit for the first six months of the year Wednesday on strong sales.

Earnings excluding investment income, amortization, and special items totaled $877 million, or $2.19 per diluted share, for the first six months, up from $269 million, or 70 cents per share, in the year-earlier period. The latest per-share results beat the $1.55 per share consensus estimate of analysts polled by Reuters.

De Beers shares gained 1.1 percent in early trading in Johannesburg.

De Beer's sales unit, the Diamond Trading Company (DTC), posted first-half sales of $3.5 billion, while the company's diamond stockpile fell to $2.7 billion, from $4.0 billion at the end of 1999. The company said it "is close to achieving the target of reducing stocks to working stock levels."

Second-half sales are expected to slow.

"While consumer demand remains strong, no further restocking of the trade pipeline is anticipated and therefore sales by the DTC during the second half of 2000 will not match those of the first half," the company said.

Last week, De Beers announced it had acquired Canadian miner Winspear Diamonds in a $206 million deal. The South African firm has also launched a takeover bid for Australia's Ashton Mining.

The company, under international pressure for buying diamonds from war-torn regions of sub-Saharan Africa also said it "continues to be fully involved in the discussions with the United Nations, the United Kingdom and United States governments and other interested parties regarding diamonds from conflict areas in Africa." Back to top

-- from staff and wire reports


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