Sector and geographical diversity in our ranking are on the rise, as oil and gas keep a low profile and big sub-Saharan economies stall.   

Author: Maria Obiols

The composition of the ranking changed significantly this year; only eight of last year’s best-performing companies kept a place in the top 25. Competition at the top is high as the numbers of the smartest companies improve. The average solvency ratio increased by 2.6 percentage points to 75.4%. Average return on assets grew 4.8 points to 19.2%, and average profit margin increased 7.5 points to 34.5%.

Petrochemical and mining companies remain largely distanced from the top ranks, despite a nascent recovery in oil. That has brought greater diversity to the list. IT services, construction and civil engineering, transport and logistics, and wholesale and retail trade companies have an increasing presence among the top 25 this year, while hotels, restaurants and food-sector firms are scarcer, along with oil and mining.

Although growth started recovering in 2017, South Africa took a hit this year with only 9 companies, compared to 14 last year. The great beneficiary has been Egypt, which went from two companies represented last year to seven this year.

The geographic balance is likely to keep shifting as South Africa’s economy dwindles—in technical recession since the second quarter. John Ashbourne of Capital Economics says this year “the outlook is, again, very poor for the larger economies in Africa,” and while the worst seems to be over he still sees weak growth ahead.

Nigeria suffered a painful recession in 2016 and 2017, and its recovery is faltering. Ashbourne says growth should pick up in the coming months, but nevertheless, “with the country’s politicians gearing up for next year’s election ... there is very little chance of a real policy shift, so conditions will remain very weak.”

Prospects are better for smaller sub-Saharan economies. “Kenya is growing well, as are Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire,” Ashbourne says. “Ethiopia is also quite an exciting place at the moment.” The fastest-growing African economy in the last five years, according to the IMF, Ethiopia is gaining momentum. “The new prime minister has launched a faster and more ambitious reform program than we had expected,” says Ashbourne. “It is a very positive sign that the leadership is planning ahead.”

In northern Africa, Egypt’s growth is expected to pick up. A looser monetary policy and slower fiscal consolidation should bolster growth, and the Egyptian pound, devalued in 2016, should sustain exports. “Expectations for the agricultural sector are poor, but the rest of the sectors are performing well, and investment continues to pour into manufacturing,” says Jason Tuvey, analyst at Capital Economics. His firm’s outlook for Morocco is modest for 2018 and more positive further out, while Tunisia is more sluggish. Tourism seems to be recovering, but the balance of payments is a concern.

These highly changeable rankings illustrate the rapid pace of change in Africa. Market and geopolitical forces seem to be working toward increased diversity among the best-performing companies—and helping Africans move up the value chain, beyond raw materials.


Methodology

The 25 Best-Performing Public Companies in Africa ranking evaluates nonfi nancial companies on four measures: liquidity, solvency, return on assets and profit margin. We analyze the data for the top 350 companies by market capitalization.

Firms are given a score on each measure, and those fi gures are totaled to create an overall score. A low score on each measure is equated with best performance, and the company with the lowest overall score places highest in the ranking.


Best-Performing African Companies


Rank
Company
Country
Sector
Reporting Yr
Total Assets (US$)
Operating Revenue (US$)
Liquidity Ratio
Solvency Ratio (%)
Return on Assets (%)
Profit Margin (%)
Total Score
Market Cap ($US)

1

Alexandria Container And Cargo Handling Company S.A.E.

Egypt

Transport & logistics

2017

277,660

150,391

10.17

92.33

43.77

81.24

32

1,301,202

2

Rea Vipingo Plantations Limited

Kenya

Textiles, wearing apparel & leather

2016

41,346

40,553

7.60

82.85

33.62

41.36

70

16,728

3

Bauba Platinum Limited

South Africa

Metal & metal products

2017

23,164

17,557

4.40

89.54

18.43

58.49

77

17,584

4

Padenga Holdings Limited

Zimbabwe

Wholesale & retail trade

2017

84,742

32,495

7.19

72.81

15.36

50.37

119

3,520

5

Capital Appreciation LTD

South Africa

IT services

2017

124,006

44,812

13.40

94.60

9.71

37.60

125

114,715

6

Italtile Limited

South Africa

Wholesale & retail trade

2017

318,700

310,968

2.30

90.63

20.30

29.30

129

1,327,892

7

Silverbridge Holdings Limited

South Africa

IT services

2017

4,496

7,171

5.51

84.04

22.26

15.15

150

2,804

19

Compagnie Miniere De Touissit SA

Mauritania

Metals & metal products

2017

119,488

49,741

1.81

61.95

14.77

43.80

250

278,686

8

Isa Holdings Limited

South Africa

Media & entertainment

2017

9,637

9,060

2.58

76.49

18.74

26.56

152

16,218

9

African Media Entertainment Limited

South Africa

Media & entertainment

2016

23,074

17,975

2.22

75.38

15.88

32.21

169

28,341

10

Egyptian Transport & Commercial Services Co. Egytrans S.A.E. (The)

Egypt

Transport & logistics

2017

24,563

20,050

2.64

70.74

17.79

30.50

171

13,989

11

Egyptian International Pharmaceuticals Company S.A.E.

Egypt

Chemicals, rubber, plastics & non-metallic products

2017

189,515

142,936

1.74

75.35

19.44

35.62

175

527,317

12

Misr Duty Free Shops

Egypt

Wholesale & retail trade

2017

22,308

31,188

2.12

71.76

24.48

29.19

176

37,616

13

Cairo For Educational Services S.A.E.

Egypt

Education & Health

2017

5,672

2,305

2.50

72.02

12.17

38.80

186

5,137

14

Mr Price Group Limited

South Africa

Wholesale & retail trade

2017

671,636

1,456,129

2.29

75.48

25.38

16.19

195

4,339,404

15

Canal Shipping Agencies Co. S.A.E.

Egypt

Transport & logistics

2016

45,836

3,694

2.27

69.29

10.50

89.33

200

131,881

16

Associated Commercial Co LTD

Mauritania

Machinery, equipment, furniture & recycling

2017

11,861

12,912

5.31

85.47

12.77

13.15

203

5,066

17

Societe Des Brasseries Du Maroc

Mauritania

Food, beverages & tobacco

2017

277,192

260,005

2.07

67.36

15.55

24.18

229

899,139

18

Telnet Holding SA

Tunisia

IT services

2017

20,928

23,059

2.05

60.49

33.24

35.55

231

44,272

19

Compagnie Miniere De Touissit SA

Mauritania

Metals & metal products

2017

119,488

49,741

1.81

61.95

14.77

43.80

250

278,686

20

Mazor Group Limited

South Africa

Construction & civil engineering

2016

26,437

44,454

2.79

80.83

13.66

10.20

250

12,392

21

Automobile Reseau Tunisien Et Services SA

Tunisia

Wholesale & retail trade

2017

101,073

107,049

2.18

67.17

14.27

18.19

252

94,299

22

Development & Engineering Consultants Company S.A.E.

Tunisia

Construction & civil engineering

2017

41,091

26,033

1.19

73.39

17.13

48.08

256

13,852

23

Truworths International Limited

South Africa

Wholesale & retail trade

2017

1,235,526

1,415,431

3.87

58.55

17.52

21.18

258

2,750,053

24

Nation Media Group PLC

Kenya

Media & entertainment

2017

109,659

102,923

1.81

72.14

11.53

18.40

262

166,868

25

Euro-Cycles S.A.

Tunisia

Machinery, equipment, furniture & recycling

2017

27,815

35,066

1.64

64.40

22.76

19.49

270

72,698