DIVERSIFIED healthcare group Litha Healthcare on Thursday announced a 78% fall in headline earnings per share (HEPS) for the year to December 31, attributing the knock to the weakening rand and a slump in sales to the state.

Headline earnings per share fell to 6.8c, from 25.2c last year.

Unlike some of its rivals, which can offset some of the margin pressure wrought by a weakening rand with exports of locally made products, Litha’s sales are primarily confined to South Africa.

Private-sector medicine prices are controlled by the government, so companies like Litha have little scope to increase the price of their products to counter an increase in the cost of imported products when the rand weakens.

Litha saw sales of its forensic products to the government fall due to a delay in the issuing of a new tender, which had been expected last year. The tender was worth R33m to the company in 2011.

Litha said the company’s statement of financial position was not comparable with the previous year because it had deconsolidated its vaccine unit, Biovac, in June, and had since then accounted for it as a joint venture.

Revenue fell to R1.47bn, down from R1.78bn the previous year, while profit for the period rose to R197m, up from R104m the year before.