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There are some companies that burst onto the scene with mighty fanfare, looking like sure-fire winners from day one, full of sound and fury and, with a bit of luck, signifying great returns to their shareholders over time.

Others take a more low-key approach, skulking in the muddy depths until eventually the market wakes up and spots the fact that they’ve grown a substantial business over time.

EOH is a great example of a skulker: easy to overlook until you spot that it has grown to be the largest technology services provider in SA.

Perhaps this has something to do with the nature of its offering, which is a little more obscure than that of many a business. Offering high-value, end-to-end solutions to clients in all industry verticals may well be absolutely fundamental to the success of its clients, but it can also have the effect of making a civilian’s eyes glaze over, and that’s before anybody even starts to mention cloud services. However, what nobody can argue with is a compound annual growth rate of 45% since it listed in 1998.

With 11,500 staff members, more than 134 points of presence in SA and operations in more than 50 other countries, it has become a truly substantial operation.

Sales in SA account for 86% of its total revenue, but it is committed to expanding aggressively, both organically and by acquisition. It is looking to develop new solutions, to enter new lines of business and to continue to refine its offerings to remain ahead of the pack in a fast-changing and fluid business environment.

Vital numbers on September 19 2016

Share price (R)154.00
Market cap (Rbn)21.68
P:e ratio21.42
Earnings yield (%)4.67
Dividend yield (%)1.20




Meanwhile, at the other end of the corporate lifecycle, you find Delta EMD, which is still waiting for somebody merciful to come along and apply the captive bullet. The company was founded in 1919 and succumbed to the curse of the nervous 1990s, announcing its decision to discontinue operations back in early 2014.

Ever since, it has been treating us to the sort of extended death scene beloved of amateur dramatists the world over, and its latest results tell the story of its ongoing attempt to hoist the white flag one last time.

The company has managed to sell off the plant and equipment formerly located at its Nelspruit site, and it continues to market the site with a view to delisting and deregistering the company, distributing what’s left in the coffers and finally saying sayonara once the site is sold.

This is subject to fulfilling the demands of the department of environmental affairs with respect to the remediation of the site.

In happier days, Delta EMD used to produce electrolytic manganese dioxide, which it supplied on the global alkaline battery market to the likes of Duracell. It is, of course, very much part of the natural business cycle that just as whole new industries pop up overnight, other less favourably positioned niches will find that their raison d’être disappears and there is nothing for it but to accept the inevitable and apply their capital to something more profitable. As Delta EMD is demonstrating, however, that process can be considerably consumptive of time and energy before it can all finally be put to bed.

Vital numbers on September 19 2016

Share price (c)98
Market cap (Rm)48.18
P:e ratio
Earnings yield (%)-95.83
Dividend yield (%)102.04