S.Africa stocks make marginal gains, Vodacom shines

Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:07am EST

* Top-40 adds 0.37 pct

* All-share ends 0.32 pct higher

* Vodacom hits record high during session

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 12 (Reuters) - South African stocks eked out slender gains on Monday as mobile phone group Vodacom's rise to a record high on solid results was countered by another sell-off in mining shares, which have been laid low by the violence and illegal strikes.

Vodacom, a unit of Britain's Vodafone, ended 5 percent higher at 116.39 rand after it reported a 22 percent rise in first-half profit due to strong data growth and a favourable tax change.

Its shares earlier hit a life-time peak of 116.99 rand.

"They have delivered more than people anticipated," said Reuben Beelders, a portfolio manager at Gryphon Asset Management in Cape Town.

Some investors have been worried that South Africa's dominant mobile carrier would be hurt by aggressive price cuts from unlisted rival Cell C.

"You've had a lot of negativity around the stock," Beelders said. "It's slightly better than expected, but I think some of the risk - the competitive risk - is being priced out."

The JSE Top-40 index added 0.37 percent to 33,244.66, getting the week off to a positive start after suffering its biggest weekly decline in more than a month. The broader All-share index ended 0.32 percent higher at 37,463.20.

The indices remain within striking distance of a record high reached last week.

Mining companies had another rough ride as police fired rubber bullets to disperse protesters at a chrome operation run by Xstrata, while world No. 1 platinum producer Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) failed to get thousands of workers on an illegal strike back on the job.

"We have seen selling again in the mining shares. The problems just continue to go on," said Ferdi Heyneke, portfolio manager at Afrifocus Securities.

Losers included Amplats, which shed 2.26 percent to a new year-low of 383.06 rand, and rival Impala Platinum, which lost 2.20 percent.

Gold shares also slipped despite a higher spot bullion price, underscoring the gloom around the entire mining industry.

South Africa's third-biggest gold producer, Harmony , led the bullion shares down as it dropped 2.40 percent.

There were 156 companies that gained in the session while 138 fell and 61 closed unchanged. (Reporting by Ed Stoddard and David Dolan; Editing by Ed Cropley)

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