Wednesday, January 19, 2011

De Beers’ Diamond Sales Rose 48% Last Year, Rapaport Estimates

De Beers, a unit of Anglo American Plc, probably raised rough-diamond sales by 48 percent last year as demand for luxury jewelry recovered, Rapaport USA Inc. said.

Sales may have climbed to $4.8 billion, while production probably rose 36 percent to 33.5 million carats, Rapaport said today in an e-mailed report. That compares with a $5 billion estimate from RBC Capital Markets on Dec. 14.

Russia’s ZAO Alrosa and De Beers, the world’s largest diamond producers, have benefited from price gains following a decline in output and anticipation that demand will outstrip supply. Global production slid 8.5 percent between 2005 and 2008, RBC said, before slumping 30 percent in 2009 as consumption tumbled after the world financial crisis.

The economic recovery has since prompted producers to ramp up output, which probably rose 9 percent last year to 136.5 million carats, according to New York-based Rapaport, the world’s main provider of diamond prices. U.S. consumers “did not completely lose their appetite to shop,” and China and India continued their “rampant growth,” it said.

Demand may rise about 20 percent annually in India and China, accounting for half of global growth in the next few years, De Beers said Nov. 8. Output at the Johannesburg-based company climbed to 15.4 million carats in the first half, while sales advanced to $2.6 billion.

Price Gains

Average prices of certified polished diamonds increased 10 percent in 2010 from a year earlier, while rough-diamond prices probably rose about 21 percent to end the year 90 percent above first-quarter 2009 levels, the weakest diamond-trading period of the recession, Rapaport said.

Alrosa’s sales advanced to $3.48 billion in 2010, the company said Jan. 17. That’s a 90 percent increase from a year earlier, according to Rapaport, which forecasts a 63 percent gain in BHP Billiton Ltd.’s diamond sales to $1.12 billion and a 50 percent increase in Rio Tinto Group’s to $676 million.

Alrosa was probably the largest producer last year after output expanded by 5 percent to 34.3 million carats, it said.

De Beers is scheduled to release sales figures for 2010 on Feb. 11. Lynette Gould, a London-based company spokeswoman, declined to comment on the report today.

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