De Beers plans to raise diamond prices 5 percent every year, betting demand will help the world’s biggest miner of the precious stones meet parent Anglo American Plc’s target for returns.
“We know the long-term trend, we know demand is going to be bigger than supply,” Chief Executive Officer Philippe Mellier, 58, said in an interview at Bloomberg’s London office. “One of the objectives is more stable prices and to drive volatility out.”
Rough diamond prices gained about 10 percent this year after more than doubling in the past five as the U.S. economy recovered from the global financial crisis and China’s burgeoning middle class bought more of the gems. Anglo American, which owns 85 percent of De Beers, wants its units to deliver a 15 percent return on capital by 2016.
“We have a plan to get there,” Mellier said, adding De Beers returned 10 percent on capital last year. “My team is much focused. It’s our one objective, the objective.”
Diamonds made up about 19 percent of Anglo American’s $33 billion in 2013 sales. Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani, who replaced Cynthia Carroll last year, is reviewing projects from Australia to Brazil in pursuit of savings and cash-flow gains. Anglo rose 1.6 percent to 1,567.5 pence by the close in London.
De Beers predicts global diamond demand will grow 4 percent to 4.5 percent this year. The U.S. market, which accounts for about 37 percent, is forecast to gain in “high single digits” in 2014, while there is “good momentum” in the Chinese market, Mellier said.
He also expects a revival in India this year after a collapse in the rupee dented sales in 2013. The country’s share of global demand should increase to 10 percent from about 8 percent last year, Mellier said.