Editorial November 2017

The debate about benefits or shortcomings of demonitisation, implementation of GST is going on nationwide is a truly welcome sign. I am sure Indian economy would mature by these discussions and would move ahead with more zeal in coming days.

 

As regards metals industry, as long as the economic wheel is running with a reasonable speed, it will keep creating metals demand. Fortunately auto sale figures are impressive for the last few months, thanks to good monsoon which triggered the sale of tractors. This has positively impacted foundry sector and their capacity utilization has improved substantially. Also, they have started planning forward with great expectations from the future. Not only the casting units but the whole vertical as such is in vibrant state.

For the last few years, the demand for primary metals seemed to be stagnated but now it seems that the things have started moving. With metro rail projects in many cities, road building on fast track and also other infra projects the requirement of metals is going to increase manifold. The demand curve has started moving up a bit and this has made primary metal producers optimistic. Few have restarted their expansion plans and the industry sentiment has improved considerably.

Amongst all these happenings, there is one distinct good news for India. World bank monitors a parameter called ‘Ease of doing business’. Till now India ranked 142 on a global level but now her position jumped to 100. It’s a really huge leap, probably the biggest one in one year for any country.  For the last few years, India was seen as one of the fastest growing economy and many overseas companies were eyeing on her huge marketplace and wanted to participate in this growing economy. Now with improved ease of doing business in India, I hope there will be more inflow of not only companies but also the investment from international financial institutions which is very vital for building a solid infrastructure in the country.

I would not like to take any side on demonitisation or GST implementation but I strongly feel that India is changing, and changing for better !

 

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Editorial October 2017

The Indian metals sector seems to be in somewhat better shape now. Last few years were particularly challenging for everybody as demand seemed stagnated coupled with raw material crisis. Now, if you look at the quarterly reports of major metal companies, they have started increasing the production. Today, their position is comparatively better than the last year. Atleast they can expect a gradual rise in the demand in coming months. The raw material crisis is also mostly resolved and the availability of ore, coal has improved substantially. Many experts prefer to describe such a situation ‘new normal’ instead of ‘recession’. No, its not only word play. What it means is that now one has to get used to such industry environment where making profits may not be as easy as it was before. One has to be really innovative and articulate to do so. This situation is not a temporary passing phase but a long term reality.

The world around us is changing very fast. Our industry too is feeling the heat and will be undergoing a tremendous transformation in coming years. This transformation is multi dimensional. The technologies like 3D printing are going to re define the auto industry while technologies like robotics, cloud computing, virtual reality, augmented reality are going to completely change the way businesses are being done. I am very sure that many giants of today will face a tough time tomorrow and few of them will even perform a vanishing trick. New business models will emerge. We know today that the biggest taxi company in the world does not own a single vehicle. It were mobile companies which saw the downfall of music and camera companies. In today’s time, one should expect the most unexpected to happen. Auto industry is really heading towards a big transition and as a natural consequence, auto component industry, foundry industry is bound to undergo a huge churning.

Most of the Indian metal business houses are under tremendous finance pressure and few of them are looking for buyers, investors etc. Many companies want to expand the capacity and tap the additional demand expected to be generated but lack the support of financial institutions. Already, there is a talk of mergers, acquisitions and re-structuring of the industry. Looking at all this, I definately see a big fundamental change just round the corner !

 

Editorial September 2017

For the last few years, global metals sector is passing through a rough period and the same is true for India.

On a global level, demand stagnation is the major concern. The developed countries and regions have already reached a plateau as far as infrastructure development is concerned. Thus their metal appetite is naturally low. In other parts of the world like Asian region, availability of raw materials, availability of finance coupled with demand stagnation is the issue.

In Indian context, for the last few years demand stagnation along with raw material crisis has restricted the growth of metal sector. It has also affected vital numbers like demand growth, bottomline, capacity utilization etc. All this resulted in value erosion and placing many companies in the red.

Now the situation has started tilting towards positivity and there seems a slight increase in the demand, a huge increase in industry sentiment due to good monsoon in most of the parts and some forward planning too. Nobody doubted India’s growth potential on a long term basis but till now the ground reality was not supporting this thought line. Now with slight increase in demand and somewhat better performance of metal companies, there is a huge optimism in the industry.

Unfortunately financial institutions have a different take on this. As per them, they have invested very big capital in the metals sector out of which substantial part has become or on the verge of becoming NPA. Further, metals industry is subjected to cyclic ups and downs which are very difficult to absorb. Lastly, even in best of the times, the margins of the industry are not so attractive when compared to other verticals like IT, Biotech etc. Thus it is very difficult to support this industry beyond a certain point.

In such a situation when the industry is looking up and needs capital for further capacity expansion, we have to find some solution bringing all the stakeholders together. It’s a huge task and requires support from every corner, the most important being from financial institutions !

Editorial August 2017

Dear Readers,

Metals industry continues to have challenging times in most parts on a global level. Eurozone continues to be stagnated, Middle East region showed a little forward movement when oil prices started moving up but now with oil prices steady at a lower level than expected, the industry and the economy in ME region seems to be halted. South East Asian countries are again witnessing a tough time. Their economies have great influence of their Chinese counterpart and now they are exposed to a dynamically changing policy situation. As we all know, now for last so many years, the key player in metals sector is China. In global steel industry, material availability, pricing and other parameters are being greatly influenced (if not decided) by Chinese industry. In this global fluid situation, India seems to be better poised to attract investor’s attention because of its steady economic growth.

Indian metals sector has also gone through a very challenging time for the last few years. They have seen shortage of vital inputs like ore, coal etc, closure of mining activity by the supreme court orders, continues demand stagnation etc. But now the situation is changing, though slowly but definitely. The demand seems to have started climbing up. This may be due to forward movement of mega infra projects in the country. This will boost construction activity and in turn help the products like aluminium extrusions, wires etc. Also, better road condition is facilitating auto industry growth which in turn helps castings demand to grow. Fortunately this year monsoon is quite satisfactory in most of the regions in the country. This will have a direct, positive and immediate impact on agro equipments sector, tractor sale etc. Further, good crops will increase the purchasing power of the common man whereby helping the economic wheel to move faster. This will obviously help the metals sector to grow. It is expected that the introduction of GST will bring many business transactions in the mainstream economy and will support the growth of GDP.

Overall, I feel the metals sector will make some lost ground in coming months and as such the fiscal 2018-19 will be a better one than 2017-18.

Editorial July 2017

Last few years were quite challenging for the metals industry. On one hand the demand did not rise up to the expectations and on the other hand, the cost of vital inputs was on the rise. Most of the developed world countries are going through an economic slow down and this suppressed the growth of the industry too. Many infrastructure projects were on hold due to liquidity crunch. As we all know, infrastructure and the construction together give the biggest trigger to the metals demand. Thus this situation results naturally in lower metal demand.

Indian story is slightly different. India too had its share of challenging days but fortunately the Indian economy showed up a comparatively good performance and this naturally helped various industry verticals including that of metals. Secondly, the Indian auto industry did fairly well in these testing years which helped foundry sector to survive. Actually, lot of foundries expanded their capacities in anticipation of good export opportunities to European countries but this thinking was proved wrong by the struggling economies of most of the countries in Eurozone. Today, most of the Indian foundries are aiming for domestic markets rather than exports.

Today, if an investor has to put his money, it is but natural that he will strongly consider Indian economy. Auto sector is progressing well, the speed of infrastructure development has also picked up to some extent, most of the raw material issues are sorted out and most importantly, majority of people believe that the Indian economy will continue to grow at a decent rate. Thus there is a strong reason to bait on India’s prospects. Further, introduction of GST will also have some added attraction about Indian economy. After initial teething problems, it is expected that the tax structure will be more simple, transparent and more industry friendly. In fact, from the last few months, the foreign direct investment (FDI) has already started scaling up in anticipation of GST regime.

I hope the positive sentiment in the industry continues and the metals industry in particular benefits from the economic progress and the infrastructure development.

Editorial June 2017

Dear Readers,
Metals industry is the backbone of any economy and their Mco-relation is quite direct and linear. This means that the fortune of metals sector depends on the general condition of the economy and is also a measure of health of any
economy.
When we say that western world economy has slowed down,
naturally its metals appetite has reduced resulting in lower metals
consumption as well as production. In Asian region, the
infrastructure building is the main agenda which requires huge
quantities of metals. This serves as a very big trigger for the regional
economy.
If we look at the famous economic curve, India is at the starting
point of the steep section of the curve whereas China is towards the
end of this section. This means that countries like China have
surpassed their best growth period and very soon their growth will be
plataued. On the other hand countries like India are about to enter
or just entered the fast growth period of the economy. The next one
or two decades are expected to witness a fast economic growth in
India and as mentioned earlier, it has a direct co-relation with the
iron & steel sector.
We all know that last 2/3 years were quite challenging for Indian
mills. Rise in input costs, stagnated demand, shrinking exports and
cheap imports had really destroyed the bottomline of many metal
companies. Now the raw material situation has gradually improved,
mega infra projects have started moving ahead and the metals
demand seems to have started increasing. All this has helped the
industry to stabilize and expect an upward transition in next few
months.
Of course, this does not mean that the Indian industry is free from
problems. Domestic demand stagnation, reducing export
opportunities and cheap imports are still shadowing the industry. A
lot of technological upgradation is required in many small and
medium scale units. If Indian products have to stand in the global
marketplace, they have to be of excellent quality. The concept of
quality also has to be upgraded. I know many metallurgical units
operating without a qualified metallurgist!

Posted in D.A.Chandekar’s Views | Leave a reply

Editorial November 2016

By the start of 21st century, it was clear that Asia would be the next growth engine of the world. By that time, the western countries had done tremendous progress in developing infrastructure in the form of roads, ports, airports, modern transport systems etc. For various reasons, Asian region was lagging behind on the above counts and this resulted in big infrastructure projects boom in the region. Naturally, this served as a big trigger for metals consumption and this industry was on the fast growth track. China was the leader in infrastructure growth as well as in metals.

All this was quite smooth and growing till western world meltdown in 2009. The developed countries got a big jolt and even Asian countries which were thickly associated with the developed countries, had to suffer. This was the time when China and India along with countries like Russia, Brazil (commonly termed as BRIC countries) were seen as the only growing economies and many western world companies started migrating to these countries. By this time, Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region was also seen as a fast growing one and with the huge investing ability, infrastructure projects boom started in this region too.

Gradually, China’s pace slowed down, Russia and Brazil got entrapped into their internal issues and India remained the only country which had the capacity to sustain a relatively decent growth rate (Presently around 7.5 %). Also, oil price crash had a big negative effect on the infra projects in MENA region, especially in Saudi Arabia. The region is facing an acute problem of liquidity and many projects are put on hold. The metal consumption growth was also arrested due to this.

We must understand that China and most of the economies in MENA region are investment oriented which means that the government is pumping money for the development projects. On the other hand, India’s economic growth is fueled by the domestic consumption. Many will agree that such economies are more stable, less prone to global tremors and thus more sustainable !