The Weekend Leader - Autocomp sector set for rebound after 2 tough fiscals

Autocomp sector set for rebound after 2 tough fiscals



The automotive components sector will see revenue rebound 21-23 per cent next fiscal as domestic and export demand revives after two straight contractions and higher margins lift its operating profits, ratings agency Crisil said on Friday.

Also, demand revival along with prudent capital spending and working capital management, will lead to an improvement in the credit profiles of automotive component makers next fiscal, an analysis of 230 of them rated by CRISIL, which account for 40 per cent of sector revenue, showed.

The Rs 3.2 lakh crore sector derives 60 per cent of its revenue from automobile original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), with the balance split equally between replacement demand and exports.

Hetal Gandhi, Director, CRISIL Research, said: "The ongoing rebound in economic activity will drive a strong recovery for OEMs next fiscal. Improving fleet utilisation and better availability of finance will also improve demand for commercial vehicles, while demand for personal vehicles (passenger cars and two-wheelers) will be driven by improving urban consumer sentiment, resilient rural incomes, modest vehicle price increases and attractive financing options."

The uptick in OEM demand will rub off on the automotive components sector, which could see a revenue growth of 21-23 per cent next fiscal, compared with de-growth of 13 per cent and 8 per cent in fiscals 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Replacement demand, which was impacted due to lockdowns and restricted movement of people and freight, will recover gradually. Besides, exports (20 per cent of revenue) will be aided by steady demand from the US and staggered recovery in the European Union - two geographies that account for 55 per cent of India's automotive component exports. Signs of the recovery have been visible here since the third quarter of this fiscal.

However, Crisil said that despite higher demand, capacity utilisation of component suppliers will remain below 2019 levels. As a result, operating margin will increase only 100-150 basis points (bps) to 10 per cent next fiscal, after falling 150 bps in fiscal 2020 and 200-250 bps in fiscal 2021. Consequently, operating profit will be lower than in fiscal 2019.

The credit ratio (ratio of upgrades to downgrades) for the CRISIL Ratings portfolio, which touched an eight-year low of 0.1 (April-December 2020) thus far this fiscal, is likely to witness steady improvement next fiscal, in line with better performance of the sector's players.

Rajeswari Karthigeyan, Associate Director, CRISIL Ratings, said: "Better operating performance, controlled capital spend - given that sufficient capacity is available - and prudent working capital management will support recovery in credit profiles of automotive-component suppliers next fiscal. Gearing of the sample set is expected to be comfortable at 0.7-0.8 time as on March 31, 2021, and improve further next fiscal. The interest cover ratio, too, is expected to recover to 4 times from 3 times."

As the impact of the pandemic wanes, the government's move to increase spending on infrastructure augurs well for the automobile sector and, in turn, for the automotive components makers.

Sustained improvement in consumer spending on automobiles will bear watching. - IANS

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