Cement demand seen up 10-12% this fiscal on infra spending: Crisil – ET Infra

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NEW DELHI: Cement demand is expected to grow 10-12% year-on-year to about 440 million tonnes in fiscal 2024, driven by strong offtake from the infrastructure segment, according to Crisil Ratings.

Combined with stable cement prices and softening power and fuel costs, operating profit of manufacturers is expected to recover by ~Rs 200 per tonne from a multi-year low of Rs 770 per tonne last fiscal.

This demand growth and margin rebound will spur cash accrual and keep credit profiles stable, according to the company’s research.

Government spending on infrastructure development, which accounts for ~30% of annual cement sales, will drive demand. The allocation in the Union Budget for core infrastructure sectors has shot up 38% on-year this fiscal, with actual spending substantially front-loaded. Till July 2023, spending was a robust 40% of the budget for this fiscal.

The housing segment, which accounts for ~55% of cement demand, is expected to see steady growth owing to healthy traction in rural housing and urban real estate execution. Continued government focus on affordable housing under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) will also support demand.

Koustav Mazumdar, associate director – Research, CRISIL Market Intelligence and Analytics, said, “Demand growth may moderate to 7-9% in the second half of this fiscal given the high base and as the central government capital expenditure could witness some slowdown with the general elections approaching. The delayed and uneven monsoon could cause some pullback in rural housing demand. Constrained availability of labour during the third quarter, as five states go into elections, will also play a role. However, a strong first half will support a robust double-digit growth this fiscal.”

Rising cement demand will aid revenue growth this fiscal as pan-India cement prices which dipped ~2.5% during April-August 2023 have seen a pullback recently.

Apart from steady realisations, manufacturers are expected to get a breather on the cost front after a challenging last fiscal. Prices of petcoke and imported non-coking coal — key fuel used for making cement — have slid 35-50% this fiscal through August from their last fiscal average.

Naveen Vaidyanathan, director, Crisil Ratings said, “Power and fuel costs, which constitute 30-35% of the total production cost, will follow the trend of falling petcoke and coal prices with a lag effect. For this fiscal, power and fuel costs are likely to be lower by Rs 200-250 per tonne on-year. This will improve per-tonne profitability4 to Rs 950-975 this fiscal, after the eight-year low of Rs 770 seen last fiscal.”

  • Published On Oct 5, 2023 at 07:38 AM IST

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