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Signing AfCTA agreement; Our concerns for Nigeria by CSL Stockbrokers

Over the weekend, the president, as earlier announced, signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) agreement at an extraordinary summit of the African Union (AU) in Niger Republic.

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AfCFTA

Over the weekend, the president, as earlier announced, signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) agreement at an extraordinary summit of the African Union (AU) in Niger Republic. The signing comes one year after the presidency expressed unwillingness to give assent to the agreement due to concerns around the negative implications it could have on the domestic economy.

Admittedly, certain benefits may accrue to Nigeria from the trade deal, on a balance of factors however, the negatives greatly outweigh the positives. Although the presidency expressed readiness to put measures in place to mitigate the negative impacts on the Nigerian economy, we struggle to see how such mitigants can be enforced.

The AfCTA trade deal creates a borderless market for African products. Negotiations have been on since 2013 and a deal was finally drafted. 44 countries initially assented to the deal but membership has now increased to 54 countries. The agreement requires immediate removal of tariffs on 90% of goods while an additional 10% of goods classified as ”sensitive goods” would be negotiated on a later date.

Nigeria’s industrial development remains a far cry from the potential it carries, a condition which has been exacerbated by poor government policies on industrial and business growth.

[READ FURTHER: Analysis: Was Nigeria right for not signing the AfCFTA?]

In our opinion, signing the trade agreement introduces undue competition for local manufacturers who are struggling to achieve production efficiency and market reach. This may ultimately lead to a loss of local employment creation opportunities to other African countries who are making giant strides in industrial development.

While we believe operating a closed economy and encouraging trade protectionism is not conducive for continental growth, we are also of the view that local manufacturers still need some form of protection from external competitors who have more favourable operating environments in their respective countries.

AfCFTA

Buhari after signing AfCFTA

In addition, we are concerned about Nigeria becoming a dumping ground for low-quality foreign products as well as a further loss of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). Nigeria’s estimated population of c.200m remains one of the biggest attractions for foreign businesses.

However, Nigeria’s notoriously unfavourable operating environment has forced many investors to shut down operations in favour of other emerging African frontiers such as Ethiopia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Kenya and Mauritania.

However, this hasn’t doused interest in Nigeria’s populous market. We believe the AfCTA deal will provide opportunities for foreign manufacturers in those African countries to have better access to the Nigerian market without having to set up operations in Nigeria. With Asian and European companies setting up operations in other African countries, exporting goods to Nigeria might become easier with AfCTA, hence further weakening local industrial growth.

[KEEP READING: Will Dangote Flour continue rallying this week?]

Furthermore, we note that African leaders have a notorious history of reneging on trade agreements. The most notable that concerns Nigeria is the Ecowas Trade Labourisation Scheme (ETLS) which was more of a customs union arrangement designed to allow free movement of goods and labour among member countries.

Currently, several countries (such as Benin and Burkina Faso) have put in place bans on the importation of some commodities from African countries. A prominent example is these countries’ decision to import cement from faraway China than import from close by neighbour such as Nigeria.

While Nigeria’s exports to African countries represent about 21% of total exports as at Q1 2019 with potential to rise under the AfCTA agreement, we believe on a balance, imports (17% of total imports in Q1 2019) from other African countries would accelerate faster than exports which does not bode well for local producers.

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READ FURTHER: Alert: Nigeria ranks 3rd in Canada Express Entry invitations ratings 


CSL STOCKBROKERS LIMITED CSL Stockbrokers,

Member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange,

First City Plaza, 44 Marina,

PO Box 9117,

Lagos State,

NIGERIA.

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    NB Plc’s share price and dividends keeping shareholders happy

    It was not all hunky-dory for the company as its cost of sales jumped from N48.3 billion in Q1 2020 to N66 billion in Q1 2021.

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    Jordi Borrut Bel, Nigerian Breweries Plc

    Nigerian Breweries Plc (“NB Plc” or the “Company”) reported its first-quarter (Q1) 2021 results on April 23, 2021.

    The company’s performance was impressive considering the headwinds it faced late in 2020 and early 2021 from inflationary pressures, poor consumer purchasing power, lethargic economic growth, and increase in the company’s beer prices which took effect from Q4 2020.

    The company achieved a net revenue for the three months to March 31, 2021 of N105.68 billion compared to N83.23 billion for the same period to March 31, 2020 — a 27% increase compared to the Q1 2020 results.

    It also achieved a N39.67 billion gross profit — a 13.7% increase in gross profit compared to Q1 2020.

    Quarter-on-quarter EBITDA rose by 22.8% from N19.82 billion in Q1 2020 to N24.34 billion in Q1 2021. Other positive outcomes quarter on quarter were the increase in operating income (from N10.94 billion to N14.49 billion), profit before tax (from N8.3 billion to N11.51 billion), and profit after tax (from N5.53 billion to N7.66 billion).

    It was not all hunky-dory for the company as its cost of sales (direct costs attributable to NB Plc’s production) jumped from N48.3 billion in Q1 2020 to N66 billion in Q1 2021, an increase of N17.7 billion. According to the company, its costs are subject to seasonal fluctuations as a result of weather conditions and festivities. As a result, the company’s results and volumes are dependent on the performance in the peak‐selling season, typically resulting in higher revenue and profitability in the last quarter of the year.

    The total cost of sales, marketing and distribution, and administration expenses grew from N72.47 billion in Q1 2020 to N91.63 billion in Q1 2021 – a jump of 26.43%. This jump was largely attributable to the cost of raw materials and consumables which grew to N46.53 billion (compared to N30.2 billion for the same period in Q1 2020).

    The raw materials cost pressure has been a trend since Q2 2020 driven by the rising commodity prices, foreign exchange devaluation and domestic inflationary pressures. As a result, the cost of the raw materials to net income ratio has continued to rise. This ratio was 36.3% in Q1 2020 but has risen to 44% in Q1 2021.

    Hotflex

    What may be a source of particular concern for the company is how well working capital is being managed from a liquidity and leverage perspective. The company reported cash and cash equivalents of N30.37 billion in Q1 2020, this had dropped to N18.43 billion by Q1 2021. In the same period, trade debtors and other receivables (i.e., those that owe the company for purchases that have not been paid for) had increased from N11.42 billion in Q1 2020 to N23.48 billion in Q1 2021, an increase of over 105% in just 12 months!

    More worrying, in terms of magnitude, are trade creditors and other payables (i.e., those that the company owes payments for goods and services purchased) which grew from N139.2 billion in Q1 2020 to N145.41 billion in Q1 2021, a rise of N6.21 billion (or 4.5%) in just 12 months.

    While the company’s loans and borrowings had reduced significantly (short-term loans in Q1 2021 was N35.65 billion versus N39.64 billion in Q1 2020; and long-term loans in Q1 2021 was N15.87 billion versus N51,81 billion in Q1 2020), the cost of borrowing, that is, interest expenses that the company paid on borrowed funds, rose from N2.7 billion in Q1 2020 to N3 billion in Q1 2021. This suggests that while short term and long-term borrowing have reduced, working capital needs are being refinanced at a higher cost or alternatively, most of the reduced short term or long-term borrowings have simply been restructured from longer-term loans to shorter-term overdrafts and commercial papers with a higher interest expense. The balance sheet as of Q1 2021 showed a liability in the form of bank overdraft and/or commercial papers of N21.44 billion which was not in the books in Q1 2020.

    The first-quarter report also showed that as of March 31, 2021, the company had revolving credit facilities with five Nigerian banks to finance its working capital with the approved limit of the loan with each of the banks ranging from N6 billion to N15 billion (total N66 billion). N9 billion of the available amount was utilized at end of March 2021 (2020: Nil).

    It should be noted that NB Plc’s financial statements for the 3 months ended 31st March 2021 are yet to be independently audited, so the results may be further improved or be worse, depending on the views and professional opinion of the external auditors in terms of accounting treatments and management judgement on significant transactions.

    From the company’s numbers and explanations, the results are clearly driven by:

    (1) Benefits from its increased pricing with the raised prices taking effect from December 10, 2020. The increases ranged from 5.2% to 6%, mainly on selected brands packaged in aluminium cans and on the 600-ml Star Larger returnable glass bottle.

    Jaiz bank

    (2) Volume growth in its premium brands (particularly Heineken) and non-alcoholic portfolio (particularly Maltina).

    (3) Relative inelastic demand for its portfolio mix despite price increases, availability of substitutes, and stagnate consumer wages eroded by inflation. In economics, inelastic demand occurs when the demand for a product remains static or changes less than changes in price.

    Overall, the company achieved outstanding results that would have confounded analysts’ estimates. Given continued inflationary trends and currency depreciation, it would be interesting to see whether turnover and profitability growth are sustainable over the remaining quarters of the year. On its financial year 2020 performance, the company paid a final dividend of NGN0.69 in April 2021 (interim of NGN0.25 paid in December 2020). If the trend is sustained, it can only be good news for NB Plc in terms of increases in its share price and dividends for its shareholders.

    Heineken Brouwerijen B.V owns 37.73% of the company to which NB Plc pays annual technical service fees and royalties.

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    Dangote Cement is creating its own luck

    Not only was the company able to basically eliminate Nigeria’s dependence on imported cement, but it also made Nigeria an exporter of cement to other neighbouring nations.

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    Aliko Dangote rallies private sector operators against COVID-19, 10 fantastic things Aliko Dangote has done in the last 10 years

    The year 2020 came with good tidings for Dangote Cement Plc. Beyond commissioning its Onne Export Terminal in Port Harcourt and its gas power plant in Tanzania, the group bagged over a trillion in revenue—a 16% jump from its N892 billion turnover in the year 2019. The company also successfully carried out a bond issuance and buyback programme while increasing its capacity by 3 million tonnes in Nigeria. Group sales volumes were up by 8.6% to 25.7 million tonnes across both cement and clinker lines, and finance income increased by 292% to about N30 billion, culminating in a profit before tax of N373 billion. Not bad at all for a pandemic-stricken year. Interestingly, most of these didn’t come by chance; the company appears to be creating its own luck.

    READ: Dangote Cement considers debt funding options under 300 billion bond issuance programme

    Here’s how:

    Tighter Costs

    It is not uncommon to see companies significantly increase their administrative or marketing costs in a bid to attain higher turnover. If it is because they believe that there is a direct correlation between how much is spent on overheads or marketing and the increase in revenue, Dangote Cement has certainly proven them wrong. Administrative costs for the year 2020 remained comparatively the same as its 2019 figure and selling and distribution expenses were even marginally lower despite its higher revenue. Hence, despite the circa 49% increase in taxes from its previous year disbursement, Dangote Cement still attained a profit of N276 billion for the year—38% higher than the previous year.

    READ: Aliko Dangote’s net worth falls by $1.4 billion in Q1 2021 amid stock market sell-off

    Increased investments (& Liabilities)

    While it is true that you need to spend money to make money, expenses don’t do much when it comes to growth—investments are what make all the difference. Dangote Cement currently has its operations in Cameroon (1.5Mta clinker grinding), Congo (1.5Mta), Ghana (1.5Mta import), Ethiopia (2.5Mta), South Africa (2.8Mta), Tanzania (3.0Mta), and Zambia (1.5Mta), amongst others. In addition to its 32.25Mta production capacity in Nigeria, it now boasts a total of 48.6Mta capacity across Africa.

    Not only was the company able to basically eliminate Nigeria’s dependence on imported cement, but it also made Nigeria an exporter of cement to other neighbouring nations. Its financials reveal a 15% increase in PPE to N1.4 trillion, also leading to a proportionate increase of 16% with N2 trillion in total assets. The downside? A 34% increase in total liabilities to also over a trillion, with both current and non-current liabilities increasing from prior year figures. With the higher demand for cement following recovery infrastructure spending, demand for more concrete roads, and increasing real estate development projects, its investments and industry monopoly will, however, place it in one of the best positions it can be. Consequently, it still has some of the best long-term credit ratings globally—and expectedly so.

    READ: Dangote Cement pays N1.1 trillion in dividends in 5 years.

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    Investor Focused

    The Chief Executive Officer, Michel Puchercos, in his notes on the results, revealed that Dangote Cement experienced its strongest year in terms of EBITDA and volumes; he also attributed a lot of it to their increased focus in protecting their people, customers, and communities particularly from the impact of the pandemic. Earnings per share, as noted in the results, was up 36.9% to ₦16.14 and proposed dividend was maintained at ₦16.00 per share. The company has paid more dividends to shareholders in the last five years than any other company on the NSE. However, with its cement rumoured to be one of the most expensive globally, offering value to its investors is certainly the least it can do.

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