The impact of the restrictive measures put in place during the second quarter to contain the global pandemic was apparent in the financial performance of two of the major players in the cement industry (Dangote Cement and Lafarge) as Revenue was pressured. Specifically, the industry leader, Dangote Cement recorded a decline of 15% in Sales volume in its Nigerian Operations while Lafarge reported a decline of 10%. Notably, the CBN Manufacturing PMI showed that demand for new orders in the cement subsector slowed to 63.6 points at the end of Q2 from 70 points in Q1.
In our view, the lockdown in the month of April in three key states across the federation (Lagos, FCT and Ogun) coupled with heavy rainfall in June led to the decline in the industry’s sales volumes during Q2. Furthermore, we think the increased level of government attention on the healthcare sector amidst revenue challenges led to the suspension of most construction projects across the nation. Meanwhile, we highlight that the FG reduced the amount budgeted for capital expenditure by 20% in the revised 2020 budget following the downturn in oil prices which undermined oil revenue. Based on the recent presentation made by the Minister of Finance on budget implementation, the sum of N253.3bn has been spent on CAPEX as at end of May, which pales in comparison to the pro-rated revised budgeted capital spending of N816.70bn and translates to a performance ratio of 31%.
Looking ahead, our outlook for the cement industry is mixed due to a plethora of factors ranging from subdued private investment in gross fixed capital formation, rising inflationary pressures on essential food items (which could dampen the quest for capital goods such as housing), increased energy costs due to the devaluation in the local cuurency amidst heightened competition in the industry that may limit industry players from hiking prices to preserve margins. Although, we expect pressure on volume growth to persist in the short term until there is a significant pick up in economic activities, we note that the relaxation of lockdown measures and the low interest rate environment are positive factors that will support the earnings of industry players.
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