Tuesday, 6 July 2021

EnterprisePM — A proposal that would cap domestic sales on cement gets official sign off and praise from the industry.

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TONIGHT

No summer, no slowdown: We have a busy news day today, ladies and gentlemen, with macro, regulation news, and updates on key events we’re tracking all taking place.

What’s happening with the EGX today? The market closed nearly 2% down today with no major EGX-listed company in the green. Stay tuned to tomorrow’s EnterpriseAM for an explanation.

Meanwhile, European travel operator TUI has cancelled all summer holiday packages to Egypt until 31 July amid "ongoing uncertainty around travel", according to a press release by the company. Joining Egypt in the list of cancelled summer destinations by TUI are Turkey, Morocco, Greece, Tunisia, Costa Rica, and the US state of Florida.

This is the latest in a series of tourism hits the country has been receiving in recent weeks. Just yesterday Egypt was added to Morocco’s travel list B, while the UK and Saudi Arabia have advised against visiting the country.

THE BIG STORY TODAY- The cement industry might finally catch its long awaited break after years of a supply glut has pushed players to the brink. Reuters is out with an exclusive stating that production cuts that have been called by industry players have received the sign off from the Competition Authority. Industry players we spoke with today tell us that the decision is in fact a ceiling being set on domestic sales.

The PMI is also out for Egypt, and it’s better than expected. With the gauge landing at 49.9, this is the closest Egypt’s non-oil private sector has gotten to expansion territory since November 2020. We dive deeper into both stories in the Speed Round below.

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Ever Given go home: It seems that the Ever Given saga may finally be settled, as the Ismailia Economic Court ordered the release of the ship tomorrow, on the request of the Suez Canal Authority, according to Al Shorouk. This comes after an array of negotiations for a fair compensation settlement. Over the weekend, the ship’s owner Shoei Kisen agreed to pay USD 540 mn, from the previous USD 150 mn it was reportedly holding out for. We covered the story here, here and here.

HAPPENING NOW- The Senate has given its final approval today for the Unified Budget Act, following Sunday’s early nod. The bill will be sent to the House of Representatives for a final vote, before heading to Ittihadiya for ratification, according to Hapi Journal. The legislation will impose new requirements for the government to ensure fiscal discipline. These include spending limits for each ministry, as well as new mechanisms to monitor budgeting performance.

** CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from today’s EnterpriseAM:

  • Ethiopia has resumed filling the GERD, said Egypt’s Irrigation Ministry, raising tensions ahead of this week’s UN Security Council meeting.
  • Egypt might soon locally manufacture Oxford / AstraZeneca shots, with the Health Ministry currently in negotiations to produce the jab in Vacsera’s new Sixth of October factory.
  • The collapse of OPEC+ talks has set oil careening upwards while the future of the oil alliance hangs in the balance as Saudi Arabia and the UAE go head-to-head.

PSA- Uber will take you to get vaccinated at a discount: The ride-hailing service is offering two Uber trips for each rider to the Cairo International Convention Center — Egypt’s largest vaccination center — shaving EGP 100 per ride, according to a press release (pdf).

How it works: You should receive an SMS or email with a link to the voucher. Once you accept it, it will be in your Uber Wallet for use whenever you head to the center.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- On that last note…Oil prices are now at a six-year high, amid growing tensions between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Bloomberg reports. Prices are close to USD 77 per bbl, with West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude at USD 76.9, already ticking up from this morning’s three-year high. This series of upsurging prices comes in the aftermath of OPEC’s failed agreement on supply quotes.

FOR TOMORROW-

The Egyptian Property and Investment Show (EPIS) is opening its doors tomorrow, bringing the biggest real estate event in Egypt. The exhibition will run until 10 July and you can register here.

🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

The EGX will hold its board elections for the 2021-2025 term on Wednesday, 14 July, four days earlier than it had originally planned, the exchange said in a bulletin. We had a rundown on the candidates in this morning’s EnterpriseAM.

The Cairo International Book Fair is currently ongoing at Egypt International Exhibition Center today. The event will run through to 15 July.

🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-

With the summer heat intensifying and calls for action on climate change rising, auto companies and oil giants are showing their doing their part. Volkswagen is selling its Bugatti supercar business to Croatian electric car startup Rimac Automobili amidst a pivot to EVs, according to a VW press release. VW’s Porsche and Bugatti brands and Rimac will join forces to create a JV firm called Bugatti Rimac. Under the agreement, Rimac will own a controlling 55% stake in Bugatti while VW’s Porsche brand will own the remaining shares. The financials of the transaction were not disclosed. VW is aiming to phase out combustion engine vehicles in Europe by 2035, but the move marks an end of an era for 112-year-old luxury French brand Bugatti that spent two decades under the German automaker.

Meanwhile, Big Oil is divesting from its fossil fuel assets to the tune of bns of USD: Total asset sale of companies such as Exxonmobil, Total, and BP exceeded USD 140 bn, as companies rush in their transition to net zero, Wood Mackenzie says, according to the Financial Times. Apparently, there are potential buyers for these assets — from smaller private players to independent operators backed by private equity. But as some oil majors are growing a conscience, others such as Aramco have no interest in helping the world out.

📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-

Amazon Original military sci-fi film The Tomorrow War is out, featuring Chris Pratt as the main character. Dan Forester (played by Pratt) is drafted to fight in a war 30 years in the future against a deadly alien species. He teams up with a scientist and his estranged father in a mission that will determine the fate of humanity. The flick is exciting and the acting is applaudable, but the movie is sometimes formulaic in its depiction of time travel and family. A bunch of reviews are out echoing that while the film is a great summer watch, it won’t be receiving any awards soon. The Guardian | Roger Rebert | Den of Geek | CNet.

The Euro semi finals are finally here. Gather the friends and get ready to watch Italy versus Spain tonight at 9pm.

🍔 EAT THIS TONIGHT-

The popular fast food chain in the 70s and 80s, Wimpy, is relaunching in Egypt today with a branch in Dokki. The American burger joint used to be the McDonald’s of the land, but went on a decades-long hiatus from Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Promising a comeback with a bang, Wimpy is releasing a brand new menu featuring items such as egg burger, smashed burger, chicken fillet puri wrap, and of course, the Wimpy burger. You can visit their branch, order a home delivery, or pass by and grab your order using the Carhop app. Bonus: Wimpy are going all out with their marketing, check out this epic advertisement (watch, runtime: 00:55).

🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-

The French Institute in Cairo is screening Youssef Chahine’s renown film ‘Iskandreya Leh?’ at 6pm today, followed by a talk from historian Frédéric Abécassis and cinema critic Ahmed Assar.

A Square Foot Gardening workshop is taking place today at 7pm at Magal Explore. The gardening technique is regarded as one of the most efficient methods to grow food with little resources.

The Gypsy Jazz Project is performing tonight at The Room New Cairo at 9pm.

💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-

How to spot megatrends before anyone else: Whether you’re an entrepreneur, and investor, or someone who just likes to stay ahead of the curve, you should check out Rohit Bhargava. The author releases a book every year on what the trends will be in the next period and has often gotten very close to the mark. He also has developed the ‘Haystack Method’ to identify coming trends However, his latest book Non Obvious Megatrends promises to be his last book and look large-scale at the huge shifts in business and culture that will transform how we work, play and live globally. You can purchase the Kindle version of the book or head to Diwan Bookstore where we’ve seen it there.

☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Cairo will be touting temperatures of 40°C for the coming few days, with tomorrow’s nighttime low standing at 24°C, according to our favorite weather app. Meanwhile, the beachside summer destination that is Sahel will have daytime highs of 32°C and nighttime lows of 23°C.

SPEED ROUND: BASIC MATERIALS

Cement industry is finally getting a lifeline

Is the government finally stepping in to rescue the cement industry? Cement producers were given the greenlight to cut production by at least 10% by the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA), according to documents seen by Reuters. The new quotas, which will take effect on 15 July and extend for one year, set a 10.69% baseline cut. They also give additional room for cuts of 2.81% per production line and more for older factories, the newswire noted. The proposal had reportedly been submitted by 23 industry players to reduce the supply glut that is crippling their business. Reuters first reported in May that the government was working on a plan to save the industry based on recommendations from cement companies.

These are actually caps on domestic sales, industry leaders tell us: While Reuters is suggesting that the decision slashes production, Suez Cement’s CEO Jose Maria Magrina told us that these are, in effect, caps on how much an individual cement maker can sell on the local market. This would help smaller manufacturers, who will get a higher ceiling, to stay afloat, and prevent larger players from getting huge cost advantages, Magrina said.

Cement players are happy: “It is a step in the right direction. The government has shown foresight, because supply is [currently] much more than demand,” says Magrina. Medhat Stefanos, who heads the Federation of Egyptian Industries’ cement division, tells us that industry overwhelmingly welcomes the news.

Magrina, however, noted that there’s still room for additional cuts. He also noted that the Industrial Development Authority worked with the ECA on the decree.

Producers have yet to be officially notified of the new quotas as of dispatch time, Stepfanos tells us. A press conference to announce more details on the rules is expected to take place 24 hours after the FEI gets a formal notice, Stefanos added.

Cement has been flooding the market for years: Sales are less than half of the sector’s annual capacity, which has surged to 85-87 mn tonnes in the past three years, and actual production well exceeds consumption. Making matters worse was the new military-owned Beni Suef plant that came online a couple of years ago, which added another 13 mn tonnes of cement to the market every year. Cement factories have lost bns in recent years due to oversupply, one industry insider recently told us.

Demand fell further last year: Annual sales declined to 41.7 mn tonnes last year from 43.8 mn in 2019, on account of the lockdown.

Want to know more about the struggling cement industry, and whether production cuts are the solution? We’ve got you covered with a recent Hardhat feature.

SPEED ROUND: ECONOMY

Nearly there

Egypt’s non-oil private sector was a dog’s hair away from expansion in June, as conditions showed signs of stabilizing at the end of 1H2021, according to IHS Markit’s purchasing managers’ index survey (pdf). The PMI gauge rose to 49.9, from 48.6 in May, only 0.1 shy of the 50.0 mark that separates expansion from contraction and to its highest level since November 2020, thanks to a pickup in output and new orders and exports and better tourism numbers. Business operating expenses, however, rose at their quickest pace since August 2019 as inflationary pressures persisted.

Sub-gauges for output and new orders rose above 50.0 for the first time in seven months. Firms said this was due to recovering conditions on the back of fewer covid-19 restrictions. “Whilst marginal, these readings pointed to an increase in activity,” IHS Markit said.

The recovery in tourism and higher exports were also drivers of the higher PMI reading. Tourist arrivals rose as a consequence of countries opening themselves up to more international travel, and export orders grew at their strongest since a record February. This helped offset weak domestic demand experienced by some of the survey participants, and meant that total new orders were on an upward trend.

Egypt’s tourism revenues reached USD 3.5-4 bn in 1H2021, up from USD 2.6 bn in 1H2020, Deputy Tourism Minister Ghada Shalaby told Reuters this week.

As a result of higher new orders overall, a recent decline in input purchasing softened. Higher purchasing activity helped businesses maintain inventory levels after six straight months of negative stockpiling, as well as gradually reducing work backlogs.

On the flipside, inflationary pressures on firms were (as expected) stark, with input prices increasing at a steep level due to skyrocketing raw material prices. This was driven almost exclusively by higher commodity prices, especially iron.. However, consumer prices were disproportionately impacted as firms absorbed the higher expenses in a bid to grow their businesses. “The latest rise in cost pressures was the sharpest for almost two years, as commodity prices, particularly metals and plastics, drove a steep increase in purchasing costs,” IHS Markit economist David Owen said.

IHS Markit had warned in April that global prices had hit their highest level in a decade due to a combination of post-lockdown pent-up demand and supply constraints.

Another weak point in last month’s PMI is that employment numbers continued to fall. Some businesses made new hires, but others chose not to replace employees that had left voluntarily, compounding a streak of job losses now extending beyond a year and a half. The pickup in activity and demand wasn’t enough to reverse the trend, according to the survey. “It was the Employment Index that held back the headline [PMI] figure as job numbers continued to fall overall,” Owen said.

That said, businesses still had good things to say for the next 12 months, with nearly half of those responding to the survey penciling in an expansion further ahead. While not as optimistic as record levels reported in May, firms remained more hopeful than the survey’s historic average. Many of them cited expectations of improving market conditions as pandemic-linked restrictions continue to taper down.

PMI in the region:

  • Saudi Arabia’s non-oil private sector grew at its quickest in five months, with the PMI (pdf) rising to 56.4 from 53.9 in May and output and new orders posting solid growth. The PMI remains in expansion after having shot up at the start of 2021.
  • Activity in the UAE continued to expand, but at a slower pace. The country’s PMI (pdf) fell marginally to 52.2 in June from 52.3 in May, hitting a four-month low.

GO WITH THE FLOW

Meet our analyst of the week: EFG Hermes’ Yousef Husseini

OUR ANALYST OF THE WEEK- Yousef Husseini, vice president of research at EFG Hermes (Linkedin).

My name is Yousef Husseini and I was actually supposed to be an engineer. I studied engineering at UCLA, but after a few internships, I decided that the field isn’t for me. I was already taking accounting and finance courses as electives so I decided to transition into the financial world by taking an investment banking course in the US. Our teacher was really into sell-side research. He always argued that it was the best place to start a career because you get exposure to a lot of sectors and you work with many departments. His words must have sunk in because I soon landed my first role as a sell-side analyst at EFG Hermes.

I’ve been at EFG for almost 12 years now. I was initially supposed to work in Saudi Arabia, but after spending some time training in Egypt, my then manager asked me to stay. It turned out to be the best thing that has ever happened to me seeing as I feel very much Egyptian — I’m originally Palestinian — and I think my Egyptian accent is getting better [laughs]. More importantly, there’s the added bonus that I married my wife Nada here.

I now cover the petrochemicals sector, mostly in Saudi Arabia, but I do cover a few firms in Egypt.

For anyone starting out as an analyst, I definitely would recommend the sell-side. It’s a good building block to have a foundation in all things finance and while it can be hectic and stressful, it’s also very rewarding. You get to talk to a lot of people and gain interesting insights, keeping you on your feet and always growing.

The best part of the job is how diverse it is. As a sell-side analyst there are so many aspects to what you do every day. Research is obviously a very important part of the job, but it's just one part of it. There’s also marketing and talking to clients, because no matter how good your calls are, if you aren't communicating them to clients in a proper way, they're irrelevant. You also have the asset management aspect from looking at investments.

The culture at EFG is to grow vertically. My boss, the head of research Ahmed Shams El Din, has always told me that his goal is to make me good enough at what we do that I could one day take his job. He’s instilled that culture in the team and I’m trying to be that way with my juniors. My goal is to elevate them to a place where they can be the head of the sector. Shams El Din has also been very understanding and flexible with me and my wife in regards to the work from home issue seeing as we’ve welcomed a new baby to the family.

The worst part of my job is the stress. If companies you cover make a big announcement, all hell breaks loose. Your clients start calling and you’re under pressure to come up with a picture of what’s happening and deliver it urgently.

I manage stress by taking a step back from it all. Sometimes you're so caught up in that you don't really realize what's happening. You're just functioning. Taking a step back lets you ask yourself ‘What's the worst case scenario here?’ and realize that if you get something wrong, the world doesn’t end. If I’m working on something that’s not super urgent, I take a nap to get away from it all. I know it's a weird custom, but it really works for me [laughs].

Going forward, I think a mix between physical and virtual roadshows is ideal. Both have their pros and cons, but we’ve learned a lot about virtual roadshows this past year and the benefits have really put themselves forward. There’s a lot less logistics involved and you can get things done quicker and talk to more people, but you lose that intimacy of just getting to sit with your clients face-to-face. That’s why I think it shouldn’t be heavily skewed in one direction.

Personally, I’m sort of a long-haul investor. I look for strong management teams and thematic stories that promise a potential upside. I also focus on dividends a lot, but I’m more interested in growth. As a sell-side analyst, I always try to look at the investment from my client's perspective whether they’re short or long-term investors. So in my job, I would never say an investment tool is bad, I just weigh them differently and try to get a full picture.

A good management team is aware of downside risk. They have analysed all possible scenarios and and try to position the company in a way where if the worst case occurs, they can come out the other side. Other than that, strong management is always trying to identify potential growth outlets and launching new products at the right time.

I would expect that stocks in my sector will perform very well over the next 12 months. Valuation and cashflow wise, the companies I cover in Egypt are in a strong position and I don’t think that’s reflected in the stock price.

The last great thing I watched was Sweet Tooth. I’m big into fantasy and sci-fi and the show is a strange apocalyptic kind of story. However, my favorite running show is Better Call Saul.

I’m currently reading Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement after I got the recommendation from Enterprise PM. I thought it would be very interesting to reassess myself by taking a step back and thinking about my internal processes.

When I’m not on the job, I’m a full time dad. I spend a lot of time with my kids, especially since my daughter was born 10 months ago. When things calm down at night, I like to play puzzle games whether they’re on my phone or just a rubix cube.


MARKET NEWS-

Integrated Diagnostics Holding (IDH) has announced coupon payments of USD 0.0485 per share for FY2020 returns, the company said in an EGX statement (pdf). Payouts are due out Thursday, 29 July.

MARKET ROUNDUP-

The EGX30 fell 1.9% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 1.11 bn (10.1% below the 90-day average). Regional investors were the only net buyers. The index is down 6.4% YTD.

In the red: Ezz Steel (-5.0%), Pioneers Holding (-4.5%) and Heliopolis Housing (-4.0%).

No EGP-denominated stocks were in the green today. USD-denominated Egyptian Kuwaiti Holding rose 0.1%.

CALENDAR

1-10 July (Thursday-Saturday): The government’s fuel pricing committee will meet to announce 3Q prices.

8 July (Thursday): The UN Security Council will meet to discuss the GERD crisis with Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

11 July (Sunday): Ismailia Economic Court will hold a hearing on Ever Given compensation case.

14 July (Wednesday): The EGX will hold board elections for the 2021-2025 term.

Mid-July: Legislative session expected to end.

19 July (Monday): Arafat Day (national holiday).

21 July (Wednesday): Clean Energy Business Council’s webinar Women entrepreneurs in clean energy (3pm)

20-23 July (Tuesday-Friday): Eid Al Adha (national holiday).

23 July (Friday): Revolution Day (national holiday).

23 July-11 August (Friday-Wednesday): Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

2-4 August (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt is hosting the Africa Food Manufacturing exhibition at the Egypt International Exhibition Center.

5 August (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

9 August (Monday): Islamic New Year.

12 August (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Islamic New Year.

3-5 September (Friday-Sunday): The World Karate Federation will hold the third competition of the 2021 Karate 1-Premier League in Cairo.

12-15 September (Sunday-Wednesday): Sahara Expo: the 33rd International Agricultural Exhibition for Africa and the Middle East.

15 September (Wednesday): The CFO Leadership & Strategy Summit is taking place in Egypt.

16 September (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

30 September-2 October (Thursday-Saturday): Egypt Projects 2021 expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 September-8 October (Thursday-Friday): The Cairo International Fair, Cairo International Conference Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 September: Closing of 2021’s first oil and gas tender in the Gulf of Suez, Western Desert, and the Mediterranean.

1 October (Friday): Businesses importing goods at seaports will need to file shipping documents and cargo data digitally to the Advance Cargo Information (ACI) system.

1 October (Friday): Expo 2020 Dubai opens.

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day.

7 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Armed Forces Day.

12-14 October (Tuesday-Thursday): Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria, Egypt.

18 October (Monday): Prophet’s Birthday.

21 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Prophet’s Birthday.

24-28 October (Sunday-Thursday) Cairo Water Week, Cairo, Egypt.

27-28 October (Wednesday-Thursday) Intelligent Cities Exhibition & Conference, Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski, Cairo, Egypt.

28 October (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

30 October – 4 November (Saturday-Thursday): The first edition of Race The Legends, Egypt.

1-3 November (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Energy exhibition on power and renewable energy, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

November: Egypt will host another round of talks to reach a potential Egyptian-Eurasian trade agreement, which can significantly contribute to increasing the volume of Egyptian exports to the Russia-led bloc that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

1-12 November (Monday-Friday): 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow, United Kingdom.

29 November-2 December (Monday-Thursday): Egypt Defense Expo.

12-14 December (Sunday-Tuesday): Food Africa Cairo trade exhibition, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

13-17 December: United Nations Convention against Corruption, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

16 December (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

14-16 February 2022 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo, Egypt.

1H2022: The World Economic Forum annual meeting, location TBD.

May 2022: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

27 June-3 July 2022 (Monday-Sunday): World University Squash Championships, New Giza.

**Note to readers: Some national holidays may appear twice above. Since 2020, Egypt has observed most mid-week holidays on Thursdays regardless of the day on which they fall and may also move those days to Sundays. We distinguish below between the actual holiday and its observance.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2021 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

Enterprise is available without charge thanks to the generous support of Commercial International Bank (tax ID: 204-891-949), the largest private-sector bank in Egypt; EFG Hermes (tax ID: 200-178-385), the leading financial services corporation in frontier emerging markets; SODIC (tax ID: 212-168-002), a leading Egyptian real estate developer; SomaBay (tax ID: 204-903-300), our Red Sea holiday partner; Infinity (tax ID: 474-939-359), the ultimate way to power cities, industries, and homes directly from nature right here in Egypt; CIRA (tax ID: 200-069-608), the leading providers of K-12 and higher level education in Egypt; Orascom Construction (tax ID: 229-988-806), the leading construction and engineering company building infrastructure in Egypt and abroad; and Act Financial (tax ID: 493-924-612), the leading activist investor in Egypt.