Industrial players are seeing somewhat varied stock performances, with most EGX-listed industrial stocks continuing on the downward trajectory that began at the outset of the year. On both a year-to-date basis and when looking at the past five months (starting from 2Q 2022), only one EGX-listed major industrial company is in the green. There are also only four stocks that have outperformed the EGX30 this year so far.
Once again, share performances and earnings are on completely different wavelengths: All industrial companies — with the exception of Oriental Weavers — reported strong earnings during the second quarter of the year. This was also the case in 1Q 2022, when the majority of companies reported stellar earnings despite underperforming the broader EGX30 as a result of the war in Ukraine and the resulting global uncertainty, which prompted investors to exit equity markets in general, but particularly impacted industrial players due to trade disruptions, material shortages, and rising prices and costs.
For the purpose of this analysis, we’ll look at the performance of a handful of heavyweight EGX30 stocks on a YTD basis and from the beginning of 2Q 2022 until now: GB Auto, Oriental Weavers, Ezz Steel, Elsewedy Electric, and Rameda Pharma.
Almost all the companies have underperformed the EGX30, both on a YTD basis and when looking at the five-month period beginning in 2Q 2022, according to market data. The EGX30’s YTD return is -13.3%, while its 5M return is -10.4%.
The only one bucking the trend: Rameda, which is up 13.1% YTD and 38.7% since 3 April to EGP 2.76.
For industrial stocks, keeping an eye on where the currency is headed is key: “Generally speaking, industrials are very much linked to macro dynamics and particularly the currency outlook,” said Ahmed Soliman, CI Capital’s head of the industrials sector. Most industrial players would also benefit from a weaker EGP on the balance sheet side of the equation, he told Enterprise. Arqaam Capital Associate Director Nour El Din Sherif echoed the same opinion, saying a depreciation also results in some savings on the labor side, including “selling, general, and administrative (SG&A) expenses, because most of the SG&A is priced in local currency.”
GB Auto is also a prime example of how wider macro conditions impact stock performance: Supply chain disruptions and shortages in the auto market drove down the company’s share price during the first several months of the year, falling as much as 53.4% on a YTD basis in July. The company’s share price has begun to stage a recovery (although it remains down YTD) in recent weeks amid expectations that Hassan Abdalla’s appointment as governor of the Central Bank of Egypt and a potential agreement with the IMF will ease the country’s FX crunch and allow for automotive imports to resume at a more regular pace, Soliman explains.
But fundamentals play a big role, too: Rameda, which has been consistently reporting solid growth in its financials, shows that investors are paying attention to each company’s fundamentals. While market concerns following the EGP devaluation initially impacted the company’s stock, it is now picking up again, CI Capital’s co-head of research Alia El Mehelmy said.
Rameda’s share movements are a reflection of confidence in management’s strategy: Besides the company’s sales volumes recovering in 1H 2022 “despite the decline in covid-related demand, which had at one point comprised 15% of the company’s sales,” Rameda’s management is pushing with a “more active acquisition strategy,” El Mehelmy told Enterprise. This strategy is expected to be “welcomed” by the market considering how positively it impacts growth and margins, El Mehelmy told us.
Looking at the companies’ financials:
Industrial players are slowly emerging as the benefactors of a weaker EGP: Given that the majority of their products are either priced in foreign currencies or have exposure to exports, “the industrial sector is one of the main beneficiary of the depreciation of the EGP,” El Sherif told Enterprise. Even if they retain their margins and have foreign exposure on the cost side, the depreciation in local currency will result in absolute growth in profitability, he explained, adding that these companies can increase their selling prices.
The global commodity outlook is also a big factor to look at, because operations are directly linked to commodity prices, and therefore they have a direct impact on profitability, said Soliman. This is especially relevant for companies that import commodities, such as Elsewedy, which imports raw materials such as copper and aluminum, Sherif said. Elsewedy is enjoying lower aluminum and copper prices, which are reducing working capital needs and alleviating pressure on cashflow.
But what’s positive for one company can be a negative for another: Ezz Steel, for example, could be saving on its cost side from lower iron ore prices — a sizable portion of their costs — but its top line could be lower and its margins slimmer as they export lower volumes, Sherif explained.
The rest of the year looks a bit brighter for industrials, particularly for manufacturers that use local components in their production. “These companies will likely benefit from a commodity price rally, because they price their end product in USD and it goes to the export market, while most of their cost is domestic and not linked to the global prices,” says Sherif. The negative overall performance of industrials during 1H 2022 was justified, due to global market conditions, says Sherif, “But I think for the second half, the outlook looks much better,” he concluded.
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