Egypt’s love for cigarettes has helped Eastern Tobacco’s revenues grow?
Just how much do Egyptians love their cigarettes? A whole lot. The Eastern Tobacco Co. has seen its share price climb around 373% since the EGP was floated in November 2016, hitting “successive record highs, in both USD and local-currency terms,” after it posted a 161% y-o-y increase in its profits for 1H2017-18. “The increase in profits is mainly due to pricing,” CI Capital’s head of consumer and healthcare research, Khaled Sadek, tells Bloomberg. “They raised their ex-factory prices by about 40% compared to last year and they still have a big part of their inventory of raw tobacco from before the currency float which makes the cost low for them and the margins higher.” Eastern Co. is valued at USD 2.7 bn, making it Egypt’s second-largest listed company.
The surge in cigarette prices has had a muted impact on demand. “People don’t stop smoking,” explain HC Brokerage’s Ahmed Hafez. “What happens usually is that they cut the number of cigarettes they smoke per day, and then they usually divert to the normal habits again.”
WHO data shows that around 50% of Egyptian males over 15 years old are smokers. Projections put the figure at 63% by 2020, which is higher than other regional estimates, including those for Lebanon, Saudi, and Morocco.