Rating agency Crisil is of the view that a normal monsoon and healthy cash flow will give a fillip to the demand for agricultural pumps.
"Increasing rural electrification and positive farm sentiment riding on a normal monsoon, and improved cash flow after a healthy rabi season last fiscal will boost demand for agricultural pumps in the country this fiscal, leading to 8-10% revenue growth for their manufacturers," said Crisil.
The rating agency pointed out that higher volume-driven growth and stabilising input prices will lead to operating margins rising up to 100 basis points to nearly 11-12% this fiscal, and improve cash accruals.
"That, along with steady working capital levels and moderate capex spending needs will ensure debt remains at levels similar to last fiscal, supporting stable credit profiles. An analysis of agricultural pump manufacturers rated by Crisil, which account of nearly 40% of the sector’s revenue, indicates as much," said Crisil
The ₹5,000 crore sector is dominated by conventional pumps (grid-connected and diesel pumps), which account for 92% share, followed by solar pumps (8%).
“This fiscal, the sector’s growth of 8-10% will be largely volume-driven because of positive farm sentiment, better farm cash flows, increasing rural electrification, and stable pump prices. Last fiscal, despite volumes declining on year by ~6%, the sector’s revenue grew 17% largely due to a steep rise in realisation, in keeping with higher input prices (mainly pig iron and mild steel),” said Anuj Sethi, Senior Director, Crisil Ratings.
Thanks to better demand, conventional pumps are expected to grow about 7-8% this fiscal despite facing some headwinds, while solar pumps will see nearly 15% growth, propelled by government incentives.
Erratic power supply remains a key hurdle for conventional pumps as it impacts seamless water supply and therefore farm output. In addition, new and free grid connections for pumps are being curtailed. Besides, diesel pumps have become dearer in recent years. Besides, the Goods and Services Tax on conventional pumps has increased to 18% from 12% in the first quarter of this fiscal, making these pumps costlier, Crisil pointed out.
“Solar pumps, despite being substantially costlier than conventional ones, are expected to benefit from the central government’s Kusum Scheme, which provides significant incentives. Under this, farmers need to pay only 10% of the cost of the pump — which is almost the same as that of a conventional pump — upfront, while government subsidy and bank loans (under priority lending) will contribute the balance in a 60:30 ratio, respectively,” said Rajeswari Karthigeyan, Associate Director, Crisil Ratings.
Net-net, credit profiles of agricultural pump manufacturers would remain stable, supported by better cash accruals, controlled working capital due to stabilising input prices, and no major capex. The sector is currently operating at only 65-70% of capacity, obviating the need for capacity expansion. Hence, the key debt metrics — interest coverage and gearing — should improve to 13-14 times and about 0.15 times this fiscal from nearly 11 times and nearly 0.20 time, respectively, in the last, Crisil said.
That said, the pace of monsoon in the second half of this fiscal and geopolitical risks affecting raw material prices, especially pig iron and mild steel will bear watching in the road ahead, the rating agency added
Disclaimer: The views and recommendations given in this article are those of the rating firm. These do not represent the views of MintGenie.