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Ind-Ra: Bottoming Out of Capex Cycle; Acceleration Dependent on Meaningful Macro Improvements

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Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) expects capex spending by top 200 asset-heavy corporates to increase at a CAGR of 5%-8% over FY18-FY20 (FY17: up 5% yoy, FY16: up 4% yoy), primarily in the form of maintenance capex. Non-stressed corporates are likely to be contributors to capex beyond FY20 (FY17: 14% increase), while capex spending by stressed corporates is likely to be muted (FY17: 36% decline). Contribution to the total capex by non-stressed corporates in FY16-FY17 was 80% (FY11-FY12: 60%).

believes the stressed corporates have a limited ability to undertake any meaningful capex activity over the next five-to-seven years owing to weak credit metrics as indicated by interest cover of 0.5x and net leverage of 17.8x, along with an 8% decline in

Capacity Utilisation Unlikely to Rise over FY18-FY20: expects efficiency ratio/capacity utilisation of the top 200 asset-heavy corporates to remain at FY15-FY17 levels of 65%-70% over FY18-FY20 owing to global overcapacity and transition to the Goods and Services Tax regime. Moreover, utilisation levels are likely to be impacted by stagnant demand growth as reflected by a 9% growth in nominal private final consumption expenditure in 1HFY18 compared with a double-digit growth in FY17. Export demand registered a 7% growth during April-November 2017, similar to growth levels witnessed in April-November 2016.

While non-stressed corporates achieved high capacity utilisation of 75%-80% in FY17, the presence of stressed corporates with low capacity utilisation of 40%-45% could lead to an increase in merger and acquisition activities across sectors under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code over FY19-FY20, resulting in delay in any significant greenfield capex.

Capex Recovery Longer for Leveraged Sectors with Falling Capacity Utilisation: Infrastructure, metals and mining, and power sectors, which registered high leverage (9x-10x) and a significantly lower capacity utilisation of 20%-30% in FY17 from the peak FY06 levels of 80%-90%, could lower their capex spending over FY18-FY20 compared with (FY17: up 33% yoy, FY16: down 22% yoy), auto (FY17: up 1% yoy, FY16: down 8% yoy), and telecom (up 10% yoy, up 53% yoy) sectors. Low plant load factor and decline in power purchase agreements have led to a 2% yoy reduction in private sector investments in the power sector.

Additional Equity Needed If Credit Demand Revives: As per Ind-Ra's analysis, 75% of the top capex spenders belong to 'AAA' and 'AA' rated categories. The agency believes, under the government's proposed bank recapitalisation plan, the quantum of capital injection in and mobilisation of capital should largely cover the provisioning shortfall for stressed assets and address issues pertaining to non-performing assets.

The capital injection may also support modest growth in advances but is unlikely to support any significant investment demand by corporates. Therefore, bond market and companies are likely to be an alternate source of capex funding. However, weak appetite of capital markets and companies to absorb long-term funding requirement of infrastructure companies and the recent increase in bond yields are likely to result in demand constraints.

Government Spending Insufficient to Crowd in Private Capex: As per Ind-Ra's capex cycle report published in October 2017, growth in government (central and state) capital spending on capex (FY17: 6% yoy; FY16: 40% yoy) and share of spending as a percentage of nominal GDP have been decelerating. The agency believes, given the limited scope of additional fiscal spending boost, incremental government support is likely to fall short of requirement for a meaningful improvement in private capex.

According to the latest Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy's data, new investment proposals by government and private sector declined 53% yoy and 56% yoy, respectively, in 9MFY18, and were the lowest in a decade. The share of government in new investments announcement was 49% (9MFY18). Also, stalled government projects increased 54% yoy in 9MFY18; however, the private sector witnessed a 5% yoy dip in stalled projects.

Private Participation Challenging under Bharatmala Pariyojana: On the other hand, the Bharatmala Pariyojana, the second biggest highway development programme after the National Highways Development Programme announced in October 2017, could pose a challenge for the government due to their ambitious expectation of private participation through public private partnership of about INR1.06 trillion in a scenario of continued stretched balance sheets of many infrastructure developers. The agency believes the implementation of the Bharatmala Pariyojana would also depend upon fast tracking of land acquisitions, clearances from the Ministry of Environment, and other clearances.

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, January 11 2018. 17:06 IST