“Category growth across personal care remained under pressure, while the foods and allied categories fared relatively well,” Marico said in a statement on the BSE.
The company’s stock fell 2.43 per cent to Rs 337.45 after it issued its business performance update for the quarter ended December 31, 2019.
Marico said weak performance in its coconut and hair oils portfolio marginally dragged down domestic volume growth during the third quarter, signalling that consumers continued to avoid discretionary spending.
Hindustan Unilever (HUL), while declaring its results for the second quarter of the 2019-20 financial year, had said that the near-term outlook for demand, especially in rural India, remained challenging.
However, Mohan Goenka, director at Emami, said, “We can see that the wheels are slowly turning and it should pick up steam in the coming two to three quarters.
Rural India accounts for 45-50 per cent of Emami’s annual sales.
CARE Ratings has estimated overall growth may shrink to only 2 per cent in the current financial year and a revival, much to the disappointment of the FMCG industry, is expected as late as September this year. This compares poorly with the 5 per cent growth in the sector in 2018-19.
The ratings firm is of the view that expectations of a personal income tax reduction in the Union Budget 2020 may lead to improved consumer sentiment. Besides, increase in reach and the distribution network and targeting untapped rural markets may be another growth driver for the sector.
“The effects of a good monsoon and government initiatives to boost consumption may not reflect on the third-quarter results of major FMCG companies,” said Abneesh Roy, executive vice-president of institutional equities, research, Edelweiss Securities. In its note, Marico said even as the traditional channel stayed weak because channel partners continued to face liquidity challenges amid a soft demand environment, growth in modern trade and e-commerce channels also slowed partly due to specific price management measures in these channels.
CARE Ratings said the government came up with many initiatives to address the slowdown, especially after August, but they would take time to work out because typically policies had an impact after two-three quarters. Hence, a rebound in demand is expected in 2020-21.
“We are confident consumption demand will pick up over time, given the low levels of penetration and per capita consumption as well as the slew of recent measures announced by the government,” an ITC spokesperson said.