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Volume growth in pharma space rebounds in December

Ipca Labs, Glenmark, Sun Pharma lead domestic market growth. Momentum likely to continue in near-to-medium term, analysts say

Ujjval Jauhari & Puneet Wadhwa  |  Mumbai/New Delhi 

After dipping 3.3 per cent and 6.3 per cent y-o-y in September and October in the back of New Pharma Pricing Policy (NPP) implementation, the overall volume growth in the pharmaceutical space has started to rebound. Post a 2.5 per cent y-o-y growth in volumes posted during November’13, the overall volume growth at 4.1 per cent does provide some respite.

The respite also comes from the fact that sales from stockist to retailers for the India Pharma Market (IPM) increased to 8.2 per cent year-on-year (from 6.9 per cent in November 2013) analysts at Nomura suggest. This also indicates that the impasse over NLEM that has been keeping domestic sales of most pharma under check is being sorted out.

Among individual companies, Ipca Laboratories, Glenmark Pharma and Sun Pharma outperformed their peers in December 2013 with gross domestic sales growth of 28.5 per cent, 20 per cent and 14 per cent respectively, as per AIOCD AWAC data.

However, Sun Pharma’s growth was outstanding given the high base. Sun Pharma’s domestic sales during the September 2013 quarter – at around Rs 950 crore – were more than double of Glenmark’s Rs 418 crore and almost four times of Ipca’s 276 crore.

Glaxo and Ranbaxy, on the other hand, still remain laggards – posting a sales decline of 11 per cent and two per cent respectively during December 2013. The trader’s impasse with the on margins for drugs to be sold under NLEM (New List of Essential Medicines) continued with GSK Pharma facing the maximum impact.

Cipla’s domestic growth in this fiscal has remained ahead of the broader market growth. The company clocked in a growth of 12 per cent during December and 10 per cent during the quarter. For Cipla that derives around 45 per cent of sales from domestic market, analysts suggest that the company should be able to sustain these growth rates.

“We believe that the recovery in the Indian Pharmaceutical Market (IPM) is gaining roots. While a broad-based volume recovery has started in November, realisation growth still remains weak (affected by NLEM drugs). We expect this trend to be sustained, estimating a recovery for the IPM in early 2014, but believe material margin expansion is unlikely near-term. We expect volume traction to drive the first leg of a recovery in early CY14 followed by an increased contribution from pricing in H2CY14,” point out Balaji Prasad and Rohit Goel of Barclays.

SAION Mukherjee and Lalit Kumar at Nomura observe: “Based on our interaction with company managements and AIOCD data; we factor in acceleration in domestic growth rates for Cipla and IPCA Laboratories in Q3FY14E”.

The road ahead

Despite challenges arising out of the implementation of the new drug pricing policy, the uncertainty over the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy and government measures to tighten the clinical trial process in the domestic market and the increased surveillance of India-based facilities by the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA), the industry was able to show a fairly good performance in H1FY2014 on the back of a favourable local currency, new product launches in the USA and focus on exports to the other emerging markets.

While most of the policy overhangs have been removed and the after-effects of the new pricing policy are getting absorbed by the industry, analysts suggest that the growth would be stronger for the Indian pharma players in the near-to-medium term.

Analysts say that the growth in the subsequent quarters would be driven mainly by: (1) market expansion in India; (2) the launch of generic products in the US (drugs worth $16 billion slated to expire during Q4FY2014 and FY2015); (3) ramp-up at new facilities going to production stream; (4) the launch of products under exclusivity or settlements with innovators; and (5) better traction in CRAMS activities.

“We expect revenue growth recovery in Q3FY14, led by the US generics, revival in domestic formulations with volume growth and favourable currency. We expect EBITDA margins to improve 70bps y-o-y to 23 per cent, led by higher US generics growth and favourable currency. Better margins, along with lower interest cost, would result in adjusted PAT (profit after tax) growth of robust 20 per cent y-o-y, higher than revenue growth. We remain Overweight on the sector and our top picks are Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Cipla, Sun Pharma, Indoco Remidies, and Natco Pharma. We have a Sell on Ranbaxy,” Sriram Rathi, an analyst tracking the sector at Anand Rathi says.

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First Published: Sat, January 18 2014. 11:43 IST