All eyes on rural demand in  FMCG  firms’  Q3  results | Mint
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Business News/ Markets / Mark To Market/  All eyes on rural demand in  FMCG  firms’  Q3  results

All eyes on rural demand in  FMCG  firms’  Q3  results

Q3 volume growth forecasts are lower sequentially but product price hikes can boost revenue
  • FMCG stock valuations have corrected from their highs in keeping with demand worries
  • Gross margin pressures would continue for a while until input prices soften meaningfully
  • Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) will announce its December quarter (Q3FY22) results on Thursday. Photo: ReutersPremium
    Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) will announce its December quarter (Q3FY22) results on Thursday. Photo: Reuters

    Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) will announce its December quarter (Q3FY22) results on Thursday and investors are expected to closely track management commentary on rural demand. Recall that while announcing Q2 results, HUL had said recent industry trends hint at rural demand moderation, which need to be monitored.

    Q3 volume growth expectations are sequentially lower, but product price increases would likely support revenue growth. “Expect 9% revenue growth (for HUL), which would be pricing-led with volume growth lagging at 2%," said analysts at Jefferies India Pvt. Ltd.

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    As other fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies declare their Q3 results, investors can expect a similar theme of subdued volume growth and higher pricing to play out. Aggregate sector revenue growth is expected to be lower sequentially. “HPC & Foods’ (FMCG firms) volume growth rates have visibly slowed (JM Financial estimates 1-2% versus 5% in Sep-Q), with some offset from higher pricing to pass-on some commodity costs pressure," said analysts at JM Financial Institutional Securities Ltd. “While this leads to revenue growth deceleration in staples, two-year CAGR may not be too different versus (Q2) due to higher price component," the brokerage said. CAGR is compound annual growth rate.

    Marico Ltd is expected to be one of the best performers on revenue growth. In its pre-quarter update, it said Q3 consolidated revenue growth was in the low teens. Marico’s December quarter domestic volumes are expected to be flat year-on-year (y-o-y) versus an 8% growth in Q2. On two-year revenue CAGR, both Marico and Dabur India Ltd are expected to perform relatively better than peers.

    Nestle India Ltd could sustain double-digit growth, even as raw material inflation dents margins, according to Jefferies’ analysts. The brokerage expects 8% y-o-y revenue growth for Britannia Industries Ltd, which would largely be pricing-led even as volumes remain flat.

    On the profitability front, continued commodity inflation could compress y-o-y gross margins, though sequential performance is likely to improve. Savings in advertising and promotion spends may help net profit. Overall, management commentary on demand conditions, especially rural market; margin prospects and price hikes are key factors to track.

    Meanwhile, FMCG stock valuations have corrected from their highs in keeping with demand worries. Bloomberg data shows that shares of HUL, Dabur India, Britannia, and Marico trade at 52.8 times, 47 times, 45.4 times, and 42 times each of their FY23 estimated earnings, respectively.

    In the near-term, the Omicron coronavirus variant poses a threat and some regions have imposed curbs to contain its spread. In general, analysts expect the FMCG sector to see consistent recovery over 2022, supported by minimal potential impediments due to covid-19.

    “While we are witnessing a covid surge, consumer behaviour shifts are no longer as dramatic as in the first two waves. The only impact we see are for (1) HUL’s personal care business, which could again see a slowdown as consumer mobility falls, and (2) Dabur’s healthcare business, which could see strong growth in consumption in this phase," said analysts from Credit Suisse Securities (India) Pvt. Ltd in a report last week.

    How rural demand shapes up remains key. Gross margin pressures would continue for a while until input prices soften meaningfully, analysts said. These factors may keep investors cautious on FMCG stocks in the near future. “While staple companies face weak earnings outlook in the near term, FY23 could be a year of turnaround," said Jefferies’ analysts.

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    Pallavi Pengonda
    Pallavi Pengonda is a financial journalist producing cutting edge commentary and analysis on companies, economy and market trends. Over her journalism career spanning more than 14 years, she has covered topics across sectors such as oil & gas, consumer, aviation and new age tech companies. She heads the Mark to Market team and joined Mint in June 2010. She lives in Bengaluru. She is an art enthusiast and likes to paint in her leisure time.
    Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Check all the latest action on Budget 2024 here. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
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    Published: 16 Jan 2022, 11:41 PM IST
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