Import substitution, China+1 to drive chemicals volume growth: Ind-Ra

India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) has assigned India’s chemicals sector an improving outlook for fiscal 2021-22, expecting favorable market conditions across the broad chemical subsectors, along with a healthy rebound in end-user industries, following the COVID-19-led business disruptions in the first half of this fiscal. It expects the chemical sector to grow at 1.2-1.3 times of the gross domestic product (GDP) multiplier.

Ind-Ra expects GDP growth to rebound to 10.4 per cent in the next fiscal (FY22).

Chemical sector participants are affected by a varying degree of end-market demand pressure. Issuers catering to the auto, textiles and construction sectors and in the certain bulk commodities space are expected to witness an extended recovery cycle throughout FY22, whereas those catering to pharma, agrochemicals and personal care are already witnessing a demand surge, the rating agency said in a press release.

Most companies benefited from stable and lower feedstock prices, even as the prices of final products increased during the second of this fiscal, supporting margins. India’s push for self-sufficiency coupled with efforts towards supply chain diversification away from China is enabling large capex, which remains a monitorable.

Ind-Ra has a stable rating outlook for its rated issuers for FY22, as the agency expects chemical producers to generate strong cash flows from operations, given volume uptick across end-user industries, higher realisations and stable feedstock prices.

This would help limit the use of external debt for large capital budgets, as cash flows will be directed towards business expansions, leading to only moderate deterioration in credit metrics during the expansion phase, largely within the rating headroom available for most issuers.

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