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Updated: July 17, 2013 17:24 IST

Indian steel sector forecast bleak: BofA-ML

PTI
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File photo of the Tata Steel plant in Jamshedpur. Bank of America-Merrill Lynch on Wednesday released a bleak forecast of the Indian steel sector for this fiscal.
PTI File photo of the Tata Steel plant in Jamshedpur. Bank of America-Merrill Lynch on Wednesday released a bleak forecast of the Indian steel sector for this fiscal.

Bank of America-Merrill Lynch report remains bearish on top domestic steel firms like Tata Steel, JSW Steel and SAIL due to the prevailing economic environment.

Amid the gloomy economic environment, domestic steel outlook remains weak with lesser possibility of turnaround in the current financial year, according to a report by Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Offering a negative outlook, the report blames it on demand slowdown from key industries like construction, auto and infrastructure, keeping margins of steel firms under pressure.

“Demand is weak across most segments (autos, construction, infra). We believe a meaningful recovery in FY14 is unlikely as weaker rupee would delay rate cuts,” the BofA-ML report said on Wednesday, adding a negative impact from over capacity.

The rupee has been hovering at its historical low levels of around 59-60 per dollar in recent months on the back of foreign fund outflows.

This has complicated matters for the Reserve Bank to reduce policy rates, creating fear of delaying the process of economic recovery.

The report also points out that while demand for steel products remains low; many delayed steel projects are due for commissioning during this fiscal leading to overcapacity.

On the margin pressure, the report says, “We believe most domestic steel firms may face margin pressure on lower prices and limited benefit from lower input costs (especially for iron ore) due to vertical integration and dependence on the local demand supply driven e-auction ore.”

It also notes that domestic steel sector will remain under pressure due to weak demand environment.

“We believe the recent rupee depreciation (down 10 per cent since March) could cushion the fall in domestic steel prices, but steel producers may not have the pricing power to lift prices as demand is weak, supply is rising and utilisations remain at 10-year low,” it said.

The report further says while some producers have attempted to raise prices this month, this is unlikely to stick due to weak demand.

Referring to the impact of rupee depreciation on the net debt situation of companies like Tata Steel and JSW Steel, it says the net debt position would rise with higher foreign-currency debt.

The report also says it remains bearish on top domestic steel firms like Tata Steel, JSW Steel and SAIL due to the prevailing economic environment.

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