India Ratings-Mumbai-27 February 2013: The proposed 5.79% increase in rail freight as per the Railway Budget 2013-2014 may negatively impact the margins of the cement industry. In the event cement manufacturers are unable to pass on the rail freight cost hike, their operating margins may reduce by 75bps-100bps.
The cement manufacturers of South India will be particularly affected, given the unfavorable demand-supply situation may not be in a position to pass on the increased cost. However, cement players based in the rest of India would be able to pass on a significant portion of the cost increase. The railway freight hike may potentially increase the cement price by INR2 to INR4 per bag.
Around 50%-60% of the freight expense of a typical cement company is related rail freight. This is essentially 15%-18% of total costs. Around 10.5%-11.0% of rail freight (by volume) is attributable to the cement industry. This is second only to coal which accounts for 45%-47% of the rail freight.
The overall Stable to Negative outlook on the cement sector remains unchanged (please refer to Â‘2013 Outlook: Indian Cement ManufacturersÂ’, dated 10 January 2013 and available at www.indiaratings.co.in.)