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HC: SIDPEC, Solid performance persisting


Solid performance persisting  

  • Uncertain global factors at play shape export polyethylene prices

  • SIDPEC is benefiting from its comparative cost advantage. Strategic new projects and the acquisition of ETHYDCO potentially add value

HC Brokerage had recently issued an update note about Egypt’s industrial sector, through shedding the light on SIDPEC (SKPC EY). They focused on the company’s strategic new projects and their effect.

Nesrine Mamdouh, Industrials Analyst at HC commented that: “ Global supply/demand imbalances and uncertainty on geopolitical tensions and feedstock prices fluctuate global PE margins: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates global GDP growth at 3.1% in 2024, which we anticipate to weigh down on petrochemical demand, picking up gradually starting 2025, as global GDP growth recovers. Additionally, the increase in PE global capacities, particularly in China and the USA, could pressure prices if global demand does not recover tandemly, leading producers to reduce their utilization rates. However, the geopolitical tensions in Gaza, Ukraine, and the Panama Canal restrictions disrupted supply chains and increased freight and insurance costs, posing upward pressure on global PE export prices. Regarding the feedstock prices of naphtha and ethane crackers, although oil and naphtha futures contracts are in backwardation, suggesting lower future feedstock prices, the uncertainty surrounding the geopolitical tensions makes futures prices prone to upward revisions. In the USA, one of the lowest-cost PE producers and exporters, future natural gas and ethane contracts suggest higher prices over the coming years, implying a decrease in the oil-to-gas ratio and a conversion in the comparative cost advantage of ethane over naphtha crackers, leading to more price conversion of exports from these regions to Europe. Accordingly, factoring in these developments, we expect global polyethylene (PE) prices to reverse the trend and increase in 2024 after normalizing in 2023 from their 2022 peaks. Despite these higher costs being passed through, to a large extent, to the final prices so far, we believe if geopolitical tensions persist, the current supply/demand imbalances will eventually curb the responsiveness of prices to increased costs, pressuring PE’s global margins.

“ SIDPEC’s strong industry position and comparative cost advantage support its operations and profitability: The company is well positioned due to its decent local market share, allowing it to charge a local price premium over export prices, particularly when FX bottlenecks hampered Egypt’s PE imports. Furthermore, SIDPEC capitalized on its net positive FX exposure and its predominant EGP-denominated cost structure by importing grades of polymers (polypropylene, LDPE, and PVC, PE100) and selling them at a premium in the local market through its commercial unit.  Moreover, implementing the feedstock formula in 4Q22, which tied it to an indexed PE price, helped SIDPEC hedge its margins against adverse convergent movements in feedstock and final prices, leading to consistent earnings. In our forecast, we assumed a gradual narrowing in the local price premium parallel to the gradual resolution of Egypt’s FX shortage and the resumption of PE imports.  We anticipate the feedstock pricing formula to remain in place. We expect SIDPEC’s revenue to grow at a c7.6% CAGR over our FY24–28e forecast period, mainly driven by higher prices in EGP terms due to the EGP devaluation, despite normalized blended PE prices in USD. We expect COGS to grow at a CAGR of c7.9%, factoring in higher production costs, translating into an average EBITDA margin of c24% over our forecast period. We forecast net profit to grow at a CAGR of c10.7% over our forecast period. ” Mamdouh added.

“ Synergies from new projects and the acquisition of ETHYDO, represent an upside risk to our numbers: In our view, SIDPEC’s full acquisition of its 20%-owned subsidiary ETHYDCO through a share swap entails operational and cost synergies. In July 2023, the independent financial advisor (IFA) valued ETHYDCO at USD1.09bn or USD78.3/share (divided over 13.9m shares), using an FX rate of EGP30.9/USD, which yielded a value of EGP33.5bn. The IFA valued SIDPEC at EGP23.1bn or EGP30.6/share (divided over 756m shares), suggesting a swap ratio of 1.45:1, according to which SIDPEC would issue 877m shares in favor of ETHYDCO shareholders as part of a capital increase in return for acquiring the remaining 80% of ETHYDCO. The IFA valuation was based on the two companies’ FY22 financial statements. However, the deal was pending the acquisition of a 30% stake in ETHYDCO by Alpha Onyx Limited, affiliated with ADQ Holding, which delayed the transaction, without clear visibility on its implementation time, especially considering the FX uncertainty. However, we believe the resumption of talks will require a revaluation of the swap ratio to factor in recent developments and the two companies’ FY23 financial positions. Meanwhile, SIDPEC is contemplating the implementation of various projects. It has allocated an investment budget of USD57m in 2024, including contributing a 7.5% stake in the Egyptian Bioethanol Company (EBIOL), and USD5m in Egyptian Gas Cylinder (INCO) to export bioethanol and gas cylinders. Moreover, the company is currently bidding to establish a power station for EBIOL, which would enhance its FX proceeds. In addition, it secured technology to establish a combined heat and power unit to generate electricity, leading to partial electricity savings. Furthermore, SIDPEC signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish a methane production unit, using its available resources of CO2, Hydrogen, and land. The production of methane internally would serve as a fuel for boilers and reduce the cost of sourcing it externally. Also, it plans to establish a permanent facility to import ethane from the US by 2026, in partnership with ETHYDCO, GASCO, and a specialized private company for a total of 600,000 tons/year of ethane, where its share will be around 144,000 tons/year. The ample feedstock will allow SIDEPC to expand its production, estimated to cost an additional USD100-USD150/ton of ethane, equivalent to an extra USD2.3–3.4/MMBtu, according to our calculations.” Nesrine Mamdouh concluded.


About HC Brokerage

HC Brokerage is an affiliate of HC Securities & Investment– a full-fledged investment bank providing investment banking, asset management, securities brokerage, research, and custody services. HC Brokerage is an Egyptian registered company and member of Egypt’s Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA), and its registered address is 34 Gezirat Al-Arab St., Mohandessin, Giza, Egypt, Dokki 12311

HC: Orascom Construction, Robust business model

  • Imminent inflection point in the GCC to support MENA operations

  • ORAS capitalizes on its U.S. presence, hedges setbacks, and further diversifies its exposure through BESIX

  • In a recent report, HC Brokerage issued an update note about Egypt’s construction sector, through shedding the light on Orascom Construction focusing on the the company’s exposure rebalancing.

Nesrine Mamdouh, Industrials Analyst at HC commented that: “Despite a challenging operating environment in Egypt, projects in the pipeline still offer moderate potential: In 2022, The Russian-Ukrainian war caused commodity market turmoil, supply chain disruptions, soaring global inflation, and hence rate hikes by major international central banks, pressuring the EGP and stressing Egypt’s state budget. As a result, the Egyptian government rationalized public spending, and despite delaying the implementation of new projects with a USD component (estimated at USD8bn), it allocated EGP587bn for investments (USD18.8bn) in the FY23/24 state budget. It also endorsed legislative and regulatory amendments to reduce its footprint in various economic sectors and encouraged private sector participation, including amendments to the executive regulations of the PPP Act for infrastructure projects to facilitate public-private partnerships in key projects. The budget also marks EGP600bn for private investments, representing c33% of total investments of EGP1.8trn and c50% by FY25/26, which is achievable if domestic macroeconomic visibility and investor sentiment improve, in our view. Regarding ORAS’s main business areas, we expect the transportation sector’s share of total investments to retreat after the completion of its ten-year (2014–2024) development plan with total investments of EGP1.7trn. We also see growth potential in the logistics, manufacturing (with expected investments of USD3.3bn in FY23/24), electric regional interconnectivity, and renewable energy sectors. Renewables include green hydrogen projects, which are attracting remarkable investments to Egypt, and water desalination projects with investments of USD3.1–3.3bn for the first phase of Egypt’s water desalination program, targeting a capacity of 3.35m cbm/day by 2025.”

“Rebalancing exposure in MENA in a quest for potential opportunities:  We expect ORAS’s share of Egypt’s investments to soften to an average of c3.1% in 2023–2027e (a proxy for its awards from Egypt), from 3.7% in 2018–2022, as the government plans to scale down USD-intensive projects and as ORAS targets quality projects, entailing a foreign financing component. Having said that, we expect a c20% y-o-y decrease in Egypt awards to USD1.6bn in 2024e, while a faster-than-expected resumed USD spending on planned projects, and private sector participation would represent an upside risk to our numbers. However, the 2023e healthy backlog from Egypt, estimated at USD3.9bn, representing c69% of its total backlog, should secure decent sustained revenue over 2024 until the economy overcomes its bottlenecks and FX shortage. Also, the government’s compensations to negatively affected contractors by the EGP devaluation, should support its revenue from Egypt. As for MENA, we see ORAS capitalizing on its flexible and diversified business model to increase its exposure to the GCC through vigorous investment plans and mega projects aiming at diversifying their hydrocarbon-based economies. The GCC’s total underway and planned projects are estimated at USD2.6trn, of which c54% are in the KSA, c21% in the UAE, and are led by the construction sector at c56% of total investment projects, according to the GCC 2023 planned projects by MEED. As for KSA, which dominates the lion’s share of investments, we expect its awards to average c35% of investments over our forecast period, a growth of c2.2x, from an average of c16% in 2018–2022. Despite fierce competition, we see ORAS, relying on its expertise, actively bidding and consorting with national and international companies for various water projects, including desalination, transmission, strategic reservoir, and wastewater treatment projects.” Mamdouh added.

“Sustained business in the US and diversification benefit from Besix: The US Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) signed in 2021 authorized USD1.2trn for transportation and infrastructure spending, of which USD550bn were allocated to new investments over five years in the nation’s bridges, airports (the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides USD15bn in airport infrastructure funding), waterways, and public transit among others. However, the Fed Reserve’s restrictive policy to curb inflation by raising rates by 525 bps since March 2022 to date to a range of 5.25–5.50%, created tighter credit conditions, gradually weighing down on growth. While supply chain bottlenecks are largely resolved, and inflation is gradually improving, it is still relatively high, at 3.7% as of August. Whereas in July 2023, the US total construction spending (SAAR) increased by c5.5% y-o-y to USD1.97trn, driven by a c17% y-o-y growth in total non-residential spending and a c71% y-o-y growth in notable private manufacturing spending. ORAS maintains its exposure to the US data center business, the recession-proof student housing, and the light industrial and commercial sectors, while increasing it to the advanced manufacturing and aviation infrastructure works. We foresee ORAS focusing on non-interest-rate sensitive and sophisticated projects where it possesses a comparative advantage, which should sustain its EBITDA margins at an average of c2.2%, on our numbers. As for Besix, despite a gloomy outlook for the European construction sector in 2023, the Eurostat Construction Production Index increased y-o-y as of June 2023 for Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxemburg, with a slight decrease for France, Besix’s main business markets in Europe. We foresee investments in these economies to maintain an average share of c33% of total Euro area fixed capital formation over 2023–2024e. Also, the infrastructure and renewable projects public tenders should sustain Besix’s business in concessions and assets. Moreover, the company’s expertise in marine, high-rise innovative buildings, its exposure to the Middle East, along with the phasing out of lower-quality projects should improve its net profit margin at an estimated average of c1.1%, suggesting a decent contribution to ORAS’s bottom line, further enhanced by the magnitude of any potential appreciation of the EUR/USD exchange rate.” Nesrine Mamdouh concluded.

 About HC Brokerage

HC Brokerage is an affiliate of HC Securities & Investment– a full-fledged investment bank providing investment banking, asset management, securities brokerage, research, and custody services. HC Brokerage is an Egyptian registered company and member of Egypt’s Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA), and its registered address is 34 Gezirat Al-Arab St., Mohandessin, Giza, Egypt, Dokki 12311


Arabian Cement – Diligently navigating headwinds

In a recent report, HC Brokerage shed the light on the cement industry in Egypt, specifically on Arabian Cement Company (ARCC) where they cut our 2022–25e EBITDA estimates by c12%.


  • The market is still digesting new macroeconomic and industry developments, which entails prudent pricing and cost management

  • Despite lowering our gross margin estimates, reflecting inflationary pressures, we expect ARCC to maintain its cost advantage

  • We cut our 2022–25e EBITDA estimates by c12%


Nesrine Mamdouh, Analyst of Industrials at HC commented that: “ Market supply/demand imbalance pressures local prices: While the Egyptian government’s introduced quota system in July 2021 curtailed local sales to 51–52m tpa, the increases in effective quota for 2022 left the effective total market capacity at around 56m tpa, 8.3% higher than the original 2021 quota. Our estimates reflect the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA)’s July 2022 decision to increase the local cement sales quota by 8.0% and allow cement companies to exceed their quotas in certain months to regulate supply and demand. In 2022, local cement sales increased by c5% y-o-y to 51.2m tons, with the market achieving 91.4% of the quota while ARCC achieved 96.5% of its quota, demonstrating its above-average ability to take advantage of quota increases. For 2023e, if cement companies pass through the higher costs onto their customers, the retail selling price will increase to as much as EGP2,100-2,140/ton, negatively affecting demand. Therefore, we expect companies to absorb part of the increase in costs and forecast 2023e local cement prices at a range of EGP2,042-2,068/ton, moderately pressuring their margins depending on each company’s cost structure and exposure to export markets. We project local demand in 2023 to grow by an average of c2-3%, down from 5.4% a year earlier, reflecting the slowdown in construction activity. Maintaining the 2023 quota without occasional monthly increases will improve cement companies’ pricing power. Over 2023e–26e, we estimate local cement demand to increase by an average of c2.3% y-o-y and to grow at a CAGR of 2.27%. A recovery in private sector investments and any potential upcoming government decisions on private building permits are key upside risks to our numbers. As for ARCC, we expect local sales to increase by 2.1% y-o-y in 2023e to 3.29m tons, maintaining the 2023e quota. An occasional higher monthly quota would translate to an increase of up to c4% y-o-y in local sales. We forecast local sales to grow at a 2024e–26e CAGR of 2.51%.”


Nesrine Mamdouh added: “Exporting seems a more viable option for Egyptian cement players, especially following the recent EGP devaluation: Despite slimmer margins on cement and clinker exports historically, the EGP devaluation made exports more attractive and inflated the cash margins in EGP terms, improving the overall margins of exporting cement companies. In 2022, cement companies’ export volume increased c19% y-o-y to 9.56 m tons, and exports went mainly to Africa. Given an EGP devaluation of c37% in 2022, and c19% y-t-d.  ARCC captured a significant share of 10.5% of 2022 exports, following military-owned factories with an export share of c67%, Suez Cement Group with c12%, and other sector players with 10.5%, topped by Lafarge. We expect ARCC to maintain its high export volume of around an average of 1m ton/year over our forecast period and foresee a potential further increase in export in 2023e in case of lower-than-expected local demand and/or lower-than-expected local price adjustment to devaluation. Exporting gives the company a comparative advantage in securing its FX needs, lowering fixed production costs on larger-scale production, and offering an attractive cash margin in EGP terms. Also, we expect ARCC to further benefit from the government’s export promotion program and expect a higher income from export rebates, as implied by the FY22/23 state budget.”


Nesrine Mamdouh concluded: “Inflationary pressures squeeze cement companies’ margins, yet we expect ARCC to maintain its cost advantage: In February 2022, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led to supply chain disruptions, driving commodities into a price spiral. As a result, coal prices increased dramatically, reaching an all-time high in August 2022 of USD388/ton (CIF), an increase of 3.05x over January 2022 average prices. This was fueled by the European ban on Russian coal exports, effective August 2022, which later caused significant divergence and distortions in coal prices across regions. However, coal prices softened to USD142/ton as of 1 February 2023, after Europe had already heavily stockpiled coal as an alternative energy source to natural gas. Russia redirected its coal sales at very competitive prices to other non-sanction destinations, including China and India, which are also likely to boost their domestic production in 2023, according to S&P Global forecasts. Furthermore, on 9 October 2022, the Egyptian Cabinet more-than-doubled the natural gas price for cement producers to USD12.0/mmbtu from USD5.75/mmbtu. However, natural gas was partially used by a few cement players and fully by very few companies like South Valley Cement (SVCE EY) which increased its cash cost per ton. This will also alter the fuel mix of the cement companies that partially use natural gas in their fuel mix, leading them to rely more on cheaper options. Based on our calculations, coal prices above USD285/ton CIF should make companies indifferent between using coal or natural gas. On 27 October 2022, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) decided to raise the benchmark overnight deposit and lending rates by 200 bps to 13.25% and 14.25%. Also, it moved to a durably flexible exchange rate regime, leaving the forces of supply and demand to determine the value of the EGP against other foreign currencies. On 22 December, it raised the policy rates further by 300 bps, increasing cement companies’ working capital financing costs. The EGP devaluation of c19% since 27 October 2022 to date increased the cash cost per ton of cement players due to their coal imports and other foreign currency cost components of production. However, their exports will benefit from the EGP devaluation as they will become more competitive. Thus, we expect the devaluation to compress sector margins moderately in 2023e, holding all else constant, including export levels and cost structures. We expect coal and petcoke prices to normalize throughout our forecasting period, limiting sharp, abrupt increases in the cash cost per ton and alleviating the negative effect of EGP devaluation on margins. For ARCC, we are positive about its future performance and expect it to maintain its cost advantage due to: (1) its flexibility in changing its fuel mix to the most cost-effective one, 2) its effective raw material procurement and inventory management strategies, which proved to be successful, especially over the last two years, 3) its growing reliance on solar energy to cut costs, and (4) its remarkable export level, estimated at c23% of total sales in 2023e.”


HC: A turnaround in fortunes starts now in Arabian Cement

  • In its latest report, HC Brokerage shed the light on the cement industry in Egypt, specifically on Arabian Cement Company (ACC) where they reiterated OW on a substantial upside potential

  • Government finally imposes local sales quota to balance supply/demand; retail price should theoretically correct to over EGP1,200/ton, albeit gradually, benefiting all players
  • Arabian Cement should see its earnings multiply to unprecedented levels, despite the slightly lower implied utilization rate
  •  We more than double our 2021–24e EBITDA estimates and our TP to EGP15.0/share and reiterate OW on a substantial upside potential

Mariam Ramadan, Head of Industrials at HC commented that: “The introduction of quotas shakes up market shares but should significantly improve pricing environment for all: Under the formula proposed, each cement maker would cut production capacity by a base amount of 10.69%, an additional 2.81% per production line, besides an asset age factor, effective 15 July. We estimate this could shave off around 24m tpa (or c32%) of clinker capacity off the map, leaving effective capacity at 50m tpa, in line with pre-COVID-19 consumption levels, leaving all players potentially utilizing their full rebased capacity/quota allocated. While the imposed quota will result in a redistribution of sales volume, with gains for some and losses for others, the consequent higher price should comfortably translate into improved earnings for all. We estimate a theoretical ex-factory price floor of EGP1,000–1,200/ton based on the marginal cost producer’s all-in breakeven point, which is broadly in line with management’s expectation. Nevertheless, we only assume a gradual closing of the gap between actual prices and the marginal cost of production, as the market psychologically adjusts to the considerable hike and as inventories run down. We also factor in the normalization of coal/petcoke prices and freight rates, all translating to a terminal realized price of EGP1,000/ton for local sales. That said, however, a long-term equilibrium price should, besides fully covering fixed and variable costs, allow for debt servicing, recouping years of accumulated losses, and generate a positive return to shareholders, which should provide further upside.

Export market dynamics little changed despite the excess volume: On our calculations, all players who netted production cuts (and therefore face an increase in excess volumes) are already exporters. Assuming no significant change in their cost efficiency (and hence ability to export) following the cuts suggests an increase in volumes that need offloading in export markets, where margins are already very slim. We expect Arabian Cement’s export contribution margin to remain positive at the new utilization rate and anticipate it will retain its competitive edge in export markets as it remains among the most cost-efficient players with an extensive and diversified market reach (spanning from Sub-Saharan Africa to the US). We assume little change in the company’s export volumes (market share aside) but now factor in clinker exports as well (at slightly higher margins versus cement). This leaves the company’s cement utilization rate at 80%, down from its average historical mid-80%s (pre-line one’s outage last year), and its clinker capacity utilization nearly unchanged, with total exports making up c10% of sales.” Added Mariam Ramadan

Many key considerations remain unresolved, constituting both upside and downside risks: On the downside, the government has only specified a one-year validity initially, but we assume an extension until natural supply/demand balance is achieved, with the cuts to merely oscillate with potential demand step-ups until then. Also, naturally, allowing imports would defy the logic of the intervention. Still, there has been no word on an import ban, while importing could now become lucrative (judging by prices in Turkey and the GCC). On the upside, divisibility remains key, with some producers potentially opting to idle their less efficient line (s) as the threshold of operating all profitably is higher than implied by their allocated quota. If this does not change the marginal cost producer’s breakeven point, it could translate to a higher effective supply cut and higher prices. Additionally, the kickoff of reconstruction in Libya and Iraq provides real upside to our export assumptions (prices and volumes), the signs of which already started to show.” Mariam Ramadan continued

Back to 2015 market dynamics; reiterate OW on compelling valuation: Our new assumptions see EBITDA multiplying to an all-time high of EGP1.26bn next year from EGP183m in FY20, with our 2021–24e estimates standing some c140% higher, on average, than our previous forecasts. This implies an EV/ton of USD78, still substantially below the replacement cost of at least USD130/ton, and a target price of EGP15.0/share. This level is comfortably below its all-time high of EGP18.0/share before the announcement of the new 12m tpa Wataniya plant and the new cement licenses; dynamics that were very similar to where this development takes us. Between then and now, however, the EGP devaluation also took place while the USD-based cost curve shifted downward on the exit of a couple of players and conversions to coal and petcoke. Ultimately, Arabian Cement’s cost advantage versus the marginal producer (and hence selling price potential) widened significantly, resulting in higher future operating cash margins, while its debt and other liabilities shrank and its cost of capital decreased. Therefore, we see the said share price rerating as only reasonable. Our new target price puts the company at FY22e EV/EBITDA of 4.9x (trading at 2.0x) and P/E of 7.6x (trading at 2.7x) and implies a potential return of 182% on the 6 July closing price of EGP5.32/share. Therefore, we reiterate our Overweight rating.” Mariam Ramadan concluded

HC maintains Overweight for Arabian Cement on a still compelling valuation

No alternative for government intervention, HC maintains Overweight for Arabian Cement on a still compelling valuation

In its latest report, HC Brokerage shed the light on the cement industry in Egypt, specifically on Arabian Cement Company (ACC) asserting that: “prices unlikely to find a bottom without direct government intervention, which is now in the cards”

  • Capacity shutdowns outpaced by demand destruction; prices unlikely to find a bottom without direct government intervention, which is now in the cards

  • Lower coal/petcoke/electricity prices, a stronger EGP and lower SG&A expenses offset weak selling prices, giving a breather to Arabian Cement Company’s operating margins, but earnings remain in the red until the end of the year, on our estimates

  • We cut our 2020–23e EBITDA estimates c11% and TP c21% to EGP5.50/share, and maintain Overweight for Arabian Cement on a still compelling valuation

Mariam Ramadan, Head of Industrials at HC commented that: “Demand recovery to take longer than current players can sustain, all else constant: A series of setbacks (from the hit to export markets, to the crackdown on informal housing, to the coronavirus situation, to halting building permits in capitals) has left the industry in dire shape, with 2020 likely marking the fourth year of consecutive decline in sales. The bad news is that we have not bottomed out yet. Prices are still falling today when it is supposedly the good season, before 4Q comes with severe price competition and end-of-year discounts to achieve sales targets and clear inventory. Prospects of a pent-up demand materializing post the lift of the construction ban have been downplayed by sector players, and mega projects, whose contribution had helped keep sales afloat, have peaked. Long-term estimates have also become significantly worse as purchasing power suffers, private investments falter and government investments shift further away from cement-intensive structures. On the supply side, permanent exits have been slow to happen, but at least 10 players have idled production lines, and that was still insufficient to balance the market. Adjusting for idled capacity, utilization rates are effectively c20 pp tighter at least, suggesting prices (1) are far from reasonable, and (2) can no longer be rectified by demand recovery alone, no matter how fast that comes by. Sector economics have reached a level where prices need to rise enough to do away with the current operating losses, bring back idle production lines (we calculate some 25m tpa of “dormant” capacity), generate enough cash to recoup losses incurred over the past years, and pay down debts/shareholder loans.

“Small government support won’t cut it; direct intervention is the only way out: Government efforts have so far been fixated on fuel prices (which are no longer relevant), and the more generic interest rate cuts, electricity price cuts, or market-specific export support incentives. However, the government is now said to be in talks, more seriously than usual, over local sales quotas to try and match supply and demand forces, which in our view will be accompanied by a price floor. At the last reported annual utilization rate of 65%, we calculate a minimum price of EGP820/ton ex-factory, excluding VAT. This is based on the highest production cash cost among current players, not counting for SG&A, interest or depreciation. While Arabian Cement’s volumes would be affected by this arrangement, given its market share is significantly above capacity share (operating at 88% in 1H20, compared to sector average of 57%), such price floor would still be a game changer for the company, taking it back to pre-devaluation profitability, and does not take away its edge as the most cost efficient player (EGP25/ton lower than the second best) and having the biggest export share (unaffected by the quota). The assumption here is that the government will push only as high as to prevent exits (in order to preserve foreign investor sentiment and assuage investors who had yet to recoup capital outlays ahead of the establishment of the new Beni Suef plant, avert layoffs, credit defaults, etc.) and low enough not to entice public dissent. We do not account for this in our numbers, until we have more clarity, likely in September.” Mariam Ramadan added.

“Cut EBITDA estimates c11% but maintain Overweight on compelling valuation: Our new estimates filter through to a downward revision of c11% to each of our 2020–23e EBITDA and 2021–23e EPS forecasts, which leaves our TP c21% lower at EGP5.50/share, implying a c57% potential return on the 12 August closing price of EGP3.51/share. We therefore maintain our Overweight rating for Arabian Cement. With the share price holding its ground over the past year against bad EGX performance, paying out a dividend, and recording losses for the first time in its history, it seems the market is finally starting to see past the current point in the cycle and into long-term value, which remains strong, in our view, despite the worsened short-term fundamentals.” Mariam Ramadan concluded.