MANAGEMENT DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS
It was a good year for the global economy. While the struggles continued, by the end ofthe year, even the laggards were inching up and it seemed that the nightmarish recessionand its after effects had begun to recede. One story was about the structural shifttowards the developing region and large economies of Asia (China, India) and Africa sawgrowth pegged at around 5%. The other was about the strengthening of the recovery story inthe developed world. Even as the US saw creation of jobs and the economy speeding up,Germany, France and UK led the growth in Europe.
Despite the uncertainties, Apollo Tyres continued doing what it does best. Introduceproducts (launch of 4G range of tyres and Vredestein brand in India), expand markets(Thailand, Qatar, Jordan and many more) and continue its focus on building brands (highdecibel 'There are no Shortcuts' campaign).
The company closed its FY14 with a 4% increment in revenues with net sales pegged atRs. 133,103 million. Operating profit at Rs. 19,734 million was up by 27% as compared tothe previous year; while Net Profit numbers jumped 64% to close at Rs. 10,051 million.
In FY14, Indias economic growth rate was pegged at 4.9%, a faster pace ascompared to the previous year's rate of 4.5%. Improved performance in agriculture andallied sectors at 4.6%, up from 1.4% a year earlier, has led to this growth. Manufacturingsector has registered a contraction of 0.2% in FY14 as compared with a growth of 1.1% inthe previous year.
While the economy grew at a faster clip as compared to FY13, the automobile industrycontinued to reel under a prolonged slump. High interest rates, rising fuel prices, loweconomic activities and poor sentiments hurt the industry, which suffered its secondconsecutive year of weak sales. Even though 101 models, including 35 completely newmodels, were introduced during the year and an excise duty cut which reduced prices, salesof domestic car sales failed to pick up and it fell by nearly 6% to 2.5 million units. Thestory in the commercial vehicle sector was no different. The stalling of infrastructuredevelopment projects, ban in mining activities and overall slowdown in the manufacturingsector hit the commercial vehicles segment. Overall, commercial vehicles posted a declineof 20%, while medium & heavy commercial vehicles and light commercial vehiclessegments fell by 25% and 17% respectively. The only silver lining to the dark clouds inthe commercial vehicle segment was the tractor segment which grew at a robust 22%.
The slump in automobile industry hit all related industries. The Indian tyre sector wasno different. Based on the data available for nine months, it is estimated that the Indiantyre industry will have a flat year or minor de-growth in FY14 as against a 2% decline inFY13.
On the raw material front, weak demand for natural rubber ensured low prices of thecommodity in FY14 and raw material cost declined by 5% over the last year. In India, thecustoms duty on natural rubber was increased during the year to Rs. 30/kg or 20%whichever is lower from Rs. 20/kg or 20% whichever is lower. While thisled to an increase in the cost of imported natural rubber but high production and asuppressed global demand saw a fall in global natural rubber prices to around USD 2/kg bythe end of the fiscal.
For Europe, the FY14 began with a less than positive prognosis. However, the Euro Zoneand EU have made slow and steady progress. Importantly, the pace of growth has been thefastest since the second quarter of 2011 and the recovery is also becoming morebroad-based, encompassing core and so-called periphery countries alike.However, GDP growth in Euro Zone countries for the Calendar Year (CY) 2013 contracted by0.4% (CY12 -0.6%). Germany continues to outperform the region with a GDP growth of 0.5% orCY13 as against 0.9% for the previous year.
The change of mood to cautious optimism has been led by multiple factors including debtreduction due to various austerity measures, strengthening of the Euro due to theconfidence about continuity of the currency union, etc. A stable monetary policy by theEuropean Central Bank led to interest rates at historic low levels stimulating theeconomy. However, the challenge is far from over as high unemployment level remains aconcern which in turn will lead to low domestic demand.
While new car registrations in Europe dropped by 2% for CY13 as compared to CY12, thesecond half of the calendar year saw a 4% growth in similar registrations, againconfirming the economic recovery.
From the tyre market perspective, despite the gloomy projections, the financial yearstarted on a good note with robust demand for summer tyres. However, weak sales of wintertyres in the previous fiscal resulted in a high leftover inventory impacting the wintertyre sales numbers in Europe in this fiscal. A warm European winter compounded the woes ofthe industry leading to a successive decline for the past two years.
Low rubber demand due to overall industry weakness and the slow pace of the worldeconomy saw raw material prices remaining soft during the year with further decline duringthe second half of the financial year.
South Africa is slowly recovering from the global financial crisis and recession of2008-09. While the country has seen positive growth since 2010, the growth has been muchbelow its potential. CY13 saw the economy growing at a muted 1.9% as against 2.5% forCY12. A high rate of unemployment, pegged at 24%, continues to be a worrying factor forthe economy and the government.
Like the economy, the automobile industry grew at a lower rate of 4% for CY13 ascompared to 9% in the previous calendar year. The growth was led by the non-passengersegment which grew by 6% as against the subdued growth in the passenger vehicle segmentwhich inched by 2% only.
The automotive and ancillary industry is one of South Africas most importantindustries, contributing around 6% to the country's GDP. According to the AutomotiveIndustry Export Council, 2010, the automotive and component manufacturing segment directlyemploys more than 90,000 people and another 200,000 people are employed indirectly inretail and aftermarket activities.
With the effects of the automotive industry felt across the country, the government hasidentified this industry as a key growth sector. It has already exhibited significantgrowth under the Motor Industry Development Programme (MIDP), doubling in size since 1994.The successor to MIDP, the Automotive Production and Development Programme, which has beenimplemented from 2013, aims to stimulate the expansion of local production to 1.2- millionvehicles a year by 2020.
INDUSTRY STRUCTURE AND DEVELOPMENTS
According to data available from the industry body, Automotive Tyres ManufacturesAssociation, for nine months, it is estimated that the Indian tyre industry will have flatyear in FY14 as against the decline of 2% in FY13. Since a major percentage of the tyresales are related to the health of the automobile industry, the slowdown in the industryhas hit the OEM segment hard. Barring the tractor segment (growth of 22%) and thetwo/three wheeler segment (up by 7%), other segments in the automobile industry remainedin the negative zone. Clearly the impact was felt in OEM sales for tyre companies asdemand by auto majors fell drastically. However, the auto industry boom in 2009-11insulated the tyre players from the slower OEM demands as the replacement segmentcushioned and offered relief to the tyre companies. As the economic expansion was led byagriculture, the data for nine months shows a strong growth for tractors tyres (rear andtrailer).
It was a mixed FY14 for the tyre industry in Europe. After a weak start in the firstquarter, the last quarter saw a double digit growth for nearly all segments. Thereplacement market saw resurgence in demand with a 5% improvement, as per data fromIndustry Associations in Europe. This was against a contraction in demand in FY13.Countries like France, Italy, UK and Spain led this recovery. However the growth wouldhave been much higher but for the depressed winter tyre sales which declined by 2%.Germany, The Netherlands and Poland continued to be on the descending slope.
The agricultural tyre market showed a better performance compared to FY13, with a 5%growth. Trade data confirms high imports of consumer tyres from China and a significantincrease in the imports in the truck segment. In general, imports from outside theEuropean Union are growing in all categories especially in the truck segment, where theyconstitute about 20% of the total European market.
The five tyre majors in South Africa Apollo Tyres, Sumitomo, Bridgestone, Continentaland Goodyear, are the dominant players in the South African market. Despite the presenceof the global tyre majors, cheaper imports account for more than 55% of tyre sales in thecommercial and passenger cars segments for CY13 (data for nine months only). As importshave crept up to an unhealthy level of over 30%, it has impacted the local tyremanufacturers creating excess and idle capacity. Low capacity utilisation has made localtyres less competitive as compared to imported tyres. Compounding the problem of importsand low utilisation, South African tyre manufacturers are grappling with high labour costwhich is the most expensive rate per person per ton of raw rubber in the tyremanufacturing industry. Very high power cost is further adding to the woes of the localmanufacturers. These challenges have allowed East Asian countries to make substantialinroads into the local market because of their low tyre production costs.
Further, major global automobile manufacturers have established their production orassembly plants in the country to address the growing domestic and global demand and havecontinuously launched new vehicle models in the domestic market. Also, activeparticipation from the Government has led to the formation of various trade agreementssuch as SADC (Southern African Development Community), EAC (East African Community),COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa), etc, and these have helped thecountry in establishing itself as a manufacturing base for automotive products. However,for the tyre manufacturer, low cost imports continue to be the bugbear and if correctivesteps are not taken by the government, the industry can be in a serious jeopardy.
The year saw Apollo Tyres closing the transaction with Sumitomo Rubber Industries(SRI), wherein SRI took over Apollo's subsidiary, Apollo Tyres South Africa, including theLadysmith passenger car tyre plant, the Dunlop brand rights that Apollo had in 32countries of Africa and sales and distribution network in South Africa. Apollo Tyresretains its Durban plant which manufactures Truck & Bus Radial (TBR) tyres and OffHighway tyres (OHT) used in the mining and construction industries.
1. Apollo Tyres has the advantage of a diversified market base across 3 geographies andis therefore, not dependent on a single domestic market. Furthermore, the company isworking to establish operations in other large international markets as well.
2. The company is powered by strong products and brands in its marketsApollo and Vredestein.
3. Apollo Tyres enjoys an extensive distribution network for its key brands across itsdomestic markets.
4. In Europe, the companys brand Vredestein has a establishedpresence and enjoys premium positioning in ultra high performance (UHP) and winterpassenger car tyre segments.
5. The company is a leading player in the Indian commercial vehicle segment whichaccounts for the bulk of the industrys revenue. Simultaneously, since the companyassumed a lead early on, Apollo is best positioned to maintain its pole position in theTruck-Bus Radial segment and drive growth through the same.
6. The companys leadership is widely recognised for its dynamism and progressiveoutlook.
7. The creation of ultra-modern Research & Development facilities for passenger andcommercial vehicles will play a key role in bringing cutting-edge technology andinnovation in the development of tyres for the company.
1. India has a large and growing 2-3 wheeler tyre segment. However, Apollo does notmanufacture tyres for this category and continues to focus on passenger and commercialvehicle tyres.
2. At times, the company is unable to pass on cost escalations to consumers, due tointense competition and various market dynamics. This has a direct impact on the margins.
1. In India, Apollo Tyres enjoys a first mover advantage in the Truck-Bus Radialsegment and has a healthy lead over its competitors in terms of capacityand market share.The companys entry in the said segment has meant that it can now provide itscustomers with complete solutions for their requirements in the commercial vehiclecategory where Apollo Tyres has been an acknowledged leader for a long time.
2. The companys Apollo branded passenger vehicle tyres are being sold in Europeand this could develop into a sizeable market for the same, leveraging its alreadyexisting network in Europe.
3. The company is making forays to grow its presence in new geographies like SouthAmerica, Australia and South East Asia. These could be growth avenues for the future.
4. The company can convert excess bias capacity into industrial tyres capacity and tapinto a new product segment.
5. The company is talking to Auto majors for OEM fitments in Europe. This wouldestablish the brand even more strongly and drive significant growth in the European marketspecifically and subsequently in other global markets.
1. Economic downturn or slowdown in the key markets Europe and India can lead todecreased volumes and capacity utilisation.
2. Increased competition from global players like Continental, Michelin and Bridgestonein India, particularly in the truck-bus radial tyre category.
3. A quicker than expected decline in volumes within the truck-bus cross ply segment,resulting in redundant capacities that need investment to convert into other productsegments.
4. Continued threat of raw material price volatility translating into pressure onmargins during a quick rise in raw material prices.
SEGMENT WISE PERFORMANCE
In an otherwise insipid tyre industry story, the replacement market has emerged as thetrue hero. Further, as the country is witnessing radialisation, Apollo, with itsleadership position in the Truck-Bus Radial (TBR) segment, posted a healthy volume growthof 41% in the TBR replacement segment. Positive growth in the passenger car replacementsegment at 10% also helped the company to offset the decline in the OEM volumes in almostall segments. In FY14, the Indian operations revenue at Rs. 86,101 million accounted for62% of the company's total revenue. The subdued Indian auto market saw a flat sales forthe Indian operations as it posted a growth of 1.2%. However a better product mix coupledwith strong replacement market sales and stable raw material prices helped in increasingthe net margins to 5.1%, up from 3.7% in the previous year.
For Apollo Tyres India operations, the year began with the launch of Apollo 4Grange of tyres for passenger vehicles. These tyres are the most advanced range of hightechnology passenger vehicle tyres across segments. To further strengthen its productoffering in India, the Indian operations launched its premium European brand, Vredestein,in India to cater to high-end cars and SUVs. In the Off Highway Tyres segment, anaggressive approach helped the company launch a slew of products for the segment. Theseincluded a new farm product range, Krishak Gold, product for the specialty segment Rowcrop and sub 30 HP tractor among others. The Indian operations also launched the new XMRwith livebond steer mile technology which offered the lowest cost of ownership and 10%more total tyre life than any premium bias rib product in the market. This was followed upby a robust trade and consumer programs to ensure a strong growth in the segment. In thecommercial vehicles segment, apart from new product introductions, the company launchedits Refreshed Network Program to post growth and increase market share in most segments.
The company has been looking at new markets and further consolidated its presence inexisting markets. To tap the high potential ASEAN market, Apollo Tyres opened its salesoffice in Bangkok, Thailand. After Dubai for the Middle East region, this was the secondHome Market outside the companys operations in India, The Netherlandsand South Africa. Apollo Tyres concept of Home Market for Thailand hashelped move the top line northwards and also strengthen its market position. During theyear, the company expanded into new geographies as its products were available incountries like Qatar, Jordan, etc. In line with its strategy of the right productfor the right market, the company identified and launched products suited to variouscountries. For instance, while the company focuses on truck-bus bias for Indonesia, it hasdecided to look at truck-bus radial for Thailand.
The company continued to ramp its branding presence in India and other parts of theworld. The company tied up with global football club, Manchester United and launched ahigh-decibel brand There are no Shortcuts campaign in India during the year.
Despite the tough market conditions in Europe, Apollos European operationsmanaged to achieve a top line growth in FY14 over FY13. Passenger car tyre sales volumegrew by 17% and agriculture tyres remained stable. Importantly, the European operationswith a better product mix, has reduced its high dependence on winter tyres. A stronggrowth in summer and all season tyres helped the company to offset lower sales of wintertyres. Further, with a better sales mix, Apollo has managed to increase its average salesprice. Predominantly a replacement market player in Europe, 79% of the companysEurope revenues came from this segment while the balance was accounted by the OEM segment.The passenger car tyre segment constituted 84% of total revenue and agriculture tyresconstituted 13% of total revenue.
During the FY14, Apollos European operations were abuzz with activities with thelaunch of new products and introduction of size extensions for the passenger tyre segmentin Europe. In June 2013, the Vredestein Wintrac Xtereme S was launched during a dealerevent at Giugiaro Design in Turin, Italy. Before the onset of the winters for 2013-14, theApollo Alnac Winter was introduced in the market. Multiple products were launched and sizeextensions were introduced at the Auto Salon Geneva in March 2014 including the ApolloApterra (4x4/ SUV), Apollo Apterra HL, Vredestein Sportrac 5, Ultrac Vorti and UltracVorti R.
New sizes in Vredestein agricultural and Apollo industrial tyres became available,including a pre-launch of Vredestein Faktor S (the new cross ply tractor rear tyre) at theAgritechnica in Germany. At the Eurobike Friedrichshafen in Germany, a complete new lineof racing bike tyres, the Vredestein Fortezza Senso, was successfully introduced. Thecompany completed the first phase of expansion of production facilities of passenger carand agriculture tyres during the year. Also, the state of the art Tandem mixer wassuccessfully commissioned. Introduction of Tandem mixer in the companys productionfacilities will enhance the technological offering of the products.
The company launched the project Dandelion Rubber and Inulin Valorisation andExploitation for the EU (DRIVE4EU) in close collaboration with researchorganisations and industrial partners. This project aims at the development of theproduction chain of natural rubber and Inulin from Russian dandelions. Accordingly, theproject will demonstrate the economic feasibility of the use of Russian dandelion as aproduction platform for both natural rubber and Inulin.
During the year, a newly developed and patented, adaptive automotive system waslaunched in the market. A variable front spoiler made with specially developed EPDM(ethylene propylene diene monomer) rubber was launched. This combines the flexibility toadapt to the required aerodynamics in all weather conditions and ambient temperatures withthe strength and elasticity to withstand impact damage from road particles. Thisdevelopment demonstrates our innovative capabilities and creates a new market for ourrubber-technology.
Apollos South African operations saw a drop in sales and production volumes forall segments, if compared to CY12. Due to Apollos sales of business to SRI, theproduction and sales numbers for passenger cars are only for 8 months. Further, as per theagreement with SRI, Apollo has started supplying to SRI and hence saw its export volumesand numbers drop and these are partly reflected in the domestic numbers.
Given a strong distribution network in the South African market, bulk of the revenuesfor Apollos South African operations came from the replacement segment and accountedfor over 67% of total revenues, as against 65% for FY13. Revenues from exports tocountries including East & West Africa and Latin America were pegged at 31% of totalrevenues.
In terms of product segments, the Truck and Bus business was the major contributor toApollos South African operations and accounted for 47% of the total business ascompared to 40% in FY13.
Leading agencies like the National Council of Applied Economic Research, AsianDevelopment Bank and the World Bank continue to believe in the 'India Growth' story.According to these agencies, growth for FY15 is projected between 5.1-5.7%. The economicexpansion coupled with other factors like interest rate cuts, improvement in the sentimentpost the general elections and conversion of deferred purchases in FY14 to actual saleswould give a fillip to the automobile segment. This in turn is expected to inject lifeback into the OEM tyre sales for tyre majors. The tyre industry will continue to rely onthe replacement and new export markets to cushion any fall from the OEM segment.
Apollos Indian operations is expected to grow with the pace of the Indian marketand maintain its leadership position. The company has identified segments where it seesgrowth and will build capacity to cater to those segments. As radialisation becomespervasive in India, the company will convert its truck bias capacity and move towardsother product segments like industrial tyres in the next few years.
In Europe, a double digit growth number in the last quarter for the tyre segment and anoverall positive sentiment in the second half of FY14 at an economic activity level havegiven the much needed optimism. Further, Europe has emerged from its debt crisis thanks toa series of central bank actions. This is giving confidence to leaders/economists topredict a positive Euro zone GDP growth for CY15. However, high rates of unemployment andthe Russia-Ukraine crisis can pose a challenge to the growth story.
The outlook for Apollo Tyres European operations continues to be positive. ApolloTyres sees the replacement tyre market continuing on a growth path, albeit in a limitedmanner. Market expansion for both brands Apollo and Vredestein, will continue to be thekey focus for the company. Even as brand Apollo is being pushed deeper into Europeanmarkets, leveraging on the strength of the Vredestein brand, the latter is being launchedin markets like India, Far East and Middle East. With its premium position, brandVredestein is well positioned to further strengthen its position in Europe.
The Companys multi-product strategy is further supporting its multi-brandstrategy even as new products are being developed and introduced in the market, especiallyin brand Apollos TBR and Industrial tyres segment.
A laser sharp focus on distribution network expansion, product range enhancement andconsumer marketing along with leveraging the Manchester United association will form thecore of the sales strategy across all tyre segments.
To be in the market for a long haul and have a higher market share, it is important tobuild additional capacities in the region. Further, significant investment has also beenapproved to ensure that the Enschede plant can serve as the OEM hub for the market. TheCapex plan for FY15 also focuses on upgradation, efficiency & productivity improvementand cost reductions. The company will be implementing a region wide SAP ERP system tobring in efficiency improvement by eliminating duplicate activities, improving internalcontrols, enabling faster decision making and sharing best practices.
While the year saw muted growth in South Africa, the government is keen to boost theeconomy and has planned a slew of measures over the next five years. The government wouldfocus its efforts on economic growth, backed up by increased investment in electricity andtransport infrastructure. Also, the government has a multi-prong strategy to tackle thehigh rate of unemployment and plans to create six-million work opportunities over the nextfive years. The governments job-creation plan aims at establishing Special EconomicZones, offering industrial incentives, supporting small agriculture and labour-intensivesectors and stepping up the implementation of the Expanded Public Works Programme, amongother steps.
From a tyre industry perspective, the South Africa Tyre Market Forecast &Opportunities, 2019, mentions that the South African tyre market is expected towitness phenomenal growth over the next five years due to increasing exports and domesticsales of automobiles coupled with the demand for tyres in the replacement market. The tyremarket in South Africa is projected to grow at a CAGR of around 9% during 2014-19. Thepresence of major auto OEMs is expected to drive the tyre demand in OEM as well as in thereplacement market due to the presence of large vehicle park in the country. Further,other geographies, where Apollo is present, are set to have growth in the coming yearsafter a long period of sluggish growth due to the economic meltdown. All these geographieshave inherent strengths and have a growing middle income class with aspirations.
To cater to the growing demand for the companys products, the company isexploring organic and inorganic options to expand its production capacities across variousregions.
RISKS AND CONCERNS
The impact of the key risks and opportunities listed below has been identified througha formal process driven by Apollos Risk Management Steering Committees. Thecompanys approach has allowed for a systematic appraisal of the business environmentit operates in and a response aimed at capitalising and maximising benefits for all itsoperations.
1. Raw material price volatility
a. Natural rubber is an agricultural commodity and is subject to price volatility andproduction concerns.
b. Most other raw materials are crude linked and are affected by the movement in crudeprices. Any increase in crude oil prices may impact prices of some of the raw materials.
c. Both natural rubber and crude prices are controlled by external environment andlittle can be done to control the raw material price movement internally.
2. Ability to pass on increasing cost
a. Demand supply situation must remain in favour of the industry to enable it toundertake price increases.
b. In India, however, this is impacted by competitive activities and a generalreluctance to take quick and significant price hikes.
c. In South Africa, imports have a significant market share, across categories, whichto an extent, makes it difficult to roll out price hikes.
3. Continued economic growth
a. Demand in the tyre industry is dependent on economic growth and/or infrastructuredevelopment. Any slowdown in the economic growth across regions impacts the fortunes ofthe industry.
b. In Europe, the companys winter tyre sales are subject to seasonalrequirements, which can be impacted in case of a mild winter season.
4. Radialisation levels in India
a. Slower increase in radialisation level in the truck tyre segment, than expected, mayimpact Indian operations. Excess capacity may result in competitive pressures and declinein profit.
b. At the same time an unexpected quicker increase in the level of radialisation canresult in redundancy of cross ply capacities and create a need for fresh investments.
5. Future Growth
a. Lower profitability due to some of the above factors impacts the ability to investin future growth.
b. Increased competition from global players like Continental, Michelin and Bridgestonein India, particularly in the truck-bus radial tyre category.
6. Manpower retention
a. Retaining skilled personnel may become increasingly difficult in India, due to theentry of global majors like Michelin and Bridgestone in the tyre industry.
7. Labour activism
a. Increased labour activism across India may pose a challenge for any manufacturingorganisation.
8. Raw material availability
a. Given the high dependence on a single raw material natural rubber, lack ofalternatives is a cause of concern.
INTERNAL CONTROL AND SYSTEMS
Apollo Tyres has a robust Internal Control framework, which has been institutedconsidering the nature and size of its business. The framework comprises, inter alia, of awell-defined organisation structure, roles and responsibilities, documented policies andprocedures etc. This is complemented by a management information and monitoring system,which ensures compliance to internal processes, as well as with applicable laws andregulations. The operating management is not only responsible for revenue andprofitability, but also for maintaining financial disciple and hygiene.
In order to ensure efficient Internal Control systems, the company also has a wellestablished in-house Internal Audit function that is responsible for providing assuranceon compliance with operating systems, internal policies and legal requirements, as well assuggesting improvements to systems and processes. The Internal Audit prepares a rollingannual internal audit plan, comprising of operational, financial, compliance andinformation systems audits, covering all the locations of the company. The audit plan forthe year is reviewed and approved by the Audit Committee at the beginning of eachfinancial year.
The Internal Audit reports on a quarterly basis to the Audit Committee, the keyinternal audit observations and action plan agreed/taken by the management, the status ofaudits vis-a-vis the approved annual audit plan and status of open audit issues.
The year under consideration also saw a large number of initiatives being undertaken bythe Information Services function. Key deliverables for the year included the following:
a. Deployment of the Plant Detailed Scheduling System at the Gujarat manufacturing unitin India. This programme ensures higher utilisation of equipment by keeping control andtraceability of the work-in-progress components, order based manufacturing as well asprocess control within the plants.
b. Deployment of SAP and Lotus Notes for the new R&D centre in Enschede, TheNetherlands.
c. Deployment of mobility solutions