Ceat surprises positively with margin expansion
Q2 revenue grew 18% YoY (4% beat), with 7% volume growth and 10% improvement in ASP. Gross margin (GM) expanded 80 basis points sequentially to 32.5% (estimated at 32.0%), as price hikes offset cost pressure. EBITDA margin improved 110 basis points sequentially to 7.0% (70 basis points beat). Absolute EBITDA came in 16% above IIFL Securitiesâ€™ expectations, primarily driven by margin surprise.
Management guided to steady revenue growth in upcoming quarters, driven mainly by OE segment, as replacement growth has moderated. Starting Q3FY23, management expects flow-through of fall in input costs (Crude, Rubber) and also some lag benefit of price hikes. Analysts at IIFL Securities expect Ceatâ€™s margins to improve from current 7% to a normalized 10-11% range by Q4FY23.
MRFâ€™s margin continues to disappoint
MRFâ€™s Q2 revenue grew 18% YoY, and came in 4% above IIFL Securitiesâ€™ expectations. GM contracted 180 basis points sequentially to 29.7% (280 basis points miss), as price hikes fell short of rise in input costs. EBITDA margin contracted 40 basis points sequentially to 8.2% (230 basis points miss), due to GM pressure and higher employee cost. Absolute EBITDA came in 19% below IIFL Securitiesâ€™ estimate. High depreciation magnified PAT miss to 38%.
Here again, margins are likely to improve in coming quarters. However, the starting point for MRF is much lower than its normalized levels; hence, it would be an uphill task.
Revenue outlook steady
Going by the 4% top-line beat by both Ceat and MRF, the revenue outlook for the industry is steady. With a combination of volume growth and price hikes, analysts at IIFL Securities expect the industry to clock over 20% revenue growth in FY23. On the volume side, OE segment is very strong, but aftermarket and exports are soft.
Margin and earnings outlook very positive
The margin outlook for the industry is very positive, with input costs (Rubber, Crude) softening sequentially and the benefit of price hikes coming with a lag. Ceat management guided to 2.5-3.0% sequential fall in input cost basket in Q3; further moderation is expected in Q4. This comes after 8 quarters of sequential input cost pressure.
MRFâ€™s under-performance is a structural positive for the industry
Analysts at IIFL Securities, in their recent sector report, had highlighted three structural positives for the sector, one of which was MRFâ€™s underperformance. MRF has lagged the industry on growth in recent years. Its margin lead versus peers has come off substantially, as further reinforced in Q2 results. As a result, the pricing discipline in the industry has improved substantially (reflected in 30% ASP improvement in 2-3 years). MRFâ€™s low margin also lowers risk of price cuts when input costs fall.
Valuation and Recommendation
Analysts at IIFL Securities have upgraded Ceatâ€™s FY23/FY24/FY25 estimated EPS by 79%/16%/6% respectively, following these results. They have largely maintained MRFâ€™s estimates.
Apollo Tyres is IIFL Securitiesâ€™ top pick in this space, followed by Ceat.