The one Indian industry which is set for growth over the coming years is the Cement Industry. The worlds second largest cement producer (after China) reached its total installed capacity to 231 million tones after adding 11 million tones of capacity during the first half of 2009.
The main characteristics of this industry is that it is highly fragmented, cyclical and highly capital intensive. There are around 125 large and 300 small cement plants. Some of the leading cement manufacturers are UltraTech/Grasim combine, Dalmia Cements, India Cements and Holcim. Returns depend on the vibrancy of the economy as a whole as it directly affects the sales realization and capacity utilization.
The industry is heavily dependent on 3 sectors; coal, power and transport. Energy and freight are the two major cost components. Over the last few years, while the proportion of energy cost has increased marginally, freight costs have declined.
Increasing government expenditure on infrastructure sector and rising demand for commercial and residential real estate development has resulted in higher demand for cement in the country. According to a report by the ICRA Industry Monitor, the installed cement capacity is expected to increase to 241 million tones per annum by the end of 2010. It also expects that driven by higher domestic demand and increasing utilization, India’s cement industry may record an annual growth of 10% over the coming years.
Taking cue of the global economic slowdown which was affecting cement companies in India last year, Governments initiative to re-impose counter-veiling duty and special counter-veiling duty this year will help provide a level playing field for domestic players. Moreover, it also appointed a coal regulator to facilitate timely and proper allocation of coal blocks to the important sectors like cement. As coal is one of the prime raw material used in cement production, this seems to be a positive move.
Growth potential of cement industry can be judged by the fact that the per capita cement consumption (156 kg) in India is still well below the global average consumption (396 kg). This gap can be expected to be covered in the coming years. Besides, housing sector accounts for almost 50% of the total cement consumption in the country and the large young population will ensure that the demand for infrastructure stays put.
The rising cost of energy, transportation raw material continues to pressure the industry as a whole. To sustain profitability, companies will have to explore alternate source of energy while at the same time enhance their operational efficiency.
Industry experts opine that the cement industries should now increase their focus on investing adequately in developing human resources that will be capable enough to address the professional needs of construction industry including advanced technologies and construction practices, project management construction and litigation.
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