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ACC v/s Ambuja Cem: Which one is better? - Views on News from Equitymaster
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  • Mar 19, 2012

    ACC v/s Ambuja Cem: Which one is better?

    The cement industry went through a sea of change in the last couple of decades. In many ways, leading cement players ACC and Ambuja Cements represent this paradigm shift. As such, we have provided a comparative analysis of these leading cement players. In the next few articles, we will compare the two companies on several important parameters.

    Management quality

    Both ACC and Ambuja Cements are now controlled by Swiss-based Holcim Group, one of the most respected cement companies in the world. However, both have had very different beginnings.

    ACC is one of the oldest cement companies in India. It was born out a historic merger of 10 cement companies in 1936. Until some time back when the Aditya Birla Group consolidated its cement assets under UltraTech Cement, ACC was the largest cement manufacturer in India. In the latter part of the 20th century, ACC diversified into some other businesses and made some wasteful acquisitions. These businesses became a drag on the company's balance sheet. Between 1999 and 2000, the Tata Group sold off its entire 14.45% shareholding in ACC to subsidiary companies of Ambuja Cements. Effectively, the Ambuja Group became the single largest shareholder of ACC and took over management control. From the time Ambuja took over management control of ACC, it revamped the latter's business strategy. ACC decided to exit its non-cement businesses and focus on its main business.

    Ambuja Cements, on the other hand, entered the cement industry as late as 1983. Despite being a late-comer, Ambuja managed to grow into one of the largest and most profitable cement companies in the country. What is commendable about the company's management is the fact that it is has focussed purely on its cement business and used its cash quite prudently. It has resisted venturing into new businesses. This shows that the company's leader have been very clear in their vision.

    Cement capacity

    As of today, both the companies have almost a similar cement capacity. Ambuja Cements has 27.35 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of cement capacity. On the other hand, ACC is marginally ahead at 28.68 mtpa. Both Ambuja and ACC account for about 9.5% and 10% respectively of the total domestic cement industry. However, a major differentiating factor is the pace at which both companies have added additional capacity over the year. The chart below shows the cement capacities of the two companies since 1995.

    Source: Company Annual Reports

    As is evident from the chart, in 1995, ACC was the biggest cement company with a capacity of 9.5 mtpa. In comparison, Ambuja stood much lower at just 2 mtpa. Over these 16-17 years, while Ambuja has managed to grow its cement capacity at an impressive rate of 17.2% CAGR (compounded annual growth rate), ACC has added capacity at a much slower pace of just 6.8% CAGR.

    Utilisation rates

    Capacity addition must not be view in isolation. The other important parameter to watch along with it is capacity utilisation rate. Utilisation rate (Actual Production/Installed Capacity) measures how well a company utilises its capacities. If a company keeps on adding capacity despite low utilisation rates, it reflects management's inefficiency, lack of vision and frivolity. The chart below shows the utilisation rates of the two cement players.

    Source: Company Annual Reports

    Over the last 16-17 years, while ACC has reported an average capacity utilisation rate of 86%, Ambuja's average utilisation rate stands tall at 93%. During certain years, Ambuja managed to produce even more than its total installed capacity. So the company has not only added capacity at a rapid pace, but has also achieved high utilisation rates throughout most of its operating past. This shows the high level of efficiency in Ambuja's operations.

    Geographical spread

    Given that cement is a low-value bulk commodity, it is a freight intensive industry and transporting it over long distances can prove to be uneconomical. This has resulted in cement being largely a regional play with the industry divided into five main regions viz. north, south, west, east and the central region. Though both ACC and Ambuja have a pan-India presence, their sales distribution across different regions is quite distinct. While the southern and western markets together account for 45% of ACC's sales, the western region alone accounts for about 38% of Ambuja's sales. The southern region and central region account for only 2% and 5% respectively of Ambuja's sales. As a result of this, both the sister concerns avoid cannibalisation of their important markets.

    But how do the two companies rank in terms of financials and valuations? In the forthcoming articles, we will discuss more on this.

      Ankit Shah (Research Analyst) is the editor for Equitymaster Insider and Vivek Kaul's Inner Circle. A journalism graduate turned Research Analyst, Ankit joined Equitymaster when he was just 23 years old, right after getting his MBA from NMIMS, Mumbai. Having been an avid reader of Equitymaster's research through his college years, Ankit knew he would fit right in!

    In his seven years with Equitymsater, Ankit rose quickly, leaving his mark on almost everything from: Travelling thousands of miles to find the next small cap stock, as part of the Hidden Treasure team... Designing Equitymaster's Secrets, an online value investing course based on the company's 20-year journey... Bringing global investing ideas to Indian readers through Vivek Kaul's Inner Circle... Right to launching his brand-new service, Equitymaster Insider.

    Ankit is a firm believer in Charlie Munger's multidisciplinary approach on juggling between various disciplines...He is not just a research analyst, but also a voracious reader and an avid traveler...Born and brought up in Mumbai, he now prefers to keep away from the noisy megapolis as much as possible. In any given month, you could find him exploring the ancient ruins of South America, the beaches of South East Asia, or the organic cafes of Pondicherry.



    Equitymaster requests your view! Post a comment on "ACC v/s Ambuja Cem: Which one is better?". Click here!

    2 Responses to "ACC v/s Ambuja Cem: Which one is better?"

    Manmohan Singh

    Sep 25, 2013

    ACC Ltd. is the oldest company & its founder of cement industry in india. U can say "Old Is Gold"

    Like (9)

    manoj bhandari

    Mar 31, 2013

    ambuja cement is the best cement company in india.

    Like (11)
    Equitymaster requests your view! Post a comment on "ACC v/s Ambuja Cem: Which one is better?". Click here!

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