Indian Engineering Industry Report - Engineering Sector Research & Analysis in India - Equitymaster
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Engineering Sector Analysis Report 

[Key Points | Financial Year '18 | Prospects | Sector Do's and dont's]

  • Engineering is a diverse industry with various segments. A company from this sector can be a power equipment manufacturer (like transformers and boilers), execution specialist for Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) projects or a niche player (e.g.: providing environment friendly solutions like waste water and air pollution treatment plants). The company can also be an electrical, non-electrical machinery or static equipment manufacturer too.
  • India was the world's eighth largest consumer of machine tools globally, as of 2017. Capacity creation in sectors such as infrastructure, power, mining, oil and gas, refinery, steel, automotive and consumer durables is driving demand in the engineering sector.
  • Order book size is the biggest determinant of the company's performance in engineering sector. The same holds true for construction companies as well. It indicates companies' revenue visibility. In order to bag big contracts, companies need to have a strong balance sheet and proven execution capabilities. Companies in these sectors need huge working capital to execute bigger contracts. In most cases, they receive only part payment at initial stages and the remaining comes as projects get executed.
  • Indian capital goods manufacturers have been facing competition from foreign players; particularly Chinese and Korean manufacturers since the onset of 11th five-year plan. Currently, despite increased domestic capacities, low cost foreign manufacturers still give tough competition to domestic manufactures in some segments of the industry.
  • Power sector contributes almost 70-75% to the engineering companies' revenues. The government plans to add large generation as well as transmission and distribution (T&D) capacities in view of the long-term paucity of power in the country. Barring the short-term challenges, there is enormous potential for the engineering majors in the power space, though renewables have been giving a tough time to makers of traditional power generation equipment.
  • Given the lack of quality infrastructure in India, the construction industry has over the long term been witness to a strong growth wave powered by large spends on housing, road, ports, water supply, rail transport and airport development. The sector's growth has however remained quite subdued over the past few years – especially when compared to the boom years. A big reason for this is the stalling of various big-ticket projects in recent years due to myriad reasons. Infrastructure is also a key area of operation for major Indian engineering companies.

How to Research the Engineering Sector (Key Points)

  • Supply
  • Supply is abundant across most of the segments, except for technology intensive executions. However, supply of equipments face bottlenecks such as logistics and lack of manpower for timely assembly and erection of equipments; etc.
  • Demand
  • Demand growth in this sector is fuelled by expenditure in core sectors such as power, railways, infrastructure development, private sector investments and the speed at which the projects are implemented. The pipeline for projects is down to a trickle due to the current slowdown in private investment and the pace of project execution has been lumpy in the year gone by due to many delays in execution and cash crunch on the part of clients.
  • Barriers to entry
  • Barriers to entry are high at upper end of the industry as skilled manpower and technologies as well as ability to execute large projects are a prerequisite in engineering sector. However, in few construction businesses like road business, which are not very technologically inclined, the company's expertise in execution is the key differentiator.
  • Bargaining power of suppliers
  • Bargaining power of suppliers is low because of intense competition amongst them. However, in technology driven high-end segments, suppliers have the upper hand.
  • Bargaining power of customers
  • Bargaining power for technology driven and highly skilled segments is low. However, fierce competition has increased bargaining power of customers in power generation and T&D equipments.
  • Competition
  • Majority of the companies compete in terms of pricing, experience in specific field, quality of equipment, capabilities with respect to size of projects that can be handled and timely execution. Nevertheless, competition is higher in the industry as companies of all sizes have been trying to move towards scaling up their technology and capacity.

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Financial Year '18

  • Engineering exports from India grew 16.8% to US$ 76,204.4 million in FY18 from US$ 65,239.2 million in FY17. Exports grew 11.2% year-on-year to reach US$ 46.4 billion during Apr-Oct 2018.
  • During FY08–FY18, engineering exports from India registered growth at a CAGR of 8.5%.
  • Engineering exports include transport equipment, capital goods, other machinery/equipment and light engineering products such as castings, forgings and fasteners.
  • Several companies in the engineering sector have diversified, either geographically (mainly to Middle Eastern countries) or sector-wise. BHEL plans to foray into Ukraine, Simplex Infra has moved to the Middle East, Larsen and Toubro (L&T) has diversified into power equipment manufacturing, Thermax entered the power utility segment.
  • The Infrastructure Supporting Industries Index (part of the wider Index of Industrial Production) comprises eight core industries: coal, crude oil, natural gas, petroleum refinery products, fertilizers, steel, cement and electricity. The index rose to 125.7 in FY18, implying a growth rate of 4.3% in the year.

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Prospects

  • World class infrastructure is of utmost importance for unleashing high and sustained growth. In fact, it is the long-term driver for the construction sector as well. While short term factors may keep sentiments subdued, over the long term, demand will remain strong. The government’s stated commitment to improving the country’s infrastructure should translate into business for construction companies as and when the black clouds clear-up. However, assimilation of goods and services tax across the rank and file of industry and the low demand environment are likely to push a whole-hearted recovery in capital investments further into the future.
  • From a policy perspective there has been a growing consensus that a private-public partnership is required to remove difficulties concerning the development of infrastructure in the country. The realisation finally seems to be setting in with numerous variations of BOT (build, operate and transfer) projects being awarded to various private sector companies. The government has also put in place dispute resolution mechanisms for PPP projects. The long-term future of the Indian engineering and construction sector remains promising.
  • Any government initiatives to bring clarity to power sector reforms are welcome. As per Government official reports, regulatory delays have stalled projects large projects in the road, power, coal and mining sectors. The government has been working on trying to fast track large sized infrastructure projects. It will work to expedite these projects which have been stalled due to delay in clearances, funding and various other reasons. These initiatives may help revive the Engineering and Construction sector going forward.
  • Allocation to the defence sector was raised to US$45.6 billion under Union Budget 2018-19. In addition, make in India policy is being carefully pursued to achieve greater self-sufficiency in the area of defence equipment including air-craft. Government initiatives, such as allowing private sector participation, have been reinforced by opening up the sector to 100% FDI (49% through automatic route), and its offset policy is expected to enhance private sector (including SME) participation.
  • Ministry of Defence has eased its procurement norms, making it easier for Indian companies and start-ups to offer equipment and other products to the Indian armed forces.

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Related Links for Engineering Sector
Quarterly Results | Sector Quote | Over The Years

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