Indian road logistics industry revenues to grow at 3-6% in FY2025: ICRA

The outlook for the sector continues to be stable, fuelled by sustained momentum in economic activities, enhanced traction of organised trade, and continued support from varied segments like e-commerce, FMCG, retail, pharmaceuticals, and industrial goods.

Autocar Pro News Desk By Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 08 Apr 2024 Views icon3616 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Indian road logistics industry revenues to grow at 3-6% in FY2025: ICRA

ICRA expects the revenues of the Indian road logistics industry to remain range-bound and grow at a pace of 3-6% in FY2025, given the limited ability of players to increase freight rates.

Other factors are the expected softening in government capex during the elections (given the Model Code of Conduct requirements), and moderation in consumer demand sentiments amid high inflation and interest rates.

The outlook for the sector continues to be stable, fuelled by sustained momentum in economic activities, enhanced traction of organised trade, and continued support from varied segments like e-commerce, FMCG, retail, pharmaceuticals, and industrial goods.

Suprio Banerjee, Vice President and Sector Head, Corporate Ratings, ICRA Limited, said: “ICRA’s sample set (10 listed companies in the sector) witnessed a modest revenue growth of 2.3% in 9M FY2024 on a year on year  basis amidst tapering demand due to high inflation, an uneven monsoon, a high interest rate regime, and a relatively muted festive season.

Thus, on an elevated base of FY2023, ICRA estimates a low single digit growth of 2-5% in FY2024. The growth for the road logistics sector in FY2025 is expected to be in the range of 3–6%, owing to the impact on demand from high inflation, a high-interest rate regime, and soft (though improving) consumer sentiment. The industry operating profit margin contracted to 11.2% in 9M FY2024 (down ~150 basis points YoY), on account of an increase in operating costs (ex-fuel) due to the high inflationary regime, and pressure on realisations, given the sticky retail diesel rates, limiting any formula-driven price rise.

ICRA expects the margins to remain in the range of 10.5–12.5% in FY2024 and FY2025 over 12.4% in FY2023 amidst inflationary headwinds and despite the benefits of efficiency gains due to increasing digitalization and value-added service offerings of industry players.

Key debt metrics like total debt and OPBITDA (operational ebitda) are expected to have moderated marginally to 1.5x–1.7x in FY2024 from 1.4x in FY2023 with rising operating costs (ex-fuel), given the persistently high inflation levels, increase in debt due to debt-funded capital expenditure for new vehicles, and an anticipated rise in lease liabilities due to expanding branch network and technology investments.”

The rating agency added that the e-way monthly volumes remained largely stable in the last four months, at above 85 million, post reporting all-time high volumes of 100 million in October 2023, signifying resilient domestic trade and transportation activities. The monthly FASTag volumes have also moved in tandem with the e-way bills, ranging from 295 to 350 million in the current fiscal, with an all-time peak of 348 million in December 2023, reflecting business continuity.

“Additionally, road logistics players also remain exposed to environmental and social risks. Tightening emission control norms necessitate alternative fuel vehicle investments or investments in the current fleet. They are also exposed to litigation/penalties arising from issues related to harmful emissions and waste, which may lead to financial implications and impact their reputation. The social risk includes driver shortage, health, safety, and quality of work-life balance for drivers,” Banerjee added.

 

 

Tags: ICRA
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