Metal stocks rise over past 3 month on demand recovery

As the Indian stock market has been on a bull run in the past few months despite the ongoing economic slowdown and the pandemic concerns, metal stocks have been among the shining segments in the market, with revival in both domestic and global demand.

The S&P BSE Metal index has risen over 20 per cent during the past three months. On Wednesday, it closed at 8,777.27 points, registering a 1.26 per cent gain over the previous session.

A report by Kotak Institutional Equities showed that steel price buoyancy continues to drive upgrades among the metal stocks, and domestic steel price uptrend continues in September 2020 with prices now up Rs 5,500 per tonne, 16 per cent since the June 2020 lows.

“China’s stimulus and relative absence from export markets is supporting steel prices globally. We see India continuing to benefit from domestic demand recovery, declining exports dependence and improving regional competitiveness led by domestic iron ore,” it said.

Spot steel margins are back to FY2019 levels and should sustain in coming quarters, as per Kotak.

Further, a strong stimulus-led demand recovery in China and lower exports have underpinned a recovery in steel prices across the globe. Regional prices have increased by 15-18 per cent in the past two months led by improving demand and iron ore cost push.

Europe, although lagging other regions, too has seen a 3-5 per cent price increase in the past few weeks.

The report noted that although domestic steel demand in FY2021 till August was down 38 per cent on a year on year basis, a gradual sequential recovery is “encouraging”. Primary steel producers are actively switching back to domestic markets with exports being reduced.

“We expect domestic demand run-rate to return to pre-Covid levels by November-December 2020 and exports to continue to decline. Lower exports further raise blended realisations although the gap has now narrowed,” it said.

Steel companies also have performed well off late and Jindal Steel & Power Ltd’s standalone steel sales were up by 37 per cent (YoY) in August 2020.

Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), on the other hand posted its “best ever August sales” performance during August 2020 at 14.34 lakh tonnes.

“Post the Covid-19 related lockdown, the company has been witnessing an impressive sales performance which started in June 2020. The sales in August have grown significantly by 35 per cent over 10.60 lakh tonnes achieved in August 2019,” SAIL had said in a recent statement.