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  • Sampath Reddy

    CIO, Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance
    He has over 20 years of experience in the investment management industry. Prior to Bajaj Allianz, he was fund manager at Principal Mutual Fund. He has also worked as equity research analyst with HSBC Securities and ABN Amro Asia Equities during his long innings in the industry.

Is a capex recovery on the cards?

Consumption sector has been a key contributor of earnings growth over the past few years.

ET CONTRIBUTORS|
Jun 04, 2019, 08.52 PM IST
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The recovery in capex cycle will be primarily led by public investment and government expenditure.
The NDA has won general elections with a solid majority, and the strong mandate will help in continuity of reforms by the government.

With elections out of the way, the focus will now shift to what reforms the government will undertake in its second term. The fledgling capex or investment cycle may be one, the government may choose to focus on going ahead, to help revive India’s growth trajectory.

We are seeing some signs of recovery in the capex cycle as indicated by gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) or investments (as a percentage of GDP), which has bottomed out and has been gradually recovering for the past few quarters. The government’s own think-tank body (NITI Aayog), has outlined in its strategy for New India report that the target is to raise the investment rate (or GFCF) from around 29 pe cent of GDP in FY18 to 36 per cent of GDP by FY23. This will require a slew of measures, and a boost to both private and public investment.

Private capex is still lackluster, but what is the way forward?
Most of the capex recovery till now has been led by public investment/expenditure, while private investment/capex is still languishing. Historical data also shows that private fixed capital formation (corporate investment) has typically seen a quick recovery post elections.

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A key source of funding for private sector capex is banks/financial institutions (80 per cent long term average of total funding mix). Bank credit growth has recovered quite significantly from its lows and credit to industry (which was flat to negative) has recovered since late 2018. This should be beneficial for private sector capex in the longer run. Capacity utilisation has also picked up and reached more optimum levels (near the long term average). As we see capacity utilization pick up further, we may see the private sector participating more in capex and announce more investments, although it may be still some time away—until we see a more broad-based recovery.

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Other data pointing to an early recovery in capex / investment
Order inflows of large industrial/capital goods companies is also showing signs of bottoming out. Analysis of corporate data shows that the five largest industrial companies have seen some recovery in their order inflows over the past few quarters. Even at the micro level, some of the industrial equipment & consumable companies (such as pumps, electrodes, and compressors) have shown healthy performance in the last quarter.

Also, capital goods imports into India is also seeing a healthy recovery, indicating strong demand from domestic companies. Capital goods imports is now the third largest component of overall imports into India in FY19, after oil imports and electronic goods.

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Conclusion
From a market perspective, consumption sector has been a key contributor of corporate earnings growth over the past few fiscal years, and we expect that the capital goods/industrial sector will see an increased contribution in overall corporate earnings growth, going forward.

The recovery in capex cycle will be primarily led by public investment and government expenditure, and the government has been increasing planned outlay expenditure to key ministries like roads & highways and railways especially. However, some impetus and reforms is also needed from government, to help revive private investment, and make it a more meaningful contributor—going forward.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of www.economictimes.com.)
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