Data from the Peruvian cement association (ASOCEM) presents a potential bounce in the fortunes of the local industry in March 2017. Cement production rose slightly year-on-year to 0.79Mt. This is the first monthly rise since July 2016. The first quarter of 2017 as a whole is down by 4.5% year-on-year to 2.35Mt but any fillip is surely welcome.
Graph 1: Cement production in Peru, 2012 – 2016. Source: ASOCEM.
Graph 1 shows that production peaked in 2014. Although it has fallen since then it is still above the level in 2012. Cementos Pacasmayo blamed the overall fall in 2016 on a strong end to 2015 associated with El Niño prevention investments although, given that its production volumes also fell in 2015, albeit slightly, it may be being optimistic in its analysis. It also blamed the widening fallout from the Brazilian Petrobras corruption scandal for delaying investment by the Peruvian government on an infrastructure drive.
Graph 2: Cement and clinker imports to Peru, 2014 – 2016. Source: ASOCEM/SUNAT.
Another point to examine in ASOCEM’s latest release is the import figures as can be seen in Graph 2. Overall cement and clinker import volumes have hovered around 10 – 15% of local production but the ratios have changed since 2014, with a focus on ground cement. Cementos Pacasmayo provided one possible reason in its fourth quarter report for 2016 with the news that it had started replacing imported clinker with its own clinker as it increased production at its new Piura plant. Most of this cement has been coming from Vietnam through 2015 and 2016. Coincidentally, Vietnam’s General Department of Vietnam Customs has reported this week that local exports of cement and clinker are up by 11% to 4.82Mt for the first quarter of 2017 and that Peru is one of the top destinations. Also of note in February 2017 was a significant cement import of 30,800t from China following no imports from that country in 2016 and most of 2015.
Recent production and import trends aside, the Peruvian cement industry’s industry base hasn’t changed much since last time this column coved it (GCW183, January 2015). The country has three main producers – UNACEM, Cementos Pacasmayo and Grupo Gloria – who operate 49%, 43% and 8% respectively of the local 11.4Mt/yr production capacity. They each operate production units in north-south geographical bands in the country with Pacasmayo in the north, UNACEM in the central coastal region near to Lima and Gloria’s subsidiaries in the south.
As mentioned above, Cementos Pacasmayo has been increasing production at its newer Piura plant since mid-2015. Gloria Group purchased Cementos Otorongo, a project to build a cement plant in the south, from Votorantim in mid-2016 and Cemex was reported as having gained government approval for a grinding plant project in Lima in early 2016. On the financial side, UNACEM’s income fell by 4% to US$573m in 2016. Cementos Pacasmayo’s sales fell slightly to US$381m and its earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for its cement operations fell by 4.6% to US$118m.
Like lots of African countries the outlook for the construction industry in Peru is good in the medium term with plenty of scope for development and a growing economy despite a contraction of 6% in the construction industry in 2016. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate hit a low of 2.4% in 2014 but it has since started to pick up again. Once or if the Kuczynski administration starts spending on infrastructure then all the signs should point to growth in the cement industry. Given the amount of clinker sloshing around the world if any producers actually start opening terminals or grinding plants this would suggest they are confident of a return on investment.