PACRA Maintains Entity Ratings of Popular Sugar Mills Limited
Pakistan’s sugar industry is the country's 2nd largest agro-based industry, comprising 90 mills with an annual crushing capacity estimated ~65–70mln MT. The industry is trying to overcome the supply challenges. However, support price, set by considering the cost incurred by farmers, remains a constraint. During MY21, the overall sugar production increased by 15%, YoY, to 5.6mln MT (MY20: 4.9mln MT) due to better crop availability and an increase in area under cultivation. The recent surge in local sugar prices was registered by the demand-supply gap. Previously, the sales tax levied on sugar was increased to 17% (previously 8%,) charged on the PKR 60/KG price, which contributed to higher prices. In the FY21 budget, a sales tax of 17% was proposed to be levied on the market retail price instead of PKR 60/kg. However, Government has allowed not to charge sales tax on market retail price till Nov-21. Moreover, in MY21 crushing season, the Government increased the support price of sugarcane to PKR 200 per maund (previously, it was increased to PKR 190 from PKR 180 per maund). Actual realized sugarcane prices at the mill gate were even higher. To meet the local demand and curb the hike in sugar prices, the Government planned to import 0.8mln MT of sugar. Out of this, 0.3mln MT has already been imported, till Jun-21. Lately, TCP approved to import another 0.1mln MT of sugar. Going forward, despite higher input costs, higher sugar prices are expected to remain favorable for millers.
The ratings reflect Popular Sugar Mills Limited's ('Popular Sugar' or 'the Company') adequate business profile. The Company posted a positive trend in revenues along with improved margins. Relatively lower sugarcane and higher procurement cost led to inflated sugar prices in local market resulting in better profits. Moreover, the Company’s profitability is supported through the sale of by-products. Financial profile of the Company remains adequate with modestly leveraged capital structure and improved coverages. However, mismatch in the debt mix persisted as the Company increased its reliance on short-term borrowings to fund its working capital needs. The rating incorporates group support for the entity, if the need arises.
The ratings are dependent upon the Company’s ability to maintain its margins, improve coverage's and rationalize short-term borrowings to avoid asset liability mismatch. Any significant deterioration in margins and/or cashflows will impact the ratings negatively. Meanwhile, strengthening of the governance framework and internal controls will be favorable for the ratings.
Popular Sugar Mills Limited is a public limited company. Popular Sugar acquired 100% shareholding of National Sugar Industries Limited in 2013. The Company operates a unit located at Jan Muhammad Wala, near Sargodha, having a crushing capacity of 8,000 tons per day. The Company is engaged in the manufacturing and sale of refined sugar and its by-products; molasses and bagasse. The total sugar production in MY21 stood at ~58,298MT with a recovery rate of ~9.6%.
Popular Sugar is a wholly owned company of the Popular Group of Industries (‘Popular Group’). Around 87% of the shares reside with other Group companies. While, remaining 13% of the stake vests with the individuals of Roshan and Malik family. The Company's Board is chaired by Mr. Imamuddin Shouqeen, whereas, Mr. Shahbaz Ali Malik heads the Company as the Chief Executive Officer. He is aided by a team of experienced professionals.