After weak Q4 results, Q1 may also be lackluster for Indian Oil stock | News on Markets

After weak Q4 results, Q1 may also be lackluster for Indian Oil stock | News on Markets
After weak Q4 results, Q1 may also be lackluster for Indian Oil stock | News on Markets

State-run Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL) reported a weak performance in the fourth quarter of FY24 (January-March 2024), and the turmoil in the energy market indicates it could endure another lackluster quarter.

The oil marketing company (OMC) reported an Ebitda of Rs 10,400 crore, down 27 per cent year-on-year (YoY) due to weak reported gross refining margin (GRM) of $8.4 per barrel in Q4FY24, which was almost half the consensus expectation of $15 per barrel.

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The petrochemical division also had a poor result with earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) loss of Rs 400 crore.

The core GRM per barrel in Q4FY24 was actually around $10.6 and the core GRM for FY25-26 could bottom out at $9.

However, the petchem division had an operating loss for the second successive quarter with weak spreads in key products like Polyethylene and Polypropylene.

The petchem cycle may not turn around until H2FY25.

The April marketing margins for OMCs are estimated to be around Rs 2 per liter on petrol and Rs 0.5 per liter on diesel, which is well below the earlier assumptions of above Rs 3 per liter for both products.

The difference between the reported GRM of $8.4 and core GRM of $10.6 can be attributed to the inventory loss of $2.2 per barrel during Q4FY24.

The refining throughput was around consensus at 18.3 million metric tonnes (MMT), down 4 per cent YoY.

The domestic sales volume was also in line with consensus at 23.7 MMT (up 3 per cent YoY). The petchem sales volume rose 18 per cent YoY to 0.80 MMT (versus 0.68 MMT in Q4FY23).

But along with an EBIT loss, petchem margins remained flat quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) during Q4FY24.

The Q4FY24 marketing margin (including inventory) was somewhat above estimates at Rs 5.2 per liter (vs Rs 4.5 per liter in Q3FY24).

While the Ebitda was down 27 per cent YoY, the reported profit after tax (PAT) stood at Rs 4,840 crore down 52 per cent YoY.

In FY24, Ebitda was up 2.4x YoY to Rs 69,400 crore, with a PAT of Rs 39,600 crore (versus PAT of Rs 8,200 crore in FY23).

Refining throughput for the financial year was up 1 per cent YoY to 73.3 MMT, with a reported GRM of $12.1 per barrel. The blended marketing margin stood at Rs 6 per liter (versus the loss of Rs 1.1 per liter in FY23).

IOCL had a cumulative negative net buffer of Rs 1,020 crore as of

March 2024 due to the under-recovery on LPG cylinders (where the retail selling price was less than the market-determined price).

The total cumulative uncompensated loss stood at Rs 4,800 crore.

There are several ongoing projects, which will be completed as follows: Gujarat refinery (18 MMT per annum) by October 2024, Barauni refinery (9 MMT per annum) by December 2024, and Panipat refinery (25 MMT per annum) by December 2025.

In Q1FY25, the benchmark Singapore GRM (per barrel) has declined to $4.1 (versus $7.3 during Q4FY24).

IOCL could see a downturn in GRM. Q1FY25 is likely to be difficult for OMCs, given the sharp correction in refining margins and auto fuel under-recoveries following the recent price cuts despite higher crude prices.

Furthermore, there’s no pricing power due to the long drawn-out election schedule. So, the OMCs may have to absorb losses. For IOCL, the weak petchem cycle is also a cause for concern.

Analysts mostly have ‘Reduce’ or ‘Sell’ recommendations with the few ‘Buy/ Hold’ recommendations being accompanied by downgrades in earnings and valuation estimates.

However, the share price has held firm — after falling 4.4 per cent on Tuesday (results came during market hours), it was up 2.6 per cent on Thursday.

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