Shares of graphite electrode manufacturers including HEG and Graphite India have doubled in the past three months following a sharp 300% jump in global electrode prices. The momentum in these stocks is likely to continue given the sudden surge in electrode demand. Electrode prices have jumped four times in a year. They are used for manufacturing steel and ferro alloys through electric arc furnaces. EAF is more environment friendly and less polluting in comparison with conventional steel production through induction furnaces; the latter is prevalent in countries like India and China.
Earlier this year, China decided to shut down all its induction furnaces by the end of June, and according to HEG’s management, the total capacities shut down may have been 175 tonnes. In addition, China cracked down on several electrode manufacturers which were not environment-compliant, thus breaking the chain of electrode production. Although no official figures are available, according to HEG’s management, 150,000 tonnes of electrode capacities may have been shut in China, turning China into a net importer of electrodes from net exporters earlier.
This led spot prices of electrode to jump from USD 7,000 per tonne in June to USD 11,000 per tonne in July. Electrode manufacturers haven’t yet seen the benefits of this as they sign the contracts in the beginning of the calendar year, and are renewed every 6 to 12 months. In the beginning of the calendar year, the prices were around USD 3,000 per tonne
However, marginal benefit was seen in the June quarter numbers in terms of higher sales volume, thus resulting in better sales and higher earnings due to operating leverage.
Source : ECONOMIC TIMES
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