Phillips Carbon Black

From a blog…

The basic fundas

  • Carbon black is used mostly as a pigment, which finds vast application in the tyre industry, among others.
  • The basic raw material for carbon black is carbon black feedstock (CBFS), which can be obtained in 2 ways; from oil refineries (Indian way of doing things) or through the coal tar distillation route (Chinese way of doing things!). The price of CBFS obtained from oil refineries is directly linked to crude prices.
  • Well, it so happened that due to increase in crude prices, the Indian way of making carbon black became more expensive than the Chinese way.As a result, the Chinesehappilystarted dumping carbon black in the Indian markets.Being a complete commodity, branding, manufacturer reputation etc just does not matter.
  • The annual Indian demand for carbon black is about 6.5 lakh tons, while the Indian manufacturers produce about 7.2 lakh tons, some of which is exported.
  • The Indian carbon black market is a duopoly, with just 2 companies; Phillips Carbon and Aditya Birla Nuvo controlling more than 80% of the market.
  • Now, till FY11, the Chinese imports of carbon black in India were about 16000 tons annually, which is no big deal. But then, the dumping started. In FY12, Chinese imports increased to about 80000 tons and over the trailing 12 months, have been estimated to have crossed 1.1 lakh tons. Now thats a big deal. If one wants to understand more on this, one can readthisnotification by the DG - Safeguards. Gives very good data as well as an overview of the sector. (I have highlighted the document for faster reading)
  • Landed cost of the China-_maal_is about 18-20% lower (esti) than the locally sold carbon black. So obviously, the local manufacturers could not compete and were severely hit. Phillips Carbon was no exception and therecent resultspaint a very sorry picture.

What has happened now

  • The Indian manufacturers obviously got pissed off and made a case before the Govt to impose a safeguard duty on Chinese imports to curtail their dumping.
  • The Govt found the concerns of the Indian industry valid and asafeguard dutyof 30% was imposed on Chinese carbon black for a period of 15 months from Oct 5, 2012. Go India!
  • Of course, there would be existing stock of cheap, pre-duty Chinese carbon black, yet to be exhausted, so one cannot expect immediate miracles for the Indian manufacturers.

What are the risks if one thinks of investing

  • The company does something RPG-ish!
  • Further increase in crude prices
  • Raw material is heavily imported and rupee is at 54ish.
  • Severe slowdown in Auto sector, trickling down to severe slowdown for carbon black sector
  • A reallyawfulupcoming quarterly result is possible!

My thoughts

  • As far as possible, one should not look at an RPG company as a long term investment. So, at least for me, that door is closed.
  • However, what does Phillips Carbon earn in a ‘normalised scenario’? Well, Rs.1800-2000 cr of sales with 6-7% PAT margins seems doable for the company. So, is Rs.100 cr PAT? Easily_possible_. Btw, the stock price has drifted down from Rs.220ish to Rs.95 over the last two years, giving a market cap of Rs.330 cr at present. Interesting!
  • So whenever the company starts showing improved profitability, the market will reward it with a nice spurt in the stock price. Forget EPS growth, forget ‘re-rating’…even a ‘reversion to mean’ can give good returns in this case.
  • Now, the big question is - when will this happen?! While I will not talk about that, I can say that I_dont_think it will happen in this quarter’s (December) result, since existing cheap Chinese stock will take time to get exhausted. December result may also be equally bad, in which case the stock price will take a further hit. But this does have potential as a 2-3 quarter short term puff!

Avoid RPG group entities, you will do good.


Avoid from my side also.This one is a classic paper tiger which has failed to deliver forever.

Neeraj Marathe had posted on Philips Carbon a couple of weeks back. Here is the link

Prima Facie risk reward situation appears to be favorable, but I need to do more indepth research. This stock had been on my radar for some time. The clear catalyst here is with imposition of fresh duties under anti-dumping rules, excess inventories should get liquidated in some time and demand for Indian producers should recover.

Totally agree about the view that one should avoid RPG group, but I am fine with venturing into such situation when risk reward situation isfavorable.

Disc: No position as of now, will take a call after completing my research.

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Interesting pick. I think it could give a good upside provided:

1). demand scenario turns favorable

2). Effects of the govt import duty starts manifesting post dec or latest by march quarter.

You can acknowledge the source of the material here if the original author has no issues with the matter being put up here.

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I thought that posting the blog link might be frowned upon as advertising of the blog etc., which is why i did not post it.

I have not been quite active on the forum, hence dont know the rules and conventions properly. My apologies. Will do the needful henceforth.

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I agree with you. I am not at all keen on it as a core, long term holding, since its a commodity business and belongs to the RPG group.


Yes, i would also like to do good.

Would it not be interesting to look at this as a 2-3 qrt short term trade? As the article also says, RPG group is something which should not be looked upon as a long term investment.

The problem with turnaround/special situations is that one needs to be totally sure of the execution capabilities of the management to establish the turnaround (or demand resumption to normalcy as in this case).

Having burnt my fingers in the past with PCB, I am not at all confident of their execution capabilities to make best use of this situation.

I like Aditya Birla Nuvo better ( in terms of prospect of this business)

Read this to have some perspective

Avoid RPG group entities, you will do good.

Hi Radio,

Surprised why it has not moved post announcement of the import duty? Could be a good opportunity to enter for a believer?



I think its because the December qtr results is also not expected to be really good.

Hi Neeraj,

Good to see you here…hope to have your inputs more regularly.

My feeling abt this business is that its one of the bad commodity business and along with the RPG Group, there can be significant opportunity costs. Hence though it may work out as a good trading bet but I think some really good long term opportunities are available.




Hi Ayush,

Yes I totally agree with you. One more point that needs to be pondered upon is the size of position. Taking a big position in an RPG company cannot give any serious investor a good night’s sleep! And small positions do not make much portfolio sense, imho…

Is radioactive potato neeraj? And if so I was suggesting indirectly to give credit to the originator of the idea. funny.:slight_smile:

WoW! Good to have Prof. Marathe on board. I am an admirer of the both the contents and his writing style on his blog. Looking forward to more write ups.


Is funny.:))


Please go through this :slight_smile:


Yes, Radioactive Potato is Prof. Neeraj. Who else can come up with such innovative names :wink:

thanks ayush and rudra.

I missed the name on the investing books forum.

Great to have Prof neeraj marathe contributing at valuepickr.

Hi guys,

Very sorry for the mix-up in names…actually this is a name i use on another forum since years. Donald created my ID here with the same name :slight_smile:

Plz drop the Prof tag yaar…i feel old and wrinkled! :smiley:

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