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Pharma sector reported weak Q1FY23 performance but expected to perform better next quarter


Indian pharmaceutical sector which is ranked third globally in terms of volume and fourteenth globally in terms of value was anticipated to have a subdued performance by Nirmal Bang Institutional Equities in Q1FY23 due to greater base in Q1FY22 with high COVID related instances. According to Nirmal Bang, firms with a more pronounced long-term presence, such as JB Chemicals, Sun Pharma, and Lupin, were expected to fare significantly better.

Additionally, it was anticipated that their exports would climb in the low single digits in Q1FY23 before accelerating in Q2FY23. The reason being that their operations were being impacted by rising freight and raw material expenses. NIFTY Pharma index, which is continuously in a downtrend from the start of 2022, saw a small sideways trend post Q1FY23 indicating that pharma sector companies are yet to resume the healthy quarterly performance in the middle of inflationary trends looming globally.

Most of the Pharma companies in Q1FY23 have reported either low single digit YoY growth or decline in their YoY performance, with the margins of all of them were affected due to rising inflation. Let’s now compare and check performance of five large cap pharma companies to understand the performance of Pharma Sector as a whole in Q1 and check if the NIFTY PHARMA will continue its downtrend or investors can wait for a possible reversal.

Revenue has started improving in Q1FY23 with easing price erosion in US

Revenue growth of the Pharma companies slowed down to 5% YoY as compared to 10.7% YoY in Q4FY22. A high base due to higher demand for Covid-led products in Q1FY22 impacted the growth for the domestic business of the pharma companies.

Sun Pharma reported significant EBIDTA growth adjusted for COVID in the Q1FY23, driven by a global ramp-up of specialist products, a concentration on the home market, and a steady ROW market. The company's major expenditures and efforts in specialist business have also begun to pay off, with 39% YoY growth in FY22 and 29% YoY increase in Q1FY23. In addition, their revenue increased by 29% YoY and 3% QoQ in Q1FY23.

Cipla's India business fell 8.4% due to a high base, although adjusted for Covid products, growth was 9% YoY. Cipla also succeeded in improving their market share of therapies in double digits in Q1FY23. Further, the acquisition of 21% share in Achira Labs (Mass Endura) and additional stake in GoApptiv Private Limited is positive factor for Cipla.

For Torrent Pharma revenues grew 10% YoY to Rs 2,347 crores. Domestic formulations increased by 14% YoY to Rs 1245 crores, driven by outperformance of top brands, new launches, and market share gains across focus therapies, while Brazil increased by 20% YoY to Rs 184 crores, owing to strong growth in the generic segment, performance of top brands, and new launches. Finally, EBITDA margins fell 139 basis points YoY to 30.3%, while EBITDA increased 5% YoY to Rs 712 crore.

While sales at Aurobindo Pharma increased 9% YoY to Rs 6,236 crore, EBITDA was down 23% YoY to Rs 936 crore, with margins at 15%. They also experienced a 28% YoY increase in ARV to Rs 380 crore and an 11% YoY growth in US business to Rs 2971 crore.

Lupin's Q1FY23 profitability results were dismal. Due to restructuring in the US as well as the ongoing effects of inflation on raw materials and freight, it posted its worst-ever EBITDA margin of 6.2%. When compared to US$172 Mn in Q1FY22 and US$181 Mn in Q4FY22, US revenue fell precipitously to US$121 Mn. This was brought on by restructuring-related one-time costs of $40–50 million, inventory write-offs, and product withdrawal. Subsequently, revenue was down 3.9% YoY to Rs 3,740 crores.

In addition, US business performance improved in terms of reducing pricing pressures, which were in the mid-single digits for Q1FY23 as opposed to a double-digit price erosion in Q4FY22. The Pharma stocks also demonstrated signs of improvement. Aurobindo Pharma saw an increase in US revenues of 11% YoY, Cipla saw a 15.5% YoY increase (because of significant growth in the respiratory franchise), and Sun Pharma saw a 15% YoY increase (owing to growth in the Specialty category). Additionally, the US business for Torrent Pharma increased 12% YoY to Rs 299 crore, mostly as a result of one-time settlement income of Rs 38 crores in this quarter. However, the growth was partially offset by an 18% YoY decline in Germany to Rs 214 crore amid increase in competition and loss of tenders in previous quarters.

Therefore, it can be concluded that the negative Q1FY23 performance was caused by the higher Q1FY22 base, inflationary pressures that caused margin contraction, and prolonged price erosion in the US markets. Let’s also have a look at their share price movements in Q1FY23 to see how this was reflected in stock markets. While four of them have given negative returns,Torrent Pharma managed to give positive return but that too just of 2.3% in Q1FY23. This shows how the market conditions in the pharma sector affected the share price. While going forward the situation may improve.

Our View:

For pharmaceutical businesses, Q1FY23 was a challenging quarter due to growing cost pressures as high freight prices, rising operating expenses, and rising raw material costs caused OPM to decrease, which resulted in a double-digit decline in earnings. After accounting for Covid-led demand in Q1FY22, pharmaceutical companies' India business grew well, besides subsiding pricing erosion in their US operations.

Furthermore, factors such as growing preference for speciality / complex generics, robust growth in the IPM (Indian Pharmaceutical Market), and new prospects in the API area would be major long-term growth drivers, however headwinds in the near term could reduce performance. With this, investors can select a few favoured options, such as Cipla and Sun Pharma, as potential investment options.

About the Author

Ketan Sonalkar (SEBI Rgn No INA000011255)

Ketan Sonalkar is a certified SEBI registered investment advisor and head of research at Univest. He is one of the finest financial trainers, with a track record of having trained more than 2000 people in offline and online models. He serves as a consultant advisor to leading fintech and financial data firms. He has over 15 years of working experience in the finance field. He runs Advisory Services for Direct Equities and Personal Finance Transformation.


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