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November 7, 2017

Volume 7 Issue 4

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Profits Up for Koreans, Gulf

Three base oil and finished lubricant suppliers in South Korea – SK Lubricants, S-Oil and Hyundai Shell Base Oil – all saw their third quarter profits rise on the back of higher sales. Gulf Oil made gains as well, while fellow Indian lube maker Apar Industries’ earnings slipped.

SK Innovation announced that the operating profit of its lubricants segment jumped 23 percent to 144 billion won (U.S. $129.6 million). Sales revenue rose 25 percent to 750 billion won.

“In the third quarter, the base oil spread dropped around $3 [per barrel] from the second quarter due to increased raw material prices, despite stable demand,” SK Innovation Chief Financial Officer Cha JinSeok said in earnings conference call. As for the fourth quarter, “We’re entering into a low season. But we still believe the current favorable market condition will continue since the capacity addition in North America scheduled at the end of this year is delayed to next year,” Cha said.

Seoul-based S-Oil said its operating income from its base oil and lubricant business swelled 29.6 percent to 126.3 billion won. Sales revenue climbed 25.8 percent to 405 billion won.

“In the third quarter, the lube base oil business recorded a remarkable operating profit due to continuing demand growth for high-quality products,” S-Oil Treasurer Shin Gwanbae said. “A strong base oil spread is likely to soften, affected by low seasonal demand. However, the downward adjustment will be limited.”

Hyundai Shell Base Oil, a joint venture of Hyundai Oilbank and Shell, saw its third quarter operating profit grow 23 percent to 32.8 billion won. The joint venture reported that its sales revenue spiked 33.2 percent to 173.7 billion won.

“The base oil spread decreased from the preceding quarter due to a rise of [vacuum] gas oil prices and increased supply after regular maintenance [turnarounds],” Hyundai Oilbank said in its filing. “In the fourth quarter, base oil prices are expected to remain weak because of supply increase and low seasonal demand for high viscosity index base oil.”

In April 2017, Hyundai Robotics became the holdings company of Hyundai Heavy Industries, which has five subsidiaries including Hyundai Oilbank.

Gulf Oil Lubricants India Ltd.’s second quarter standalone net income jumped 38 percent yearly to Rs 40.4 crore (Rs 404 million, or U.S. $6 million), driven by higher sales.

Net sales for the company, which sells a wide range of automotive and industrial lubricants and greases, increased nearly 23 percent to nearly Rs 323 crore in the quarter ended Sept. 30, according to a regulatory filing. Total expenses were remained nearly static at Rs 264.8 crore.

The lubricant maker said it recorded overall volume growth of around 13 percent during the quarter, despite Goods and Services Tax system-related uncertainties in the retail channel towards the start of the quarter. The company’s overall retail channel, including original equipment manufacturer dealerships, delivered double-digit volume growth, thanks to overall improved demand.

"The double-digit volume growth and increase in revenues and margins was buoyed by the segments of personal mobility, OEM-related businesses and industrial lubricants,” said Gulf Oil.

The company, part of Hinduja Group, said investments in the brand continued to gain strength, driven by various campaigns to attract consumers. Its diesel engine oil segment was driven by activities such as consumer oil changes in the agriculture segment and in franchise workshop services across India, it noted.

In the April to September 2017 period, the company’s net profit rose 25 percent to Rs 74.7 crore, while net sales increased 12.5 percent to approximately Rs 603 crore.

Gulf Oil, which is investing about Rs 180 crore to build its new 50,000 metric tons per year blending plant in Chennai, said the major construction work is near completion. The company is on schedule to start commercial production in the third quarter of this financial year, it added.

India’s Apar Industries Ltd. reported that consolidated operating profit in its transformer and specialty oils segment fell 11.4 percent annually to Rs 35.4 crore (Rs 354 million or US $5.2 million) in its second quarter, which ended Sept. 30.

Revenue for the segment, which includes automotive lubricants among over 400 types of specialty oils, increased about 21 percent to Rs 506 crore, the Mumbai-based diversified company said in a regulatory filing. The transformer and specialty oils segment accounted for 40 percent of the company’s revenue in the quarter.

Revenue from Apar’s specialty oils segment surged 20 percent to Rs 505 crore, thanks to strong growth in transformer oils, white oils, industrial lubricants and automotive oils, the Indian transformer oils and lubes manufacturer said in an earnings presentation. Specialty oils volume increased 12 percent to 95,484 kiloliters.

The company stated it witnessed increased price competition during the quarter due to base oil supply overhang. 

The company noted that July implementation of India’s GST system impacted volumes and margins during the month, but both picked up in August and September. Automotive segment’s sales volume increased 30 percent to record 8,196 kl during the quarter despite lower sales in July.

Apar said that its Hamriyah plant in Sharjah had a slow quarter on account of low business volume due to seasonality from the Ramadan period, but the company is hopeful for a better third quarter.

For the April to September 2017 period, the transformer and specialty oils segment’s profit declined 28 percent on year to Rs 69.4 crore before finance costs and taxes. Revenue, however, jumped nearly 20 percent to Rs 1,005 crore. The company said that specialty oils volume increased 12 percent to reach 191,928 kl in the first six months of the current fiscal year.

Apar said it expects stronger demand for transformer oils – especially in the 400 KV to 765 KV segment – in the second half of this year, driven by government initiatives. The company said the government’s Rs 16,000 crore Saubhagya scheme for household electrification will improve energy demand and benefit the capital goods industry – especially the distribution segment.

India’s largest manufacturer of transformer oils said that increased tenders for transformers in the high voltage segment also bode well for demand.