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Tata Steel faces a wave of downgrades amid rising influx of cheaper steel from China

Tata Steel, a prominent player in the steel industry, has seen a sharp decline in its fourth-quarter profits, reporting a 64% drop to Rs 611.48 crore for the quarter ending March FY24.

Tata Steel India clocks record production
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Tata Steel faces a wave of downgrades amid rising influx of cheaper steel from China

Tata Steel, a prominent player in the steel industry, has seen a sharp decline in its fourth-quarter profits, reporting a 64% drop to Rs 611.48 crore for the quarter ending March FY24. This significant downturn, compared to a profit of Rs 1,704.86 crore in the same quarter last year, has resulted in a series of analyst downgrades. The company’s consolidated revenue also fell by 6.7% to Rs 58,687.3 crore from Rs 62,961.5 crore in the previous year.

Rising Challenges

The company has been severely impacted by an increase in steel imports from China and falling steel spreads. The influx of cheaper steel from China has placed downward pressure on global steel prices, further eroding Tata Steel's profitability. Analysts highlight that the rising Chinese imports have contributed to a $25/tonne reduction in steel export prices over the past quarter, exacerbating the pressure on Tata Steel's margins.

Analyst Downgrades

Over the past year, the sentiment around Tata Steel has shifted dramatically. Last year, 26 brokerages had a 'buy' rating on the stock. Now, only 14 maintain this optimistic stance, while 'hold' and 'sell' ratings have increased to nine and eight respectively. Elara Securities points out that the ongoing monsoon season in India is likely to curtail construction activities, limiting steel demand and preventing significant price increases in the near term. InCred Equities also predicts sustained downward pressure on the steel market, leading to a 'sell' rating for Tata Steel.

Market Response

Tata Steel’s stock has seen a steady decline, with the latest price at Rs 174.71, down 0.90% from the previous day. The market's response reflects concerns over the company's ability to navigate these challenging conditions, with a noticeable shift in investor sentiment.

Strategic Moves

In response to these challenges, Tata Steel is taking strategic measures, including a significant $2.1 billion investment in its Singapore subsidiary. This move aims to manage debt and support restructuring costs, particularly in its loss-making UK operations. The company plans to transition to lower-carbon electric arc furnaces in the UK, a move supported by a £500 million ($632 million) government grant. Despite these efforts, the planned closure of heavy assets in the UK has sparked controversy and worker strikes, indicating a tough road ahead for the company.

Divergent Views

Not all analysts are bearish. Jefferies has maintained a 'buy' rating and even raised its target price to Rs 200, citing a notable rise in manufacturing activities in China and the United States, which could drive up metal demand. This optimism is based on the potential increase in steel demand due to heightened manufacturing activity in these major economies.

Tata Steel is currently navigating a complex landscape marked by global economic uncertainties, rising imports, and operational challenges. While the company's strategic initiatives aim to mitigate some of these issues, the immediate outlook remains cautious as analysts and investors closely monitor its performance and strategic execution in the coming quarters.

Disclaimer: BizzBuzz News advises users to check with certified experts before making any investment decisions.

Dwaipayan Bhattacharjee
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