|RAPAPORT... India’s polished-diamond exports will increase 20% to more than $20 billion this fiscal year as sentiment improves in key retail markets, a credit agency has forecast.
China’s apparent defeat of Covid-19 and the US’s vaccine rollout have lifted consumer confidence in both countries, Mumbai-based Crisil Ratings said last week. Those two markets account for around 75% of India’s polished orders.
India’s revenues from polished shipments fell 12% to $16.4 million in the fiscal year that ended March 31 — a lesser decline than had been expected when the coronavirus crisis hit in the spring of 2020, Crisil noted. The downturn in shipments receded in the second half of the year, it said, citing an analysis of 70 diamantaires to which it gives credit ratings.
Restrictions on overseas travel and lower spending on hospitality during the pandemic have shifted spending toward gifts such as diamond jewelry, according to the company, a division of US-based ratings agency S&P Global.
“To be sure, there will be some moderation in the second quarter of this fiscal [year], which is a lean period typically,” said Crisil director Rahul Guha, referring to the months from July to September. “Exports have been rising, and averaging around $2 billion per month since October 2020. But the festival season that begins in the export destinations from the third [fiscal] quarter will boost revenue to pre-pandemic levels.”
India’s latest Covid-19 wave has resulted in 20% to 30% of workers at small manufacturing units leaving the country’s polishing hubs such as Surat, Crisil estimated. Larger businesses have managed to restrict this to around 10% by following social-distancing guidelines and providing staff members with safe transportation. Cutting operations are currently at 80% of capacity, it added.
Since the second half of the last fiscal year, diamond companies have also reduced the amount of time it takes to realize revenues from receivables — the amounts clients owe for goods they have bought — Crisil pointed out. This has enabled Crisil-rated diamond companies to trim their debts by 15%, it added.
“The prices of both rough and polished diamonds are expected to be firm and move in tandem this fiscal [year], which would steady operating profitability at 5% to 6%,” commented Jumana Badshah, associate director at Crisil.
Image: Diamond cutting. (Shutterstock)
Source: Rapaport 8-6-2021