Nutrien foresees jump in sales in Brazil

Acquisition, organic growth boost company, whose sales totaled R$3bn in 2021 and may now reach R$8bn

07/29/2022


André Dias — Foto: Silvia Zamboni/Valor

André Dias — Foto: Silvia Zamboni/Valor

Nutrien’s acquisition of the fertilizer distribution network Casa do Adubo will boost the Canadian company’s growth in Brazil. The deal was announced last week and still depends on the antitrust regulator CADE’s greenlight.

The company’s turnover in the country is expected to reach R$8 billion in 2022, compared with R$3 billion last year, says André Dias, Nutrien’s CEO in Latin America. The results will be driven by Casa do Adubo’s sales – expected to reach R$2.5 billion – and organic growth.

Besides the sales that will come from Casa do Adubo’s 39 points of sale in 11 states (Acre, Bahia, Espírito Santo, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Minas Gerais, Pará, Rio de Janeiro, Rondônia, São Paulo, and Tocantins), the projected value includes the revenue from Marca Agro Mercantil, a Minas Gerais-based chain with seven stores whose acquisition, unveiled at the end of June, also depends on CADE’s approval.

“With the acquisitions, we will have 120 stores and experience centers in Brazil, with a much greater geographic diversification. Our network is in São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Goiás, Tocantins and Mato Grosso do Sul now. With Casa do Adubo, we will reach 13 states,” says Mr. Dias. The value of recent purchases made by Nutrien was not disclosed, but sources in the segment estimate that they have exceeded $2 billion.

Besides the greater amplitude, Casa do Adubo, in particular, brings to the Canadian multinational 100,000 new smaller clients, with properties between 50 and 200 hectares. Currently, the farms of the company’s 7,000 customers are generally between 200 and 2,500 hectares.

“Furthermore, we will have more access to the market of redistribution of agricultural inputs, since Casa do Adubo maintains this channel with smaller networks,” says Mr. Dias. According to him, after seven acquisitions in two years, it is time for Nutrien to focus on the integration of networks to generate greater efficiency in operations. “But we are always looking at the market,” he said amid the Farmer’s Day events held by the company this week, which is celebrated on July 28.

In addition to its growing chain of input distributors, Nutrien – the largest supplier of potassium-based fertilizers in the world, with mines in Canada – also has four fertilizer blending plants in Brazil and plans to open three more.

*By Fernando Lopes — São Paulo

Source: Valor International

https://valorinternational.globo.com/

Unifi to expand capacity in yarn plant by 50%

U.S.-based company has included Brazil in list of operations to receive slice of $100m this year

07/29/2022


Eddie Ingle — Foto: Carol Carquejeiro/Valor

Eddie Ingle — Foto: Carol Carquejeiro/Valor

Unifi, a U.S.-based polyester textured yarn maker, has included Brazil in the list of operations to receive a slice of $100 million this year. With a plant in Alfenas, Minas Gerais, the company expects to expand by up to 50% the capacity of the Brazilian operation and increase local production of yarns made entirely from used plastic bottles. Part of the funds will be set aside for the United States and El Salvador.

“We have not disclosed exactly how much of the investment is coming to Brazil, but the money we are spending is quite expressive to expand business here by 40% to 50%,” CEO Eddie Ingle told Valor. Here, the manufacturer sells especially yarns that supply the clothing, automotive and furniture markets.

Such optimism about Brazil, he says, lies in the country’s fast economic recovery. According to the executive, the first impact of the pandemic was a sharp drop in revenue. “Our business in that period, between April and June, fell 50% around the world. In Brazil, it fell 70%. It was very dramatic. But Brazil seems to recover much faster than the rest of the world,” the executive said.

In the nine months through March, Unifi’s Brazilian operation reported $91 million in sales, up 25.3% year-over-year. The company’s fiscal year 2022 ended in June, but the data have not been released yet. Globally, sales revenue grew 24% to $598 million.

This recovery is mainly due to the change in the global supply chain scenario, says Mauro Barreira Fernandes Jr., who is taking over as Unifi’s chief executive for Brazil. He will replace Lucas Rocha, who is retiring. “The industry was very dependent on imported yarns,” Mr. Fernandes Jr. says.

Social distancing measures slowed sales of clothing, but boosted items for home, such as mattresses, sofas, and chairs. This helped to keep up demand. Now, the recovery of clothing and footwear sales is driving orders.

“As we produce here and have a large stock, we are able to supply the industry, which has replaced imports,” the Brazilian executive said, adding that the company’s market share increased to 17% from 11%. In Brazil, there are few companies that compete directly with Unifi, such as the Spanish company Antex. The main competition comes from imported products, according to the company.

Another issue, he points out, is that foreign brands, especially in the apparel industry, are producing locally, with outsourced manufacturers. Nike, Adidas, Reebok, and Puma are among these companies. The growing production of the Brazilian apparel industry is driving the business of yarn manufacturers in the country, he says.

According to data from the Brazilian association of artificial and synthetic fiber producers (Abrafas), the country ended 2021 with an installed capacity to produce 239,300 tonnes of polyester, including 108,900 tonnes of textile filament. The production totaled 83,400 tonnes, with more than 82,000 tonnes sold in the domestic market. However, 279,000 tonnes are still imported to meet a consumption of nearly 360,000 tonnes of polyester textile filament. In 2019, the year before the pandemic, 259,000 tonnes were imported, while 75,000 tonnes were produced and 70,000 tonnes were sold by domestic manufacturers in the domestic market. Consumption was also lower: 332,600 tonnes.

The sales growth, however, was also followed by higher costs. In Brazil, despite the higher revenue, the profit was virtually stable in relation to the previous year, totaling $24.5 million. The sales costs grew 37%.

According to Mr. Ingle, in the case of Brazil, part of the recovery already seen in Unifi’s business is due to investments in new equipment. Six new machines are already in operation.

The updating of the machinery will allow the company to have more energy efficiency and produce a greater variety of yarns. “It is also faster equipment. We can process the yarn at a much higher speed than with the existing equipment.” The money will also be used to expand storage capacity and for physical expansion.

One of the company’s main objectives is to increase local production of Repreve, a yarn developed by Unifi and made entirely from post- and pre-consumer PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic. The product was launched in 2007 and already accounts for 37% of Unifi’s global sales, although it is still far from a double-digit level share in Brazilian revenues. Since its launch, 33 billion bottles have been transformed into synthetic fibers, Unifi says. These yarns are used in clothing, furniture, car seats, and shoes. The goal is to transform 50 billion bottles by 2025.

*By Raquel Brandão — São Paulo

Source: Valor International

https://valorinternational.globo.com/

Nissan launches car subscription in Brazil

Entire line of the Japanese brand will be available in 12, 18, 24 or 36-month plans

07/29/2022


Nissan Move includes a new and connected car including vehicular tax IPVA, insurance, maintenance and 24-hour assistance — Foto: Divulgação

Nissan Move includes a new and connected car including vehicular tax IPVA, insurance, maintenance and 24-hour assistance — Foto: Divulgação

Nissan launched Thursday a subscription car service in Brazil. The entire line of the Japanese brand will be available in 12, 18, 24, or 36-month plans, with kilometers traveled ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 kilometers per month.

Called Nissan Move, the service includes a new and connected car including vehicular tax IPVA, insurance, maintenance and 24-hour assistance. During the launching stage, the service, which can be purchased at a dealership or online, will be available São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Joinville, Goiânia, Vitória, Macaé, and Salvador.

According to the company, to rent a Nissan Versa Sense CVT for 24 months with up to 1,000 kilometers driven per month, for example, the installments will be R$2,409 per month. On the other hand, a Kicks Advance, also with CVT transmission, will cost R$2,889 per month for 36 months of contract and also 1,000 kilometers driven per month.

Today, subscription services represent 8% of the rental market in Brazil. According to Humberto Gomez, Nissan’s marketing director for Brazil, it is hard to predict how much this market can expand. He estimates that the share within the rental market can reach 15% in nearly three years. Outsourced services in rental company fleets absorb 52% of this market. Rental by ride-hailing drivers has a 20% share.

“With production returning to normal due to the resumption of semiconductor deliveries, it will be easier to see how this market evolves,” Mr. Gomez said during the presentation of the new service.

According to the CEO of Nissan in Brazil, Airton Cousseau, the automaker’s subscription car service had been ready for a long time. But the launch was delayed because “there would be no way to meet the demand” due to the lack of components throughout the industry.

Automakers and rental companies have been betting on subscription car services in an attempt to draw a new public. The proposal meets especially people who do not want to worry about the expenses that owning a vehicle imposes.

But the industry estimates that there is demand from other groups of customers, such as those who want to test a model before buying it. The idea also tends to attract those who want to have a new car every year or two without having to invest in the purchase, or even those who want to drive around for a while in a more luxurious car than they could afford, or test how an electric car works.

*By Marli Olmos — São Paulo

Source: Valor International

https://valorinternational.globo.com/

Food delivery boosts use of plastic packaging in Brazil

Plastic consumption in the sector jumps 46% from 2019 to 2021, study shows

07/27/2022


The Covid-19 pandemic has caused the consumption of take-out food to skyrocket – and with it, that of plastics for packaging, in addition to straws, cups, plates, and cutlery. Plastic consumption in the delivery sector jumped 46% from 2019 to 2021. It means a rise to 25,000 tonnes from 17,000 tonnes of single-use plastic products: 68 tonnes per day and 2.8 tonnes per hour.

In 2018, Brazilian households spent R$508 billion on food. Take-out food accounted for R$12.3 billion, or 2.4% of the market. The data is part of a study by Oceana, the largest NGO focused exclusively on protecting the oceans.

The study seeks to map how the change in consumption habits caused by the pandemic affected plastic pollution in Brazil. It was prepared by consultancy ExAnte economists with data from the statistics agency IBGE.

The study also recalls that research done in 2017 and published in the scientific journal Science Advances revealed that in less than two years, almost 100% of the short-lived plastic packaging produced worldwide has already been consumed and discarded. They do not degrade, they last hundreds of years.

Plastic particles have been found in the placenta of pregnant women. In March, researchers at Vrije University in Amsterdam found, for the first time, the presence of microplastics in the bloodstream.

Plastic is responsible for at least 70% of the waste found on the Brazilian coast. It threatens turtles, whales, dolphins, and more than 800 species. It has been found in the stomachs of polar bears and even elephants.

The #DeLivreDePlastico campaign was launched during the pandemic, in December 2020, by Oceana and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The idea was to require delivery app companies to commit to reducing plastics for packaging products, replacing them with reusable or proven biodegradable options.

Lara Iwanicki — Foto: Wenderson Araujo/Valor

Lara Iwanicki — Foto: Wenderson Araujo/Valor

“These companies are central in the chain that links what is produced by the plastic industry to the food sector and, as a result, with the problem of pollution,” says environmental engineer Lara Iwanicki, Oceana’s campaign manager.

The intention is for food delivery apps to commit, among other actions, to encourage partner restaurants in the country to deliver food free from single-use plastic. “In a second phase, we want them to present plastic reduction targets. With so much profit, and benefiting from this scenario, it is unacceptable that these companies do so little in return,” she says.

A year ago, iFood offered customers using the app the option to waive the delivery of cutlery, cups, straws, and other plastic items by restaurants. More than 40% of the restaurants in the company’s base offer this option today, out of a total of 200,000 restaurants in the country. The goal is to have 100,000 restaurants integrated into the effort, says environmental engineer André Borges, head of sustainability at the company, the leader in the Brazilian market.

The result was that 94% of consumers replied that they prefer not to receive cutlery and straws. The impact of the action was more than 200 million orders dispensing single-use plastics since July 2021. The average number of orders is about 60 million per month.

That is, 25% of the customers place their orders and do not want the plastics. “We know that there is a pandemic effect and that the percentage will decrease, but it is a good start,” says Mr. Borges. In the company’s accounts, the reduction would be 510 tonnes less of plastics.

IFood’s plan also has two pillars, in addition to reducing consumption. The second is the replacement of plastic packaging for other materials, such as paper, corn straw, and even manioc-based material. “The problem is that they can be up to ten times more expensive than the others,” says Mr. Borges. The last pillar is recycling. “We hope that other players will join this effort,” he says.

Oceana was founded in 2001 and has been in Brazil since 2014. It operates in 11 countries and the European Union, seeking to protect biodiversity.

*By Daniela Chiaretti — São Paulo

Source: Valoar International

https://valorinternational.globo.com/

Inflation slows down helped by fuel tax relief

After tax relief, mid-month inflation index IPCA-15 lost steam in July

27/07/2022


Recent tax cuts on key items helped to bring, as expected, relief to the July inflation preview, which also saw a cooling in industrial goods prices. Inflation of services and more inertial items, however, remains pressured and worries economists.

The increase in Brazil’s mid-month inflation index IPCA-15, known as a reliable predictor for official inflation, slowed down to 0.13% in July from 0.69% in June, below the median of expectations compiled by Valor Data, of 0.16%. It was the lowest monthly variation since June 2020, when the indicator oscillated only 0.02%. In 12 months, the IPCA-15 went to 11.39% in July from 12.04% in June – compared with the top of the target range of 5%. The diffusion – proportion of items with price increases in the period – also fell, to 67.8% from 68.9%, according to Valor Data.

Most of the July IPCA-15 slowdown was explained by the 1.5% drop in regulated prices, after a 0.86% rise in June, MCM Consultores says. This reflects tax cuts on fuels, which went down 4.88%, and electricity, whose prices fell 4.61% – even more than economists expected. Among the fuels, gasoline dropped 5.01%, and ethanol, 8.16%. Diesel oil, on the other hand, rose 7.32%.

Together, fuel and electricity had a negative impact of 0.58 percentage points on the IPCA-15 in July, which means that, without this, the index would have been 0.71%. The tax cut on telecommunications has not yet been captured by the indicator and is expected to show in next readings, according to analysts. According to market projections, IPCA may fall 0.50% to 0.75% in July.

Non-regulated prices inflation, in turn, accelerated to 0.72% in July from 0.63% in June. The food and beverage group rose to 1.16% from 0.25%, with advances for both food at home (to 1.12% from 0.08%). The price of long-life milk rose 22.27% in July and was the main influence on the IPCA-15 for the month.

Although food inflation remained strong in the July forecast, economists note that the acceleration was slightly less sharp than projected and the group may have a less unfavorable outlook ahead with the cooling in commodity prices, especially grains.

Some relief in commodities — notably metals — may also help explain the deceleration in industrial goods prices, to 0.28% in July from 0.65% in June, with some reduction in the rate over 12 months (to 13.5% from 14%). “It’s still relatively timid, but it’s a sign we’ve been waiting for,” says Daniel Karp, an economist at Santander. The category also benefited from tax cuts on ethanol, but there were surprises in other more relevant industrial goods items, such as automobiles, he points out. New car inflation, for example, decelerated to 0.14% in July from 1.46% in June.

Roberto Secemski — Foto: Ana Paula Paiva/Valor

Roberto Secemski — Foto: Ana Paula Paiva/Valor

Industrial goods are also included in the core measures, those that try to minimize the effect of more volatile items. In the average of the five main cores, inflation went to 0.72% in July from 0.89% in June. In 12 months, however, it still accelerates to 10.56% from 10.43%, the highest level since 2003, says Roberto Secemski, chief economist for Brazil at Barclays. He expects a rapid deceleration of the IPCA in the second half of 2022, but not of the cores, which could complicate the Central Bank’s outlook for the interest rate, he says. “Core inflation dynamics are less susceptible to these tax changes,” he says.

Costs for more inertial and labor-intensive services also remain elevated. Inflation in the sector remained around 0.85% in July, while underlying services (more linked to the business cycle) went to 0.91% in July from 0.86%.

“These items will only react with the lag of monetary policy. It shouldn’t mean a relief in the short term, it will start to show towards the end of the year,” says Andrea Damico, the chief economist at Armor Capital. Despite the “very ugly” services inflation, the relative relief in industrial goods may make the Central Bank more comfortable to pause the cycle after the expected hike in the key interest rate Selic in August, Ms. Damico says.

*By Anaïs Fernandes, Lucianne Carneiro — São Paulo

Source: Valor International

https://valorinternational.globo.com/

Investor asks for more to finance retailers’ debt

High interest rates, resistant inflation hurt companies whose sales depend on credit

27/07/2022


Much higher interest rates, resistant inflation and reduced consumption power make up the scenario that has punished retail companies in the stock market for some months. But, more recently, the warning sound has also started to blare in the local corporate debt market, where a good number of these companies have been financing themselves, either to continue their expansion plans, or to reinforce their cash flow, thinking of going through the turbulence that may still come given the macroeconomic risks that lie ahead.

Analysts heard by Valor are unanimous in saying that, unlike what one might think when looking at large retailers traded on the stock market – Magazine Luiza, Americanas C&A, Centauro, Guararapes, Renner and Via –, which have seen losses of up to 88% in 12 months, the situation in the credit market is not dramatic. Most companies have a leverage situation under control and can access the market.

The point is that investors are becoming more demanding, not willing to pay any price, and not even willing to finance companies for any length of time. And at a time when the supply of securities is abundant, you can choose who you want to give money to. And this is already reflected both in the trading of shares in the secondary market and in new issuances.

“What we see is a dispersion of performance among companies, typical of times when uncertainty about the sector as a whole grows,” says Alexandre Muller, a partner at the asset management company JGP.

Two recent operations by large retailers illustrate this environment well. Americanas raised R$2 billion in June issuing 11-year bonds. The rate paid was 2.75% above the CDI (the interbank short-term rate), in an operation considered very successful, even with such a long term. Similarly, Centauro raised R$500 million by issuing 5-year bonds, paying 2.1% above the CDI, in a placement that was fully absorbed by the market.

In July, Via concluded the issuance of R$400 million in five-year and seven-year Certificate of Real Estate Receivables (CRI). But given the low demand for the security, of only R$134 million, the banks that coordinated the offering had to keep a portion of R$266 million.

In this case, the assessment of the managers is that the term was too long given the risk of the company, which deals with macroeconomic issues but also operational and governance issues. It is enough to remember that during the book-building process, a disagreement between the partners about the company’s compensation plan became public.

Similarly, C&A tapped the market to raise R$600 million through bond issuance in April. At the time, Fitch had changed the company’s rating outlook to negative. The banks also had to exercise the firm commitment and were left with 69% and 28.65% of the two lots, maturing in 2025 and 2028, respectively.

When one looks at the secondary market, there are also some movements drawing attention. Magalu’s bond, which was issued last year at a rate of 1.25% above the CDI, for example, is now traded at 1.75%. In contrast, Guararapes’s bond maturing in 2024, which was issued with a spread of 2.95% above the CDI, had a reference rate of 2.0295%.

“There is a change in conditions for these companies, and the credit world also perceives this,” says Mr. Muller. He notes that, although the negative effect is not as intense as the one seen in 2020, when the pandemic strongly impacted some sectors, such as restaurants or tourism, investors now seem even more cautious.

“In 2020, it was easier to have a projection for the companies’ recovery because we knew things would normalize. Now, the call is more complex, because nobody knows when the interest rate will stop rising and not even for how long it will remain high,” he explains. In this context, says Mr. Muller, the fiscal scenario has an even greater weight on the market, once the definition of the fiscal framework for the next government will have a great influence on the interest rate projections.

Vivian Lee — Foto: Carol Carquejeiro/Valor

Vivian Lee — Foto: Carol Carquejeiro/Valor

Vivian Lee, a partner at Ibiúna Investimentos, says that the macroeconomic scenario of high interest rates and inflation affects income and cools consumption. And this has a direct impact on the companies’ revenues and especially punishes those who have a financial arm. Not to mention the immediate effect of the rise in the Selic policy interest rate on the debt, which, for the most part, is pegged to the CDI. “We haven’t seen any impact of the financial cost on the earning reports when looking at the 12-month horizon yet, but in the second half of the year this will start to appear,” she says.

What analysts observe, however, is that the impact of interest rates will have a different magnitude in each retail segment. The most sensitive is the white goods segment – represented by Via and Magalu – which has already benefited a lot during the pandemic, a period in which consumers directed their funds to this type of product.

On the other hand, fashion retail ends up gaining space at this moment. But for those who have a financial arm, the rise in interest rates has a double negative effect: on consumption and on portfolio default. This is the case with C&A, Renner, and Guararapes (owner of Riachuelo).

The need for working capital, the profile of the consumer public, and the level of leverage are also variables that are being closely observed by investors.

“Those who depend on the upper classes end up benefiting. Those who work more with the lower classes will lose more because inflation weighs more for these consumers,” says Luiz Sedrani, BV Asset’s chief investment officer. “The government’s [consumption stimulus] package tends to stimulate the economy, but we have to keep an eye on default rates.”

The market has observed since March a repricing of the shares, a movement that has not yet reached all the companies, says Ms. Lee, with Ibiúna. “How much this scenario will be reflected in the fees paid by the companies is hard to say, but it is clear that there will be a price correction, and this time it will be due to credit risk,” she says. This environment is likely to overlap the flow of investments, which remains strong for the corporate debt market. This has contributed to balancing the rates paid by companies. “Even if you have an appetite for corporate debt, investors will separate the wheat from the chaff, and at some point, prices will adjust.”

Leonardo Ono, Legacy’s corporate debt manager, says that many retailers are impacted because of factoring of receivables, an operation whose cost increased with the higher Selic. But, for him, this is not an exclusive situation for retail, but for companies that depend on the local economy. A good part of these companies are prepared to go through turbulent periods. “I don’t see an explosive situation,” he says.

In a note, Magalu said it ended the first quarter with an adjusted net cash flow of R$1.6 billion and a total cash flow of R$8.5 billion, considering cash and financial investments of R$2 billion and available credit card receivables of R$6.5 billion. Guararapes, Americanas, Renner and C&A declined to comment. Centauro and Via declined to comment, citing a quiet period before the release of their earnings reports.

*By Lucinda Pinto — São Paulo

Souarce: Valor International

https://valorinternational.globo.com/

Stock analysts revise price targets amid high inflation, interest rates

They are having to work twice as hard to keep models up to date

27/07/2022


These are tough times for everyone, especially for those who make a living out of foreseeing the future. Investment analysts, who specialize in predicting how much a stock will cost and recommending or not its purchase, are having to work twice as hard to keep their models up to date in a game that is key for them to move before the market does.

In recent months, dramatic changes in the global economic environment, with all-time high levels of inflation and interest rates, have forced analysts to revise their projections for stocks. Last week, the European Central Bank adjusted rates for the first time since 2011, for instance. Here in Brazil, a survey carried out by Valor shows that in some industries more sensitive to price increases, there has been an 80% reduction in the target prices of companies covered by banks and asset management companies over the last three months.

As reports to clients show, analysts are rushing to update “macroeconomic assumptions” –inflation, interest rates, and higher cost of capital – which invariably changes the central mechanism in calculating a company’s value: the discount rate.

To determine the “fair price” of a company, typically for a 12-month term, analysts project its cash flow for the next few years and then bring it to present value using a discount rate, which tries to balance the expected return with the risks involved.

“The discount rate is the more artistic side of company analysis and asset management,” writes asset manager Alexandre Póvoa in the book “Valuation — Como precificar ações” (“Valuation – How to price stocks”). It is an art that involves “variables that interact with each other,” for which there is no “scientifically correct answer.”

The performance of companies – one of the most important variables – seems to resist well the macroeconomic instability, which is a great unknown at the moment. One example is the constant adjustments economists are making in their GDP growth projections: they went to 2% in the most recent round of revisions from zero at the beginning of the year. The very polarized election in October is not much of a help as analysts struggle to find fair prices compared with current prices.

Recent signs of cooling inflation in Brazil, which came in the mid-month inflation index IPCA-15 data released Tuesday, may force a fine adjustment upwards – the index is known as a reliable predictor for official inflation. If the global outlook worsens even more, another round of target price cuts may come, but this time because of another variable, which is profit growth potential.

This is because regardless of companies having “their homework done,” as analysts like to say, it is very difficult for them to have a surprising growth when everything is going badly abroad.

The survey conducted by Valor with reports from 16 banks and asset management companies that cover several industries shows that the three basic categories of recommendations – buy, sell and hold – have changed little since the beginning of the year, with a strong preponderance of buys. According to the analysis, 72% of 634 recommendations were buy, 25% hold, and 3% sell. In March, the ratio was 71%, 25% and 4%, respectively.

Yet, prices changed dramatically. Sectors linked to the so-called cyclical consumption are among the hardest hit by the general course correction. In retail, which includes large chains such as Americanas, Magazine Luiza and Via, the price target reduction reached 80% of the covered stocks. In segments with better performance, such as oil, upward adjustments predominate, albeit in a more modest proportion.

“Some industries are more resilient, more protected against inflation,” says Antonio Junqueira, head of Latin America research at Citi. “In industries like electricity, for example, it happened less [price target changes] because many companies are natural monopolists, which operate under regulations that define how much money they make. Lights are on in your house regardless of whether GDP grows 2% or falls 2%,” he says.

Gabriela Joubert — Foto: Divulgação

Gabriela Joubert — Foto: Divulgação

The reduction of a price target is not decided overnight. This work usually takes up to three weeks, says Gabriela Joubert, head of research at Inter, a Brazilian digital bank now traded on the Nasdaq. “An analysis of a large exporting company, for example, includes many variables. You have to get data, talk to the company, check information with clients, the network of contacts, distributors, and people in China, and only then change spreadsheets, update numbers, and write a report.”

Inter typically revises models once every six months, but the interval has been reduced to three months. “The macro team is revisiting its estimates more frequently, and as this happens, we need to change our models as well,” Ms. Joubert says.

In calmer times, analysts can push the macro scenario to the back burner and focus on companies and sectors, says Fernando Ferreira, the chief strategist of XP. Amid a turmoil, the work includes following closely and try to measure the impact of any news related to the zero covid policy in China or the signals from European central banks. “The staff ends up working a lot more,” Mr. Ferreira says.

Customer service work has also increased. “We started to hold more live-streaming talks and meetings with the commercial team to try and calm things down a bit,” says Ms. Joubert, with Inter.

“Many investors don’t understand why there are so many changes, so we explain the change in fundamentals,” says Mr. Ferreira, with XP. “Analysts don’t have a crystal ball. They update their assessments according to what is happening.”

The big challenge for the sell side – bank analysts who make recommendations to clients, while the buy side are the managers who manage portfolios – is to be able to change target prices before the stock market in general. “Sometimes this is very difficult, because the market usually moves first,” says Mr. Póvoa, who has worked in both sides and currently is head of analysis at Meta Asset. Besides this, changes must be approved by other departments, such as compliance, which makes the work a little slower than on the buy side.

Regardless of the side, what matters in times of high volatility such as this one is that analysts manage to keep a cool head. “It is very important not to get too excited during the good times of the cycle and not too depressed during the bad times,” says Mr. Junqueira.

*By Nelson Niero, Rita Azevedo — São Paulo

Source: Valor International

https://valorinternational.globo.com/

Principal Financial Group picks CEO, plans expansion in Brazil

U.S. group has appointed first CEO in the country since debut in 1999

07/26/2022


Robert Van Dijk — Foto: Silvia Costanti/Valor

Robert Van Dijk — Foto: Silvia Costanti/Valor

Principal Financial Group, a U.S.-based conglomerate with $714 billion under management, has appointed a CEO in Brazil for the first time since its debut in the country in 1999. Robert van Dijk will be in charge of developing and executing the strategy and expansion in the country and making the connection between the local business and the international brand better known.

In Brazil, Principal owns Claritas, an asset management company with R$9 billion under management, and Brasilprev, a joint venture with Banco do Brasil with R$328.7 billion – considering its 25% stake. It has a similar stake in Ciclic, a digital insurance brokerage platform.

According to Barbara McKenzie, senior executive director at Principal Global Investors, the idea of having local leadership is aligned with what Principal has in other markets it considers key to its expansion. “We had one person taking care of each one of the brands, but it was necessary to have a more holistic approach to the business,” she told Valor. “Robert’s presence helps tie the operations of the three companies together better, bringing more traction to the growth as a whole.”

Mr. Van Dijk is a well-known name in the Brazilian capital and investment market. He was the head of Anbima, the association that represents the sector, led Banco Votorantim’s asset management business and spent more than a decade at Bradesco’s asset management company. He had been working recently at Hieron Family Office, a wealth management firm he co-founded in 2019. In his 40-year career, Mr. Van Dijk has previously worked as an adviser to Bovespa and BM&F, the former stock markets now reunited as B3.

The executive will report to Roberto Walker, CEO of Principal Latin America, and Pat Halter, CEO of Principal Global Investors, Principal’s asset management arm.

Despite the interest rate hike in the country, with the key interest rate Selic back to double-digit levels, and the currency depreciation, Brazilians investors are going global, which encouraged the company to strengthen local operations, Ms. McKenzie says. “The timing is never going to be perfect, but as the group looks at the importance of the market and the demand, in the long run [the adverse environment] gets diluted, so it makes sense.”

Principal started in Brazil through its partnership with BB in Brasilprev before buying a stake in Claritas in 2012. The remainder of its stake in the asset management company was acquired in 2016. “The expectation is to continue to see demand for international assets and increasingly be known as Principal,” the executive continues. The individual brands will co-exist but giving greater visibility to the global brand.

Some products from Principal’s international portfolio are already offered in the Brazilian market through third-party platforms. Ciclic can be a channel to deepen distribution, but this is not in the group’s immediate plans.

*By Adriana Cotias — São Paulo

Source: Valor International

https://valorinternational.globo.com/

Broadband internet improves agricultural production, workers’ lives

Survey shows 71% of households in rural areas had internet access last year in Brazil

07/25/2022


Cristian Dalben — Foto: Divulgação

Cristian Dalben — Foto: Divulgação

The arrival of broadband internet to the Santo Antônio do Desejado farm, in Nova Ubiratã, a municipality in Mato Grosso with 11,000 inhabitants, spared farmer Cristian Dalben from a labor problem. “In the beginning, we didn’t have so much difficulty in hiring people because there was no internet. Today, I have 26-year-olds working with me,” he says, “and this younger generation doesn’t stay on a farm without a connection.”

Internet came to the property about 10 years ago, but via radio, with very low speed and limited to the farmhouse. “To shoot a video? No chance. Pictures were also difficult,” recalls the rural producer. Mr. Dalben managed to bring fiber optic connection to the farm three years ago, which, according to him, increased the satisfaction level of the workers. “Our employees are happy to be on the farm because they can have fun during their free time, watch Netflix or just surf the Internet,” he says.

The report on the benefits that the arrival of quality internet has brought to the workers of the Santo Antonio do Desejado farm shows that improved access represents more than just the possibility of using connected agricultural machinery or technologies of the so-called Internet of Things (IoT): it also changes the daily lives of all people involved in production. And this is no small matter.

According to a recent survey by the Regional Center for Studies on the Development of the Information Society (Cetic), 71% of households in rural areas had internet access last year in Brazil, an advance of 20 percentage points over 2019. Of this total, 58% had fixed broadband.

Mr. Dalben understands well the difference it makes to have internet access in the fields, and not only to streamline production. Thirteen years ago, when his father became ill and he had to leave Curitiba, where he was studying mechanical engineering, to take over the family business in Mato Grosso, the only means of contact with the world beyond the limits of the property was a landline phone. “I spent three years isolated,” he says.

Today, broadband keeps the farm connected to the world, which makes workers happier and allows farmers to extract the full potential of contracted digital technologies. The farm is connected to Bayer’s Climate FieldView platform and John Deere’s Operation Center. Before the connection reached the entire area of Santo Antônio do Desejado, the investment was underused, since the sending of data for analysis only happened when the machines returned to a point closer to the farm headquarters, where there was a connection.

“Recently, I was in the United States and the people were working on the harvest of the second yearly crop corn. I was able to observe the whole farm in real time,” says the farmer. “And days ago, a machine broke down. If this had happened in the past [when there was no internet], we would have had to run into town. This time, John Deere sent an online update that solved it.”

Connectivity improves business for equipment users and also for manufacturers. “Before, the technician would leave the city, go to the farm, come back, pick up the machine, and only then go to make the repair,” says Estela Dias, tactical marketing manager for precision technologies at John Deere in the country. “We have improved this service. Now, we can access the monitor of the equipment to understand the problem and go straight with the solution.”

Since 2020, a partnership between the U.S. agricultural machinery manufacturer and phone operator Claro has brought internet to an area of 2 million hectares. With ongoing negotiations, there is an expectation of coverage of more 3.5 million hectares. “Democratizing the connection in the fields also means connecting people. It helps retention [of workers in the fields], facilitates the arrival of content to them and allows advances such as telemedicine.”

Bayer, owner of the Clima FieldView platform, has been working to extend the reach of 4G technology in rural areas through ConectarAgro, an association it helped found. “Increasing connectivity in the field represents an opportunity for farmers to enjoy even more benefits and tools that help them make more accurate decisions,” says Thiago Bortoli, the platform’s head of marketing for Latin America.

The results of the farm in Nova Ubiratã are an example of the positive impacts of digital farming technology on crop productivity. Before the arrival of fast internet, Mr. Dalben produced 62 bags of soy and 100 bags of corn per hectare; now, the production is 75 bags of soy and 174 bags of corn per hectare, a performance well above the national average.

According to Marcos Ferrari, executive president of Conexis, association that represents telecoms operators in Brazil, the expansion of internet in farms has gained momentum since 2017. “This movement is expected to become even more accentuated after the auction of 5G coverage, in which companies have also committed to bring the 4G signal to thousands of municipalities,” he says.

*By José Florentino — São Paulo

Source: Valor International

https://valorinternational.globo.com/

Telcos under pressure at regulators

Association of service providers complains at CADE, Anatel against Telefônica, TIM, Claro about sale of Oi Móvel, at CADE, Anatel

07/26/2022


The Brazilian Association of Competitive Telecommunications Service Providers (TelComp) will file this week a formal complaint with antitrust regulator CADE and telecoms regulator Anatel against Telefónica’s subsidiary in Brazil (Telefônica Brasil, owner of Vivo), Telecom Italia’s TIM, and América Móvil’s Claro about the sale of Oi Móvel.

Telefônica, TIM, and Claro appealed to the courts this month because they disagreed with the values imposed by Anatel for the offer of wholesale products to competitors. For data traffic, the regulator stipulated R$2.6 per gigabyte (GB). But the telcos’ proposals range from R$16 to R$48 per GB.

These offers are the compensation that the regulators imposed on the three telcos to give their approval to Oi Móvel’s purchase. They are remedies, or conditional measures, to ensure competition in the market with the elimination of a competitor.

The incumbents decided to challenge the prices in the approval phase. They asked Anatel to reexamine the case. In court, they obtained injunctions that suspended the obligation to submit offers.

TelComp “condemns the attitude of operators with significant market power that, before the closing of the acquisition of control of Oi Móvel, made a public commitment to society to fully comply with the remedies imposed by Anatel and CADE promptly.”

The entity will ask the courts for its inclusion in the case as a third interested party, Luiz Henrique Barbosa, head of TelComp, told Valor. Claro’s case is in the 1st Federal Civil Court of the Judiciary Section of the Federal District (Brasília); those of Vivo and TIM are in secrecy.

Mr. Barbosa pointed out that the telcos’ retail price is at R$2.8 per GB. “The price Anatel has set is not detached from reality, nor is it a subsidy to competitors. It is not below cost. If they [the three telcos] say this, it is because they are practicing predatory pricing.”

Anatel and CADE officials are studying measures, including undoing the sale if the telcos do not accept the fixed prices. “If it is not possible to undo the operation, they can be fined,” said Mr. Barbosa.

*By Ivone Santana — São Paulo