x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Industries Qatar posts stellar profit results

Industries Qatar reported a 75 per cent increase in profits for the first quarter, compared with the same period last year.

Industries Qatar (IQ), a petrochemicals and metals company, reported a 75 per cent jump in first-quarter profits compared with the same period last year.

It was IQ's strongest set of earnings since the third quarter of 2008.

The timing is especially good for investors in the short term with the MSCI soon to decide whether Qatar will be upgraded to an emerging market.

"In the near term, we appreciate that with IQ being one of the largest Qatari names on the Doha exchange, many investors may be maintaining holdings in anticipation of Qatar's inclusion in the MSCI emerging markets index when a decision is announced in June," said Scott Darling, an analyst at Nomura in Dubai.

The Gulf's second-largest chemical producer by market value made a first-quarter net profit of 2.1 billion rials, compared with 1.2bn rials in the same period last year, according to a statement to the Qatar Exchange. The results beat analyst estimates by 15 per cent.

Industries Qatar moved up 2.8 per cent to 147.70 rials a share yesterday. Qatar is hoping to receive the classification of "emerging market" from MSCI Barra. It is now considered a frontier market.

But in the medium term, Mr Darling remains cautious about the company's outlook. "Restrictions on the North field [in Qatar, the biggest gasfield in the world] limit growth this decade, its chemical portfolio is lacking in new speciality products which developed consumers require, and we do not see potential expansion in its steel business as a positive," he said.

At first glance, Qatar's planned US$60bn in spending for the Fifa World Cup in 2022 would indicate Industries Qatar will benefit through its steel business. But Qatar's steel pricing policy means the company has to sell steel at local prices rather than international market rates. As the company expands the steel business to meet local demand, this could translate to lower margins for the company as a whole, Mr Darling said.

The company's cash position fell sharply over the quarter, down to 3.2bn rials compared with 5.3bn rials in the same period last year.