Italy´s chemicals sector is finally scoring at home due to a modest economic rebound, while Ireland has all top pharmaceuticals players in the team.
European football championship 2016
Sector playing field: chemicals/pharmaceuticals industry
Italy: finally scoring at home
In 2015 Italian chemicals/pharmaceuticals production increased 1.3%, to EUR 82 billion. Exports increased 4.2% in volume, but at last domestic demand started to contribute positively (up 2.5 % in volume). However, demand from Italian buyers still remains uneven: while demand grew from automotive and consumer goods, textile and construction demand are still weak. In 2016 production growth of 1.4% is expected, with domestic demand increasing.
The margins of many chemicals/pharmaceuticals businesses remain squeezed by high energy and labour costs, despite lower oil prices. Italian specialty chemicals producers have not benefitted from the significant commodity price decrease.
Competition in the low value added chemicals segment is high due to overcapacities and modest domestic demand, still below the pre-crisis level. Competition in the high value added segment is lower thanks to high entry barriers.
The gearing of businesses in this industry is rather low, as they usually have above average solvency ratios and good margins, in general higher than the average for Italian manufacturers, allowing regular debt repayment.
Ireland: all top pharmaceuticals players in the team
The Irish chemicals/pharmaceuticals sector is mainly dominated by companies active in both pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturing and dosage form manufacturing. Nine out of the top ten global pharmaceuticals companies are located in Ireland, making it the largest net exporter of pharmaceuticals in the world.
The chemicals and pharmaceuticals segments combined account for about 50% the value of products manufactured in Ireland and account for 60% of Irish exports.
The demand situation is benign, with new drugs being developed in Ireland from R&D now coming on line for sale. Sales of other chemicals/pharmaceuticals products manufactured in Ireland remain robust. Businesses´ margins are expected to remain stable.
The sector is largely reliant on its own finances or external investors for monies. Some companies also receive government funding for certain products. Companies are usually highly profitable, with consistent and stable growth.
Players to watch
Fine and specialty chemicals businesses (paints, inks and adhesives, detergents and cosmetics) excel due to a high export share, lower impact of raw material prices and energy costs compared to the basic chemicals segment, and good margin ratios.
Pharmaceuticals producers benefit from a high export share of sales (more than 70%). High margins allow consistent investments in research and development.
Compared to manufacturers, chemicals wholesalers and retailers usually have a lower solvency and higher gearing ratios to finance the working capital.Pharmaceuticals retailers and pharmacies are affected by overcapacities and partly by long payment duration from public bodies.
Ireland is a growing centre for the manufacture of biopharmaceuticals – second in importance only to the US.
Net selling value of chemical products (not including the pharmaceuticals industry) increased in value from EUR 11.1 billion in 2013 to EUR 14.6 billion in 2014, a year-on-year increase of 31.5%.
Major strengths and weaknesses
Italian chemicals/pharmaceuticals industry: strengths
Irish chemicals/pharmaceuticals industry: strengths
- High degree of internationalisation
- The sector records above average solvency and margin ratios compared to Italian manufacturing
- The industry has the lowest bank bad debt ratio compared to other Italian sectors
- The industry benefits from the recovery of the Italian economy
- Good payment track record
- High productivity levels with consistent growth and investment
- Highly qualified workforce with ability to adapt
- Specific industry initiatives offered by the government and industry to encourage research and innovation
- Strong international reputation for developing new products and fully adhering to all national and international regulations
- Low levels of insolvencies as a large number of companies based in Ireland are large multinationals with good payment performance
Italian chemicals/pharmaceuticals industry: weaknesses
Irish chemicals/pharmaceuticals industry: weaknesses
- High energy and labour costs affect margins
- Problems remain for chemicals producers in the fertilizer segment dependent on domestic construction, textiles and leathers
- Increasing competition, especially from Asia
- High cost base with both energy and labour costs higher than the EU average
- High dependency on inward investment from multinational companies (particularly from the US & UK) rather than home-grown entities
- Global downturns or recessions in large economies such as the US and UK can have a disproportionate effect on the industry in Ireland
- Increased competition from China and the US due to lower oil and production prices
Fair play ranking: payment behaviour and insolvencies
Italian chemicals/pharmaceuticals industry
On average, payments in the Italian chemicals sector take around 60 days.
Payment experience is good, and the level of protracted payments has been low over the past couple of years. Payments generally occur on time.
Non-payment notifications are low, and even decreased further in the last six months. The number of non-payment cases is expected to remain at a low level in H2 of 2016.
The level of chemicals/pharmaceuticals insolvencies is low, and this is expected to remain unchanged in H2 of 2016, sustained by further economic growth in Italy.
Irish chemicals/pharmaceuticals industry
On average, payments take around 30 days.
Payment experience is very good, and the level of protracted payments has been low over the past couple of years.
Non-payment notifications are low, and are expected to remain at a low level in H2 of 2016.
The level of chemicals/pharmaceuticals insolvencies is very low, and this is expected to remain unchanged in H2 of 2016.