Blue skies for aluminum producers

In line with its blue skies program, China (FXI) passed an “Air Pollution Control” regulation earlier this year which required aluminum producers in the four provinces around Beijing to cut aluminum output. The move is targeted towards reducing pollution and stabilizing the market. Smelters and aluminum refineries were mandated to implement cuts of at least 30%. Accordingly, the Asian (AAXJ) (VPL) country is estimated to cut around 3-4 million tonnes of aluminum capacity by the end of 2017. Since China is the world leader in aluminum production (chart below), the move is impacting market dynamics and prices for this base metal.

The price of aluminum has been treading north

Meanwhile, the price of aluminum is already treading north (see chart below) and is likely to continue, at least over the medium term.

This is bad news for the automotive sector being that they are one of the key drivers of global aluminum demand. Most equipment manufacturers and auto body producers are located in developed markets (EFA) (VEA). So, while auto parts makers stand to face dark clouds, aluminium producers have blue skies, as they benefit from the rise in the price of their product.

The largest aluminium producers in the emerging markets

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Here’s a list of the five largest aluminum producers located in emerging markets (EEM) (VWO):

  1. UC Rusal (Russia)
  2. China Hongqiao Group Ltd. (China)
  3. Aluminium Corp. of China (China)
  4. China Power Investment Corp. (China)
  5. Shandong Xinfa Aluminium & Electricity Group Ltd. (China)

United Company RUSAL (RUSAL.PA), Up 33% YTD

The world’s largest primary aluminum producer based out of Russia (RSX), UC Rusal, produced a total of 3.7 million tonnes of aluminum in 2016. The company was formed by the merger of RUSAL, SUAL, and the alumina assets of Glencore (GLNCY) in March 2007. Currently, it accounts for almost 9% of the world’s primary aluminum output and 9% of the world’s alumina production.

The company’s GDR currently trades at the Euronext Paris Exchange under the ticker RUSAL. The GDR is up 33.2% on a YTD basis and commands a market cap over $9 billion (as of November 20). In the FY2016, the company reported an ROA (return on assets) of 8.65% and an EBITDA margin of 19.05%. The company’s revenue sources are spread across Asian and European countries with the Netherlands accounting for 28.6%, followed by Russia at 19.7%. 82.2% of the company’s long-term assets are located in Russia.

China Hongqiao Group Ltd. (1378.HK), Up 39% YTD

The Shandong province-based China Hongqiao Group Ltd. is one of the largest (as of 2016) and lowest-cost aluminum producers in the world with a combined annual capacity of 3.61 million tonnes.

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The company’s stock currently trades at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange under the ticker 1378. The stock is up 39.3% on a YTD basis and commands a market cap of about $69 billion (as of November 20). The stock currently trades at a P/E of 11.54. Estimated forward P/E for the stock stands at 8.13. In the FY2016, the company reported an ROA (return on assets) of 3.6% and an EBITDA margin of 30.1%. The company’s revenue sources and long-term assets are concentrated in China. The stock has 50% BUY recommendations and 50% HOLD recommendations from the 6 analysts that reviewed the stock.

Aluminum Corp. of China (ACH) (2600.HK), Up 58% YTD

China’s state-backed producer Aluminum Corporation of China Limited (aka Chalco) used to be the largest refined metal maker in China until China Hongqiao Group overtook it in 2015. Chalco produces about 3.31 million tonnes of aluminum annually.

The NYSE-listed ADR of the company trades under the ticker of ACH and commands a market cap of $12.9 billion. The company’s stock also trades at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange under the ticker 2600. The stock is up 58.44% YTD and commands a market cap of $98.2 billion (as of November 20). The stock currently trades at a P/E of 58.9. Estimated forward P/E for the stock stands at 25.5. In the FY2016, the company reported an ROA (return on assets) of 0.21% and an EBITDA margin of 8.9%. The company’s revenue sources and long-term assets are majorly concentrated in China. The stock has 53.3% BUY recommendations, 33.3% HOLD recommendations, and 13.3% SELL recommendations from the 15 analysts that reviewed the stock.

China Power Investment Corp.

China Power Investment Corporation (CPI) is one of the five largest gencos (generation companies) in China and a comprehensive energy group integrating industries of power, coal, aluminum, railway, and port. The company has an alumina refinery capacity of 2.6 million tonnes. The company’s stock is not listed on any exchange. In July 2015, the company was merged with the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) to form State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC).

Shandong Xinfa Aluminium & Electricity Group Ltd.

Shandong Xinfa is another privately held large-scale enterprise group in China. The company has an aluminum production capacity of about 1.63 million tonnes.

While above is a list of the largest aluminum producers based out of the emerging markets, UK’s Rio Tinto (RIO) and US’s Alcoa (AA) count among the notable developed market (EFA) (VEA) based producers of aluminum.

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