According to Crisil Research’s SME Report 2022, half of them suffered a contraction in their earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) margins because of a sharp rise in commodity prices last fiscal, compared with the pre-pandemic (fiscal 2020) level.
The Crisil report covered 69 sectors and 147 clusters that logged aggregate revenue of Rs 47 lakh crore, representing 20-25 per cent of the gross domestic product (implying two-thirds coverage of the MSME universe).
“SMEs in several sectors saw market share loss of over three per cent and Ebitda margin erosion compared with fiscal 2020 last fiscal. For instance, the pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions impacted small pesticides manufacturers more,” Pushan Sharma, Director, Crisil Research, said.
According to Sharma, the large pesticide makers leveraged their global presence to procure raw materials, so eating up a huge chunk of the SME pie.
Edible oil SMEs lost market share because an increase in hygiene quotient because of the pandemic meant less buyers for oil sold loose.
Pesticides and edible oil SMEs suffered margin contraction of 100 bps and 200 bps, respectively, due to partial pass-through – at less than 60 per cent – of increase in raw material costs, Sharma said.
A handful of sectors, such as steel pig iron, gained share where only SMEs could capitalise on revival in infrastructure demand, as large plants captively consume their output, Crisil said.
As a majority of tobacco selling points remained closed due to health concerns, tobacco processing SMEs, which largely sell loose tobacco and bidi, gained market share.
Surging input costs weighed heavy on sectors that operate in low-margin products and have limited pass-through.
Crisil sees sectors such as transport operators, edible oil, gems and jewellery to be the most vulnerable to Ebitda losses owing to wafer thin margin of less than three per cent and limited input cost pass-through of under 60 per cent.
Despite a rise in freight rates, Ebitda margin of small fleet transport operators was impacted by 50 bps in fiscal 2022, over fiscal 2020, due to limited cost pass-through of rising fuel cost that forms about half of the total cost.
Elizabeth Master, Associate Director, Crisil Research, said: “Amid the pandemic and ongoing geopolitical crisis, sectors such as textiles and pharmaceuticals have offered a ray of hope for exports. Cotton yarn exports have benefited from the US ban on Xinjiang, China-made items, apart from the China+1 policy.”
The readymade garment industry, with 70 per cent MSME share, gained from supply constraints in China, and from emerging global opportunities.
Pharma exports soared on pandemic-related demand, even as the domestic industry was struggling with lower volume demand.
Going forward, Tirupur-based MSME garment manufacturers could benefit from export orders diverted from an economically floundering Sri Lanka, Master said.
In the milieu, MSMEs should see revenue increase 9-11 per cent this fiscal to 1.25 times the fiscal 2020 level, though Ebitda margin is likely to remain range-bound at 5-5.5 per cent.
While the industry Ebitda margin is expected to touch the pre-pandemic level this fiscal, MSMEs in more than half the sectors will buck the trend.
The performance is also underwhelming in the context of overall corporate India, which is expected to log a 10-14 per cent increase in revenue and Ebitda margin of 19-20 per cent.