Analysts express concern over CCHBC’s 2015 earnings, amid currency headwinds in Nigeria

While Coca-Cola HBC’s (CCHBC) 2015 full year financial results showed a remarkable improvement in terms of volume growth, 3% and 16% rise in operating profits,  revenue for the company declined 2.5% to €6.35bn ($7bn), while profits also fell 4.9% to €280.3m.

Analysts, Edward Mundy at Normura Securities and those at Barclays Capital have expressed concern with the results, with Barclays downgrading CCHBC’s investment rating to underweight from equal weight in its wider European Beverages & Tobacco portfolio, stating that it remains cautious of the soft drink maker’s fourth-quarter results.

Barclays said that CCHBC under-estimated foreign currency devaluations for 2016 full year, which the company placed at €135m. They believe the company’s performance has been driven more by the concerns over the Russian Rouble rather than incremental worries of Nigerian Naira devaluation. They feel the currency exposure was likely to be twice as much because CCHBC did not take into full account of currency issues in Nigeria where the Naira has come under a lot of pressure and facing potential devaluation.

Nigeria accounts for about 10% of CCHBC’s profits and 40% of its 2015 volume growth, according to Mundy at Normura.

“Despite strong execution, the risk of a Naira devaluation remains,” Mundy said. “We would estimate that a 10% devaluation of the Naira is worth €7m negative to the bottom line.”

“A more extreme devaluation, one that took the Naira to current black market levels could leave a €50m hole in CCHBC’s EBIT,” Mundy added.

The Naira’s unofficial or black market exchange rate had fallen to N400 to the dollar as of Monday, while the official rate remains at N197. However, the Naira rallied back on Wednesday to settle at N310 to the dollar, erasing some of the loss.

The government has said as early as this past weekend that it was opposed to any form of devaluation.

The Naira loss in value has impacted firms that are dependent on imports for raw materials or finished goods, as they are finding it difficult accessing foreign exchange.

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