This has been a satisfying year in which your company has achieved many highs - Highest Volumes, Highest Operating Profit, Highest Net Profit, Highest Earning Per Share, Highest Market Capitalization, Highest Dividend Per Share (based on holding after split and bonus) and its Highest Credit Rating.
The year started on a positive note with a stable business environment. The exports for the industry which were at 5,00,000 Mt. in 2015, were 5,01,000 Mt in 2016. In absence of a futures market for majority of the period, the prices were less volatile. The forced liquidation of the castor seeds stock held by speculators flooded the market pushing their prices to an unattractive level for the farmers. This has resulted in a lower crop this year with the estimates of the current year being pegged at 1 million tons against last year''''s crop of 1.4 million tons.
During the year your company has received an A2 , A- rating for its short term debt and long term debt respectively (upgraded from A2 and BBB ) from CRISIL, reflecting your company''''s current financial standing and its responsible approach towards financial and business risk management.
Your company continues to invest in new products to build a versatile portfolio with a vision to cater to all the industries across geographies to insulate it from slow down or competition in a particular region or sector. Your company sells more than 75 different products to more than 70 countries across the globe. Today, with the depressed petroleum prices being an accepted reality, this approach has helped in maintaining its performance.
Your company''''s investment in sebacic acid has faced challenges in the past. Main reasons being competition with petroleum products and Chinese competition. Prices of petroleum subsititutes for sebacic acid have fallen given the crash in crude oil prices in the recent past. Chinese competition on pricing remains intense. Your company has been putting in considerable efforts in this project to create a profitable niche for ourselves. We have started to make progress last year, albeit at a slow pace. It appears that it will be a while before your company is able to generate commensurate returns to the investment and effort.
Your company''''s joint venture “Vithal Castor Polyols Pvt. Ltd"— an Indo-Japanese-Korean joint venture has also been slow to take off the ground. It''''s products compete directly with petroleum derived products and thus faces stiff price competition. This has been the cause of the under-utilization of capacity at this plant. Your company, along with its joint venture partners, is working towards improving the product mix to improve capacity utilization.
This year on 7th May, 2017, your company reached an important landmark of completing 25 years since its inception on 7th May, 1992. 17th August, 2017 will mark the completion of 24 years of listing. At a price of over Rs.1000/- it became a 400 bagger (after accounting for 1:1 split and 1:1 bonus) for the original investor in price appreciation alone, besides receiving dividend of over Rs 196.31 per share (after accounting for 1:1 split and 1:1 bonus after including proposed dividend), amounting to 23% weighted average dividend payout on profits. This performance is reflective of the philosophy of your management to create long term wealth and to distribute dividend after reserving sufficient capital for future growth.
I am pleased to state that the CSR program was initiated during the year. It is your company''''s endeavor to create a program for meaningful impact on the castor farmers and the environment. On May 2, 2016, the companies Arkema, BASF and Jayant Agro supported by the NGO- Solidaridad signed a contract to foster sustainability in the castor oil supply chain.
Under the name Sustainable Castor Initiative- “Pragati", the four project members aim to improve the livelihood of castor farmers and contracted workers by supporting them to optimize yield and reduce environmental impact. Additionally, a sustainability code for castor oil will be developed which will allow the Indian farmers to offer the first certified sustainable castor oil in the global market. The project duration is planned for three years with the potential of an up-scaling afterwards. This is a step to take responsibility, as an industry, towards the planet and its people.
In the next few pages of the annual report we have put forward the performance of your company since inception. You will observe that barring a few years, your company has managed to achieve above average performance consistently. The credit for this performance can be attributed to passion and dedication of our employees, exemplary guidance of the Board of Directors and the unstinted support received from all the stake holders - including our customers, suppliers, bankers, associates, collaborators and last but not the least, our shareholders. At this silver jubilee occasion, I would like to place on record my gratitude to all our contributors.
Your company will continue to strive to maintain this rich legacy of performance with incessant effort and dedication, focusing on innovation by investing in Research & Development, new products, processes and thus reflecting our founder''''s philosophy - “As you sow, so you reap".
With Best Wishes,
Abhay V. Udeshi