Nigeria’s huge beer market offers opening for more investments

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Nigeria and nine other African countries have emerged as very promising beer markets, a research by Renaissance Capital, a leading emerging markets investment bank has revealed. Renaissance analysts expect significant sector growth across the region, driven by a growing population, increasing discretionary income, high alcohol consumption per capita, a strong preference for beer, and the expansion and increased efficiency of brewers’ distribution networks.

Before now, two traditional big players in the Nigerian brewing sector, Nigerian Breweries Plc and Guinness Nigeria Plc, had been engaged in stiff competition for control of the nation’s beer market.
SABMiller, a global brewing giant with headquarters in South Africa has recently joined the fray.
The battle for market dominance in Nigeria ’s robust beer market was kick-off by the entry of SABMiller of South Africa in 2009.

A report from Imara, a pan-African financial services group, reveals why the beer industry giants, local and international, are at war over who controls this important liquor market.
The beer market is growing by about 7 per cent in volume terms a year, yet consumption per capita remains low in comparison to many international markets, suggesting continued growth is in prospect, says the Imara report.
Figures from the Imara report indicate the market growth potential for successful players in the country’s non-oil sector. According to the report, the Nigerian economy grew by an annualised 7.4 percent in the first quarter; the non-oil economy was the major driver, growing by 8.5 percent versus the 2.9 percent contribution from the oil economy. The report says first quarter sales at Nigerian Breweries are up 30 percent, while net profits have risen by 22.7 percent. For the three months to the end of March, Guinness announced a sales growth of 11.4 percent and a rise in net profit of 32 percent.

Analysts believe the latest revelations by Renaissance analysts on the nation’s attractive beer market will stimulate fresh robust competition in the sector, among the current three big players and possible new entrants who will want to have a piece of the action.
A series of ground -breaking research reports on African brewers, covering the markets of Nigeria , Zimbabwe , Kenya , Uganda , Tanzania , Rwanda , Burundi , East DRC, Southern Sudan and Ethiopia , shows that these African countries are huge markets for beer.

“The breweries sector in Sub-Saharan Africa is very attractive,” says Nothando Ndebele, Head of Research, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) at Renaissance Capital. “While per-capita consumption of alcohol is as high in SSA as in most developed markets, consumption of commercial beverages remains low relative to home-brewed alternatives. With rising income levels and increasing rates of urbanisation, we expect commercial beverages to continue gaining market share. This should support strong volume growth for the sector.”
Demand for beer in Nigeria and East Africa has traditionally been constrained by supply, according to the research. Analysts conclude that accelerating market growth – driven by the ongoing shift to commercially produced beverages – will be supported by increased investment by major local brewers.

Nigeria is the most attractive beer market in SSA, note Renaissance analysts, with the highest alcohol consumption per capita (mostly home-brewed) and the largest population of drinkers. The market – Africa’s largest (excluding South Africa ) – reached 18 mn hl in 2010, with consumption per capita of 11.6 litres. Analysts expect the Nigerian beer market to expand at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 13 percent over the next 10 years.

Market leaders, Guinness Nigeria (rated BUY at Renaissance Capital, with a target price of N303/share) and Nigerian Breweries (rated HOLD, with a N97/share target price) have committed to substantially increased capital expenditure, with Guinness Nigeria upping capital spending five times on previous years. Competition has been relatively low so far, with supportive regulation, and Renaissance analysts expect this to continue. They see Guinness Nigeria as a more attractive investment than Nigerian Breweries, offering greater valuation upside and clearer expansion plans.

In the broadly defined East Africa region, beer consumption reached 18.6 million hectolitres in 2010, and increased at a CAGR of 12 percent over 2005-2010. Renaissance analysts expect this strong growth to continue, particularly in Uganda , Tanzania and Rwanda ; and initiate coverage of East Africa Breweries.
Excluding Kenya , competition in the East African countries is more intense than in other regions, such as West Africa , Renaissance says, noting that this has incentivised brewers to innovate, expanding their market through low-cost beers. Analysts see further upside to volume growth, driven by continued innovation in low-cost products and improvements in distribution.