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Nestle Nigeria Sees Margins Pressured as Inflation Weighs

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Nestle Nigeria Plc, a unit of the world’s biggest food company, will struggle to maintain profit-margin growth in 2016 as the highest inflation in nearly 11 years and a lack of foreign currency stalls the economy in Africa’s most populous country.

“We haven’t seen the bottom” of the downturn, Chief Executive Officer Dharnesh Gordhon, 51, said in an interview in the commercial capital, Lagos, on Aug. 10. A shortage of dollars has made it difficult to import raw materials, he said.

Nestle Nigeria, about 64 percent owned by Vevey, Switzerland-based Nestle SA, is seeking to use its market-leading position in the country to ride out an economic contraction of 1.8 percent this year, Nigeria’s first recession in three decades.

The country, which vies with Angola as Africa’s biggest oil producer, has seen income plunge after the price of oil, which accounts for about 70 percent of government revenue, fell more than 50 percent over the past two years. Inflation accelerated to an annual rate of 16.5 percent in June.

The profit “margin is under pressure” as the company can’t pass all cost increases onto the consumer, Gordhon said.

While the Central Bank of Nigeria seeks to support the naira with currency controls, companies are finding dollar supply unpredictable, according to Gordhon. His company can go for as long as three weeks without being able to source dollars, he said.

“I wish there was a consistent pattern that you can plan with,” the CEO said.

Nestle Nigeria, which makes Maggi cube seasoning and Milo cocoa, is counting on an expanding middle class in the country and across Africa to increase and sustain demand for its packaged foods, the CEO said. It exports Maggi cubes to other African countries and to Europe, mainly to Nigerians living in those countries. While revenue grew 22 percent to 80.4 billion naira ($247 million) during the six months ending June 30 from the same period a year earlier, costs rose 28 percent, to 47.7 billion naira, Nestle Nigeria’s financial statement shows. Its Swiss parent company reports first-half earnings on Thursday.

“The Nigerian business for us is one of the best in Africa and it continues to grow,” Gordhon said. “We’ve had a compound annual growth of over 10 percent over the last five years. We’ve doubled the business in four years.”

With 92 percent of what the company sells produced locally, Nestle has an advantage over rivals that rely on imports, the CEO said. Rivals include Cadbury Nigeria Plc, Unilever Nigeria Plc and imported brands of packaged food.

‘Resilient Economy’

“What I see is that there will be few players and this gives us the opportunity to solidify our market position,” Gordhon said. “The market is shrinking in terms of total size of category, but our share is increasing.”

Nigeria’s economic downturn is likely to bottom out by the end of this year, with a turnaround set to begin next year, according to Gordhon. The naira has weakened 38 percent against the dollar since the central bank in June dropped a 16-month peg against the U.S. currency. The naira strengthened 0.9 percent to 321.25 by 6:49 a.m. in Lagos on Wednesday.

“Nigeria is an extremely resilient economy,” he said. “People have gone through worse things in this country. What you need is constancy of economic policy or monetary policy. If you get those things, businesses can adjust. ”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Crude Oil

Nigeria’s Crude Oil Production Falls for Second Consecutive Month, OPEC Reports

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Crude Oil

Nigeria’s crude oil production declined for the second consecutive month in March, according to the latest report from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Data obtained from OPEC’s Monthly Oil Market Report for April 2024 reveals that Nigeria’s crude oil production depreciated from 1.322 million barrels per day (mbpd) in February to 1.231 mbpd in March.

This decline underscores the challenges faced by Africa’s largest oil-producing nation in maintaining consistent output levels.

Despite efforts to stabilize production, Nigeria has struggled to curb the impact of oil theft and pipeline vandalism, which continue to plague the industry.

The theft and sabotage of oil infrastructure have resulted in significant disruptions, contributing to the decline in crude oil production observed in recent months.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) recently disclosed alarming statistics regarding oil theft incidents in the country.

According to reports, the NNPCL recorded 155 oil theft incidents within a single week, these incidents included illegal pipeline connections, refinery operations, vessel infractions, and oil spills, among others.

The persistent menace of oil theft poses a considerable threat to Nigeria’s economy and its position as a key player in the global oil market.

The illicit activities not only lead to revenue losses for the government but also disrupt the operations of oil companies and undermine investor confidence in the sector.

In response to the escalating problem, the Nigerian government has intensified efforts to combat oil theft and vandalism.

However, addressing these challenges requires a multi-faceted approach, including enhanced security measures, regulatory reforms, and community engagement initiatives.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Edge Higher Amidst Fear of Middle East Conflict

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Crude Oil

Amidst growing apprehensions of a potential conflict in the Middle East, oil prices have inched higher as investors anticipate a strike from Iran.

The specter of a showdown between Iran or its proxies and Israel has sent tremors across the oil market as traders brace for possible supply disruptions in the region.

Brent crude oil climbed above the $90 price level following a 1.1% gain on Wednesday while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) hovered near $86.

The anticipation of a strike, believed to be imminent by the United States and its allies, has cast a shadow over market sentiment. Such an escalation would follow Iran’s recent threat to retaliate against Israel for an attack on a diplomatic compound in Syria.

The trajectory of oil prices this year has been heavily influenced by geopolitical tensions and supply dynamics. Geopolitical unrest, coupled with ongoing OPEC+ supply cuts, has propelled oil prices nearly 18% higher since the beginning of the year.

However, this upward momentum is tempered by concerns such as swelling US crude stockpiles, now at their highest since July, and the impact of a hot US inflation print on Federal Reserve rate-cut expectations.

Despite the bullish sentiment prevailing among many of the world’s top traders and Wall Street banks, with some envisioning a return to $100 for the global benchmark, caution lingers.

Macquarie Group has cautioned that Brent could enter a bear market in the second half of the year if geopolitical events fail to materialize into actual supply disruptions.

“The current geopolitical environment continues to provide support to oil prices,” remarked Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy for ING Groep NV in Singapore. However, he added, “further upside is limited without a fresh catalyst or further escalation in the Middle East.”

The rhetoric from Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reaffirming a vow to retaliate against Israel, has only heightened tensions in the region.

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Commodities

Geopolitical Uncertainty Drives Gold Prices Higher Despite Fed Rate Cut Concerns

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As tensions simmer in the Middle East and concerns loom over Federal Reserve policy, gold continues its upward trajectory, defying expectations and reinforcing its status as the ultimate safe-haven asset.

The latest surge in gold prices comes amidst escalating geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.

Reports suggest that the United States and its allies are bracing for potential missile or drone strikes by Iran or its proxies on military and government targets in Israel. Such a significant escalation in the six-month-old conflict has sent shockwaves through financial markets, prompting investors to seek refuge in gold.

Despite initial setbacks earlier in the week, gold resumed its blistering rally, buoyed by the specter of geopolitical uncertainty.

On Wednesday, the precious metal witnessed its most significant decline in almost a month following a hotter-than-expected US inflation readout.

This unexpected data led traders to recalibrate their expectations for Federal Reserve interest rate cuts this year, causing the yield on 10-year Treasuries to surge above 4.5%.

However, gold’s resilience in the face of shifting market dynamics remains remarkable. Even as concerns mount over the Fed’s rate-cutting trajectory, the allure of gold as a safe-haven asset persists.

Prices hover just shy of a record high reached earlier in the week, propelled by robust buying from central banks.

Market analysts interviewed by Bloomberg anticipate further gains in gold prices, citing continued geopolitical tensions and strong momentum in the market.

The precious metal’s near-20% rally since mid-February underscores its enduring appeal as a hedge against uncertainty and inflationary pressures.

At 9:54 a.m. in Singapore, spot gold rose 0.3% to $2,341.58 an ounce, signaling continued investor confidence in the metal’s resilience.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, meanwhile, remained relatively unchanged near its highest level since November.

Silver, often considered a bellwether for precious metals, held steady after reaching a three-year high, while platinum and palladium also registered gains.

As the world navigates through a complex web of geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainties, gold remains a beacon of stability in an increasingly volatile landscape.

Its ability to weather market fluctuations and maintain its allure as a safe-haven asset reaffirms its timeless appeal to investors seeking refuge amidst uncertainty.

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