With tough market at home, China's heavy gear makers gain traction overseas
By Fang Yan and Matthew Miller
BEIJING (Reuters) - When Guangxi Liugong Machinery 000528.SZ was bidding to sell wheel loaders to a Thai rice merchant a few years ago, company president Zeng Guangan knew he needed to customize his equipment to beat off Komatsu Ltd (6301.T: Quote) and other Japanese rivals.
"Thailand has been using Japanese wheel loaders for years," explained Zeng. "The seating was getting higher and higher, but the vehicle's arm wasn't long enough." That works for loading dirt or concrete blocks, but was unwieldy for hauling rice.
Liugong's modifications won over buyers, and the Guangxi-based firm says it now makes one of every three wheel loaders sold in Thailand. It has also increased its marketing in Brazil, Russia, India and Turkey, helping increase overseas revenue to 30 percent of its total sales - up from below 9 percent in 2010.
Other Chinese machinery makers, including Sany Heavy Industry 600031.SS, Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science & Technology 000157.SZ 1157.HK and XCMG Construction Machinery 000425.SZ, are also turning to emerging markets for growth as they wrestle with cut-throat competition at home, exacerbated by a supply glut - partly a legacy of heavy stimulus spending in the wake of the global financial crisis.
Zoomlion and Sany are due to announce January-September results later on Wednesday. Smaller rival Liugong on Tuesday said its third-quarter profit rose 2.6 percent, while XCMG's net income dropped 45.5 percent.
Shares in Sany and XCMG have fallen by around a third so far this year, while Zoomlion is down 40 percent. The sector median stock price decline is just 6 percent.
Meantime, Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N: Quote) and Komatsu say China remains a bright spot in a global market suffering from a downturn in orders for mining equipment. While the global market is forecast to grow to $189 billion by 2017, the world's two leading equipment makers have this month cut their full-year profit outlooks.
"Market demand (in China) may not be falling as much as before, but the industry has yet to feel the breezes of spring," said Shi Yang at UK-based industry consultancy Off-Highway Research Ltd. "Foreign companies' clients in China are mostly big state enterprises and their business tends to be more stable." Continued...