Thursday, July 30, 2009

New auto factories?

This is a clear proof that financial heads still rule the automobile companies. They have been very successful in taking their companies' towards financial disasters and have not seemed to have learnt anything out of it. Check this link

In spite of the existing recession and the low capacity utilisation of the auto industry, Honda and Nissan have announced setting up of new plants in China. The article says that they are doing this to end the slump. Wow! Ever heard a dietitian tell her obese client to eat more? That is what is exactly happening here. Logically the move makes no sense. But finance has nothing to do with logic.

The way I see it, setting up new plants in China to sell cars in China will impact the transportation costs. Instead of importing vehicles from Japan or any other part of the world, the cars can be made and sold locally. They would also benefit from the low labour rates in China. Wonderful - the cost per car comes down. But, what about the capital cost of setting up the new plant? Well, that could very easily be engineered to reflect as depreciation at a low level. This way, the Chinese venture would easily show profits. And the existing plants? Again, the finance wizards are sure to have done something here also. They would probably defer the depreciation for the existing plants or hive them off as a separate company and ensure that the parent company 'shows' profits.

The first thing that makes me sad is that banks do not seem to realise this game. They seem to merely look at ratios and freely lend to companies. So, an over leveraged company can easily pass of its debts to another subsidiary and present themselves to banks for new loans. And, most of these companies do get the new loans they had applied for.

The worse thing is that the manufacturing companies themselves do not recognise their follies. Sometime everything is going to catch up. The recession is here and nothing has happened to make it go away. Some people never seem to learn.

No comments: