These four countries account for more than two-thirds of regional sales of all segments, according to a late May financial community presentation by Tim Knight, the president of Sherwin-William’s Latin America coatings group, in Cleveland. By country, Brazil accounts for 30 percent of all regional sales, Mexico accounts for 20 percent, Colombia accounts for 11 percent, and Argentina accounts for six percent, he indicated.
From a global perspective, Latin America ex-Mexico accounted for eight percent of worldwide paint and coatings demand in 2012, according to the World Paint & Coatings Industry Association, or WPCIA, in Washington, D.C. Add Mexico to the mix and Latin America is well on the way to consuming 10 percent of global demand.
Not too long ago, Latin America was seen by U.S. paint and coatings companies as an ancillary source of income following domestic sales. Today, the region is of crucial importance as a source of the major players’ global income. AkzoNobel, for example, reports that 11 percent of all revenues in 2012 came from Latin America, which now is of “nearly equal importance to North America for the company’s operations.” Similarly, Latin America is estimated to represent nine percent of Sherwin-Williams $9.5 billion global sales, 13 percent of RPM’s global coatings sales of $4 billion, and 14 percent of DuPont’s global paint and coatings sales of $5.3 billion.
Investments Follow Strong Demand
Global paint and coatings companies continue to make direct investments in Latin America, including acquisitions and new projects. Apart from seeking to serve the expanding market, global companies also are seeking to increase their local content production to meet requirements for domestic added value.
Architectural, automotive and industrial segments of the industry are all poised for growth. But the automotive segment, global in its planning, may be attracting the largest investments among end users of paints and coatings in the industry. Mexico is now the world’s fourth largest exporter of automobiles, shipping 2.1 million units last year. And Anfavea, Brazil’s auto industry trade association projects that production will increase from 3.3 million units in 2012 to 5.7 million by 2016.
One of the largest recent investments in the region is BASF’s $660 million Acrylic Complex at Camacari, in Bahia State, which is slated for operation by late 2014. The Camacari production will supplant some $200 million in Brazilian chemical imports, and add $100 million in exports, the company calculates. It could also lower the production cost of BASF’s leading Suvinil architectural paint line. “This is the first acrylic complex in Latin America with leading edge technology, and it reconfirms our confidence in Brazil,” said BASF board member Stefan Marcinowiski, in a May interview with Tribuna da Bahia. BASF reported $8.4 billion in group sales in Latin America during 2012.
Among other recent investments in the region, Evonik Industries, based in Essen, Germany, is planning a new precipitated silica plant in Brazil that will come on line next year to supply the paint and coatings industry among others, with an “investment level in the middle double-digit million-euro range.”
Emphasis on Building a Local Presence
Many paint and coatings manufacturers follow their clients into Latin America as an initial beach-head into the market, then form joint ventures with local partners, only to later buy them out. Valspar, for example, began serving John Deere in Latin America since 2007, and over the past decade has acquired 100 percent of joint ventures it had formed Brazil and Mexico.
Then two years ago, Valspar moved into acquisitions, purchasing Brazil’s Isocoat Tintas e Vernizes Ltda., based in Araçariguama, in São Paulo State, to further strengthen its Latin American sales of powder, liquid and electro-deposition coatings. “We are not yet in the architectural market in Brazil,” qualified Carlos Campos, the marketing director for the company, in São Bernardo do Campo, Sao Paulo State.
Marketing in Latin America also is increasing as brands struggle to rise with evolving consumer tastes. Not only are consumers seeking higher quality paints, but they are also helping to drive more global trends. “Peacock teals paired with pinks and corals are making a statement and are influenced by Latin America,” stated Marshalltown, Iowa-based Diamond Vogel’s ColorWatch Internet blog.
Regional Economic Expansion
The United Nation’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, based in Santiago, Chile, projects regional growth this year at 3.5 percent this year -- up from 3.0 percent in 2012 -- led in part by recovery in Argentina and Brazil. Among the fastest growing countries in the region are: “Paraguay (which) will lead growth in 2013, with an expected rise in gross domestic product of 10.0 percent, followed by Panama at 8.0 percent, Peru at 6.0 percent and Haiti at 6.0 percent.”
Indeed, this growth will continue: The International Monetary Fund predicts that the region will average growth of 4.0 percent through 2015, compared with 2.7 percent in the United States and 2.1 percent in the European Union.
Such relatively strong regional growth has led to an expansion of the middle class with a corresponding expansion in consumer consumption. Over the past decade over 50 million people have migrated into the region’s middle class, which has had a long fight against poverty.
Among optimistic crystal ball gazers, one suggests that by 2020, “Latin America will have a combined GDP of $10.7 trillion, equivalent to 9 percent of the global GDP, and double that of 2010,” reckoned Guillaume Corpart, the managing director of Americas Market Intelligence, based in Coral Gables, Florida. His future scenario also suggests that “private consumption per head will reach $11,143, compared to $6,360 in 2012.” Finally, Corpart predicts that, “by 2020, Latin America will represent 10 percent of the global population and a total market of 640 million consumers.”
This growth of the middle class in Latin America should help boost per capita paint consumption, which is up to about seven liters in Brazil, compared with double that in the United States.
Among limits to growth in the region is inflation, which is expected to drop this year to six percent from 5.6 percent in 2012, down from 6.8 percent in 2011. However, some countries, like Venezuela, still are working to bring down very high inflation rates; inflation last year was 19.5 percent, down from 29 percent in 2011.
Thus far, Latin America only consumes about seven kilograms of paint and coatings on a per capita basis, so there is substantial room to grow before consumption hits U.S. levels of roughly twice the volume.
S-W’s Knight suggests that in the region, architectural paint represents 61 percent of total sales of $9.2 billion, followed by product finishes with 15 percent, protective and marine coatings 14 percent, and automotive 10 percent of total sales.
The build out of company-owned retail stores and dedicated dealers is key to expansion in the architectural segment. Sherwin-Williams plans to expand its universe of 801 company stores and dedicated dealers to 1040 by 2016, according to Knight.
Increased purchasing power is strongly affected by access to credit. While Mexican consumers are still recovering from a U.S.-inspired economic slowdown, credit is expanding rapidly. “Consumer credit continues to expand at a robust pace, by 20 percent (in nominal terms) in 2012 and early 2013,” observed Standard & Poor’s analyst Lisa M. Schineller, in New York, in an April report on Mexico. And in Brazil, new credit growth to households is growing by about 13 percent, according to S&P.
Brazil Leads the Latin Market
Brazil’s massive $2.5 trillion economy is expected to grow by 3.0 percent this year, compared to less than one percent in 2012.
Other new investments in Brazil’s paint and coatings market include a new technical center for Munich-based Wacker Chemie AG, in Sao Paulo. The center will serve South America in applications of the company’s silicone and polymer products used in the architectural segment of the paint industry. Similarly, Metalgrafica Trivisan S.A. is investing an estimated $25 million, including $9 million worth of German technology, to double its annual metal can production capacity to 900 tons per year at São José dos Pinhais, Parana state.
“The growth of the oil and gas in Brazil, public and private investments in the energy and power industry with new technologies such as the renewable energy generated by wind mills also represent an opportunity for our marine and protective coatings business based in Rio de Janeiro,” said Jaap de Jong, the regional director of Latin America and the Brazil country director, based in Sao Paulo for AkzoNobel.
“In Brazil in particular we are seeing that the building and infrastructure segment will be one of the drivers for growth – considering all projects that are under planning or execution such as the stadiums and buildings for the World Cup and the Olympics. We expect to grow around five to 10 percent during the next years,” added de Jong.
Acquisitions in Brazil are expected to rise, according to Abrafati, the national paint manufacturers association, in Sao Paulo. One year ago, RPM International, based in Medina, Ohio, purchased diversified paint and coatings maker Viapol Ltda. based in Cacapava, Sao Paulo State. At the time of the acquisition, RPM CEO Frank Sullivan, said, “The acquisition of Viapol establishes a substantial footprint for RPM and our many industrial and consumer businesses in the exciting Brazilian market, which is the largest economy in South America, and now the sixth largest economy in the world.” Viapol reported $85 million in annual revenues prior to the purchase.
Among other recent acquisitions, powder coatings specialist WEG Tintas Brazil, based in Jaraguá do Sul, in Santa Catarina State, last year purchased Stardur Tintas Especiales, an automotive coatings manufacturer based in Indaiatuba, State of São Paulo. Stardur revenues amounted to about $38 million in 2011.
Marketing in Brazil is competitive and intense. Beyond media commercials, several major paint companies have adopted colonial towns or urban slums in Rio de Janeiro and elsewhere to show their colors. Sports advertising also is broad, but has recently picked up pace as the clock counts down to Brazil’s hosting of the World Cup in Soccer in 2014. In anticipation of the event paint companies are vying for stadium refurbishment deals, like AkzoNobel, which will repaint part of the Maracana stadium, in Rio.
“Today, for example, of total revenue in the decorative paints business in Brazil, between 30 percent and 40 percent are from the high-tech products,” said Jaap Kuiper, the president of AkzoNobel’s decorative paints business unit in Latin America, based in Sao Paulo.
Environmental sensitivity is strong in Brazil, and paint and coatings manufacturers are focusing on zero VOC products for that market. Renner Sayerlack, based in Cajamar, Sao Paulo State, for example, recently launched its Linha Verde, or Green Line, brand, which features a logo adorned with a large green leaf labeled “ecological.”
Among other green affiliations, Universo Tintas, based in Diadema, Sao Paulo State, recently joined Brazil’s Green Building Council, which promotes sustainable practices in construction. Universo Tintas recently launched a high concentration acrylic paint line for residential consumers.
Mexico Linked to U.S. Volatility
Mexico’s $1.2 trillion economy was the most affected in Latin America by the U.S. recession. Nonetheless, Mexico’s economy also will match the regional growth projection this year, at 3.5 percent, slowing from 3.9 percent last year. Manufacturing in Mexico is reported to be rising faster than the national GDP, notes Schineller. However, construction slowed during the first few months of the year, with February statistics showing a 2.9 percent drop in activity, according to the national statistics agency INEGI.
The largest recent acquisition in Mexico -- and the most important in the region of late -- was Sherwin-Williams $2.3 billion purchase of Comex, Mexico’s largest paint company. The deal added about $1.2 billion in annual sales by Comex, along with its 3,300 points of sale in the country. The deal made S-W the leading paint company in North America.
Among other recent acquisitions, Mexichem, based in Mexico City, purchased PolyOne’s specialty vinyl dispersion, blending and suspension resin facilities in Avon Lake. Ohio, for $250 million. Permission for the deal from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission was secured in May.
Another larger joint venture was announced by Mexichem in January, a $550 million investment project with national oil company Pemex, to produce 24,000 metric tons of vinyl chloride in its first year of operation. Vinyl chloride is used as a binder in specialty paints, among other uses.
Argentine Economic Recovery Promising
Argentina’s estimated $450 billion economy is expected to grow at 3.5 percent this year, compared with 1.9 percent in 2012. However inflation of at least 10 percent limits real expansion of paint and coating consumption.
Mergers and acquisitions continue in Argentina, where WEG Tintas purchased powder coatings maker Pulverlux S.A. two years ago, adding some $7 million in revenue to its bottom line from sales to the automotive and white goods segments.
Among recent marketing campaigns in Argentina, Sinteplast in May donated paint for the refurbishment of the Ronald McDonald House in Buenos Aires. Sinteplast also was a founding member of the Caminhando Juntos or “Walking Together” foundation, an undertaking of the United Way.
Colombia Grows on Andean Trade
Colombia’s $330 billion economy is pegged to grow at 4.5 percent this year, ahead of the region, up slightly from 4.0 percent last year, according to ECLAC forecasts. Colombia plays a key role in the Andes sub-region of Latin America. PPG, for example, established a new Andean base in Medellin for its industrial coatings business two years ago, to serve the area, “with emphasis on Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.”
Among new investments in the industry, Grupo Mundial announced plans to invest $25 million in re-tooling its Colombian coatings factories. Mundial’s Compania Global de Pinturas, or Pintuco, paint unit bought H.B. Fuller’s paint business in Central America for $120 million.
As a conglomerate, Mundial reported a double-digit increase in profits last year on sales of $1 billion. Its Pintuco unit reported a nine percent volume increase last year, coupled with an eight percent export expansion.
Acquisitions in Colombia include PPG’s 2012 purchase of the coatings businesses of Colpisa Colombiana de Pinturas, based in Itagüí, Colombia, and its affiliates, including Colpisa Ecuador. Colpisa has been a PPG automotive coatings licensee since 1996.