Analysis of the Lithuanian construction sector
Financial and performance indicators in the construction sector reveal positive rather than negative trends. The boom in real estate emerging in the time of the pandemic has remarkably boosted the sectoral activity (during the first 6 months of this year alone the volume of constructions works grew by almost one fifth) and positively reflected in performance indicators of most of the companies. Sectoral earnings have been rapidly growing both on the domestic and foreign markets. After discounting the impact of seasonality and working days abroad, the volume of construction works is an increase of 21.5% year-on-year. The number of construction companies have been mushrooming, accounting for an increase by a third during the second quarter of this year compared to the previous year.
Financial statements filed by construction companies show that the number of construction companies in Lithuania in 2021 has grown by additional 531 from 15,784 to 16,316 (an increase of 3.4%) year-on-year. A very similar pace of growth (4.1%) was observed in the average corporate earnings (from EUR 809,994 to EUR 842,872). In terms of the staffing level, though, it has decreased slightly from 102,072 to 101,833. Despite a favorable situation, managers of construction companies are very cautious about the growth in the number of staff due to higher labour and other construction costs. Due to a more pessimistic mood in the sector, during summer this indicator started to decrease.
Another important positive factor is the decreasing number of debts and their aggregate values. For instance, during pre-pandemic August 2019 the number of corporate debts in construction industry stood at 12,336, with their aggregate value of EUR 128.7 mln. At the same period in 2020 the number of corporate debts stood at 11,539 compared against a reduced value of debt of EUR 94.3 mln. Although at the end of last August the number of corporate debts in the construction industry grew once again to 12,055, the aggregate debt value accounts for EUR 96.6 mln.
Some positive trends may be seen in the solvency of the construction industry. For instance, a year ago 23% of companies in this sector belonged to the high or highest group of bankruptcy risk, whereas this year the number of such companies dropped to 20%. In terms of delayed payments, some improvement may be observed too: last year the number of companies within the group of high and highest risk of delayed payments accounted for 47%, compared against 37% this year.
A number of construction companies going bankrupt has been decreasing steadily. In 2017-2020 the number of bankruptcies dropped from 366 to 163, whereas the updated statistics for this year give a solid ground to expect a further similar decrease in the number of reported bankruptcies.
Despite the reported drop in earnings in 2020 from 10% to 4% in comparison to 2019, other performance indicators in the construction industry have improved. For instance, the corporate sales median increased by 16% (from EUR 143,155 to EUR 166,133), the quick ratio has grown from 1.86 to 1.95, while the profit margin before tax increased from 1.25 to 1.35. The equity ratio has improved from 43.83 to 46.23, the accounts payable turnover decreased from 134 days to 128 days, whereas the accounts receivable turnover shortened from 57 to 51 day. EBITDA grew from 9.1 to 12.3%.
Head of Business Development and Strategy, Creditinfo Lithuania