Announcements Corporate Rating Alerts

GCR affirms Ardova Plc’s national scale ratings of A-(NG)/ A2(NG) due to its strong market position, Stable Outlook.

Lagos, 06 July 2021 – GCR Ratings (“GCR”) has affirmed the national scale long and short term Issuer ratings of A-(NG) and A2(NG) respectively, assigned to Ardova Plc, with the Outlook accorded as Stable. Concurrently, the ratings assigned to the Series 1 Bonds have been affirmed at A-(NG), with a Stable Outlook.

Rated Entity / Issue Rating class Rating scale Rating Outlook / Watch
Ardova Plc Long Term Issuer National A-(NG) Stable
Short Term Issuer National A2(NG)
Series 1 Senior Unsecured Bonds Long Term Issue National A-(NG) Stable

Rating Rationale

The ratings of Ardova Plc (“Ardova” or “the Company”) reflects its strong competitive position in the Nigerian oil and gas downstream sector, solid earnings performance through the cycle and moderately strong credit protection metrics and capital structure. These are balanced against the inherently high liquidity requirements in the sector, and GCR’s concerns on the shareholding structure.

Ardova’s strong business profile is underpinned by its integration along the value chain. Thus, while the Company’s core operations consist of a network of over 450 retail outlets well spread across key cities in Nigeria, it benefits from backward integration through its parent, Prudent Energy and Services Limited (“Prudent” or “the Group”), which is able to import and store fuel, as well as managing the full logistics operation through in-house subsidiaries. The successful acquisition of Enyo Retail and Supply Limited (“Enyo”), with additional 93 retail outlets, should help capture stronger market share. Other key competitive advantages relate to the ongoing expansion of non-PMS product lines, including liquified petroleum gas, bitumen, and lubricants (through upgrade of lubes blending plant and exclusive distribution rights to Chevron and Shell lubes).

Although GCR has adopted a standalone credit analysis, we recognise Ardova’s position as an important component of the Group (48% and 44% of consolidated revenue and EBITDA respectively in FY20). Accordingly, a slight negative adjustment has been applied to group support to account for the perceived higher risks within the Group’s operations, compared to Ardova.

GCR takes cognisance of the well constituted Board of directors (separate from the parent) with credible strategic goals, an experienced senior management team, and the public listing status of Ardova, albeit the weaker governance structure at the ultimate group level does constrain the ratings somewhat. Positive adjustment to this assessment is dependent on demonstrable stronger governance structure at the group level.

The robust earnings growth has been supportive to the ratings, underpinned by the strong revenue progression in PMS (due to higher volumes and price increase), which accounted for around 80% of FY20 revenue. While the other product lines are expected to expand over the medium term, earnings concentration to PMS will remain. As PMS pricing is closely regulated, the profit margin is narrow, with little headroom to manage earnings variability. Accordingly, earnings margins have been reported slightly below the peer average of 3.3%, due to the lesser contribution from lubes (compared to Total Nigeria Plc and Eterna Plc). While GCR expects some marginal enhancement, underpinned by the anticipated growth in other product lines, this margin will likely remain below 5% over the rating horizon, in line with industry norm.

Leverage and capital structure are deemed neutral to the ratings primarily due to the reduction in gross debt from N34.8bn at FY17 to N9bn at FY20. This has supported the substantial improvement in net debt to EBITDA to around 1.24x in FY20 (period average 3.66x). Although debt is expected to more than double to around N20bn in FY21-22, GCR anticipates that the metric would remain at the 1.8x-2.2x range on the back of an increase in absolute EBITDA. This is offset against the historically low interest coverage, albeit expected to widen slightly to the intermediate range of 5.5x-7.5x over the rating horizon due to the supportive interest rate environment. Operating cash flow coverage of debt is expected to contract slightly (but remain moderate) due to working capital pressures. GCR takes cognisance of Ardova’s access to diverse funding sources and the low currency risks, but this weighs against the short maturity on all debt. The imminent bond issuance should help spread the maturity profile over the longer term.

The ratings are somewhat constrained by the liquidity assessment, with sources versus uses of cash calculated to register around 1.34x over the next 12 to 18 months. Liquidity is underpinned by cash holdings of around N2.4bn at FY20 and N6.8bn committed facilities, as well as anticipated strong cash flows. This will be augmented by the anticipated bond issue which will be utilised to settle the Enyo acquisition cost and other capex requirements.

Outlook Statement

The Stable Outlook reflects GCR’s expectation that sound earnings will be sustained over the rating horizon, which should cushion the impact of the anticipated increase in debt on leverage metrics. We also envisage that the intermediate liquidity assessment will continue to be supported by good operating cash flows and the Company’s strong relationships with lenders.

Rating Triggers

Positive rating action is only likely over the medium term, contingent upon achieving consistently stronger earnings and cash flows above the industry average. This should allow Ardova the resources to fund a larger portion of its operations internally, thus reducing reliance on debt.

The ratings could be downgraded if 1) there is material and sustained earnings shock which impacts on profitability and substantially impacts the debt service metrics 2) Ardova is unable to raise sufficient funding to meet short term maturities and capex commitments 3) liquidity coverage falls below 1.25x due to higher recourse to short term debt or cost overrun on expansion projects.

Analytical Contacts

Primary analyst Samuel Popoola Analyst
Lagos, Nigeria Samuel@GCRratings.com +234 1 904 9462
Committee chair Matthew Pirnie Group Head of Ratings
Johannesburg, ZA MatthewP@GCRratings.com +27 11 784 1771

Related Criteria and Research

Criteria for the GCR Ratings Framework, May 2019
Criteria for Rating Corporate Entities, May 2019
GCR Ratings Scales, Symbols & Definitions, May 2019
GCR Nigeria Country Risk Scores, February 2021
GCR Nigeria Corporate Sector Risk Scores, February 2021
Ardova Plc’s Rating Reports, 2016-20

Ratings History

Ardova Plc

Rating class Review Rating scale Rating Outlook Date
Long Term Issuer Initial National A-(NG) Stable June 2016
Short Term Issuer Initial National A1-(NG)
Long Term Issue Initial National A-(NG) Stable December 2016
Long Term Issuer Last National A-(NG) Stable December 2020
Short Term Issuer Last National A2(NG)
Long Term Issue Last National A-(NG) Stable December 2020

Risk Score Summary

Rating Components & Factors Risk scores
Operating environment 6.50
Country risk score 3.75
Sector risk score 2.75
Business profile 0.75
Competitive position 1.00
Management and governance (0.25)
Financial profile 0.00
Earnings performance 0.50
Leverage and Cash flow 0.00
Liquidity (0.50)
Comparative profile (0.25)
Group support (0.25)
Peer analysis 0.00
Total Score 7.00

Glossary

Cash Flow The inflow and outflow of cash and cash equivalents. Such flows arise from operating, investing and financing activities.
Cash Funds that can be readily spent or used to meet current obligations.
Debt An obligation to repay a sum of money. More specifically, it is funds passed from a creditor to a debtor in exchange for interest and a commitment to repay the principal in full on a specified date or over a specified period.
Diversification Spreading risk by constructing a portfolio that contains different exposures whose returns are relatively uncorrelated. The term also refers to companies which move into markets or products that bear little relation to ones they already operate in.
Exposure Exposure is the amount of risk the holder of an asset or security is faced with because of holding the security or asset. For a company, its exposure may relate to a product class or customer grouping. Exposure may also arise from an overreliance on one source of funding. In insurance, it refers to an individual or company’s vulnerability to various risks
Interest Cover Interest cover is a measure of a company’s interest payments relative to its profits. It is calculated by dividing a company’s operating profit by its interest payments for a given period.
Issuer The party indebted or the person making repayments for its borrowings.
Leverage Regarding corporate analysis, leverage (or gearing) refers to the extent to which a company is funded by debt.
Liquidity The speed at which assets can be converted to cash. It can also refer to the ability of a company to service its debt obligations due to the presence of liquid assets such as cash and its equivalents. Market liquidity refers to the ease with which a security can be bought or sold quickly and in large volumes without substantially affecting the market price.

Salient Points of Accorded Ratings

GCR affirms that a.) no part of the rating process was influenced by any other business activities of the credit rating agency; b.) the ratings were based solely on the merits of the rated entity, security or financial instrument being rated; and c.) such ratings were an independent evaluation of the risks and merits of the rated entity, security or financial instrument.

The credit rating has been disclosed to Ardova Plc. The rating above was solicited by, or on behalf of, the rated entity, and therefore, GCR has been compensated for the provision of the rating.

Ardova Plc participated in the rating process via telephonic management meetings, and other written correspondence. Furthermore, the quality of information received was considered adequate and has been independently verified where possible. The information received from Ardova Plc and other reliable third parties to accord the credit ratings included:

  • 2020 audited annual financial statement, and prior four years annual financial statements;
  • Unaudited management accounts for the period to 31 March 2021;
  • Internal and/or external management reports;
  • Industry comparative data and a breakdown of facilities available and related counterparties; and
  • Information specific to the rated entity and/or industry was also received.


ALL GCR CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS, TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS, TERMS OF USE AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK:HTTP://GCRRATINGS.COM. IN ADDITION, RATING SCALES AND DEFINITIONS ARE AVAILABLE ON GCR’S PUBLIC WEB SITE AT WWW.GCRRATINGS.COM/RATING_INFORMATION. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA, AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. GCR's CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, COMPLIANCE, AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE.

CREDIT RATINGS ISSUED AND RESEARCH PUBLICATIONS PUBLISHED BY GCR, ARE GCR’S OPINIONS, AS AT THE DATE OF ISSUE OR PUBLICATION THEREOF, OF THE RELATIVE FUTURE CREDIT RISK OF ENTITIES, CREDIT COMMITMENTS, OR DEBT OR DEBT-LIKE SECURITIES. GCR DEFINES CREDIT RISK AS THE RISK THAT AN ENTITY MAY NOT MEET ITS CONTRACTUAL AND/OR FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS AS THEY BECOME DUE. CREDIT RATINGS DO NOT ADDRESS ANY OTHER RISK, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO: FRAUD, MARKET LIQUIDITY RISK, MARKET VALUE RISK, OR PRICE VOLATILITY. CREDIT RATINGS AND GCR’S OPINIONS INCLUDED IN GCR’S PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT STATEMENTS OF CURRENT OR HISTORICAL FACT. CREDIT RATINGS AND GCR’S PUBLICATIONS DO NOT CONSTITUTE OR PROVIDE INVESTMENT OR FINANCIAL ADVICE, AND CREDIT RATINGS AND GCR’S PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT AND DO NOT PROVIDE RECOMMENDATIONS TO PURCHASE, SELL OR HOLD PARTICULAR SECURITIES. NEITHER GCR’S CREDIT RATINGS, NOR ITS PUBLICATIONS, COMMENT ON THE SUITABILITY OF AN INVESTMENT FOR ANY PARTICULAR INVESTOR. GCR ISSUES ITS CREDIT RATINGS AND PUBLISHES GCR’S PUBLICATIONS WITH THE EXPECTATION AND UNDERSTANDING THAT EACH INVESTOR WILL MAKE ITS OWN STUDY AND EVALUATION OF EACH SECURITY THAT IS UNDER CONSIDERATION FOR PURCHASE, HOLDING OR SALE.

Copyright © 2021 GCR INFORMATION PUBLISHED BY GCR MAY NOT BE COPIED OR OTHERWISE REPRODUCED OR DISCLOSED, IN WHOLE OR IN PART, IN ANY FORM OR MANNER OR BY ANY MEANS WHATSOEVER, BY ANY PERSON WITHOUT GCR’S PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT. Credit ratings are solicited by, or on behalf of, the issuer of the instrument in respect of which the rating is issued, and GCR is compensated for the provision of these ratings. Information sources used to prepare the ratings are set out in each credit rating report and/or rating notification and include the following: parties involved in the ratings and public information. All information used to prepare the ratings is obtained by GCR from sources reasonably believed by it to be accurate and reliable. Although GCR will at all times use its best efforts and practices to ensure that the information it relies on is accurate at the time, GCR does not provide any warranty in respect of, nor is it otherwise responsible for, the accurateness of such information.GCR adopts all reasonable measures to ensure that the information it uses in assigning a credit rating is of sufficient quality and that such information is obtained from sources that GCR, acting reasonably, considers to be reliable, including, when appropriate, independent third-party sources. However, GCR cannot in every instance independently verify or validate information received in the rating process. Under no circumstances shall GCR have any liability to any person or entity for (a) any loss or damage suffered by such person or entity caused by, resulting from, or relating to, any error made by GCR, whether negligently (including gross negligence) or otherwise, or other circumstance or contingency outside the control of GCR or any of its directors, officers, employees or agents in connection with the procurement, collection, compilation, analysis, interpretation, communication, publication or delivery of any such information, or (b) any direct, indirect, special, consequential, compensatory or incidental damages whatsoever (including without limitation, lost profits) suffered by such person or entity, as a result of the use of or inability to use any such information. The ratings, financial reporting analysis, projections, and other observations, if any, constituting part of the information contained in each credit rating report and/or rating notification are, and must be construed solely as, statements of opinion and not statements of fact or recommendations to purchase, sell or hold any securities. Each user of the information contained in each credit rating report and/or rating notification must make its own study and evaluation of each security it may consider purchasing, holding or selling. NO WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO THE ACCURACY, TIMELINESS, COMPLETENESS, MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR ANY PARTICULAR PURPOSE OF ANY SUCH RATING OR OTHER OPINION OR INFORMATION IS GIVEN OR MADE BY GCR IN ANY FORM OR MANNER WHATSOEVER.