An oversupply of rubber gloves is unlikely in 2010 but could be a worry in 2011 when more capacity comes onstream. Assuming that the 150 billion-a-year medical glove market grows by 8% a year, an additional capacity of 12 billion gloves will be required per year. Rubber glove companies have been able to pass on higher costs arising from rising latex prices, with Top Glove increasing prices again in January 2010.
Nevertheless, producers of nitrile gloves may now enjoy better margins as the cost advantage that latex gloves enjoy over nitrile gloves may have narrowed as latex prices have risen faster than nitrile prices. Ratings of Malaysian rubber glove companies are still cheaper than those of Ansell, SSL International and the Malaysian market.
By Choong Khuat Hock
The whole glove industry is growing. Due to capacity expansion and their smaller sizes, the smaller glove companies are expected to show faster earnings growth than the bigger glove companies.
The industry business is still resilient. Profit margin is either maintained or improving. Glove companies are still able to pass the cost to the customers. How long will this last?
This industry is highly competitive. The business is driven by volume and price. When capacity to supply outstrips demand, those companies with durable competitive advantage are expected to survive. Those low cost producers will be the big winners and leaders. Those companies that automate their production with good quality control will probably be able to lower their costs per unit through increasing productivity. It is possible that those leveraging on low human labour costs now with no or few plans for increasing automation of the manufacturing processes, may eventually lose out to the former in the future both in terms of quality, productivity and costs.