In the first quarter of the business year 2013/14, the Metal Forming Division seamlessly continued its performance in the immediately preceding quarter. Despite the economically challenging market environment, it was able to continue its stable development at the operational level; the cost-cutting and efficiency improvement programs, which were initiated as a reaction to the generally subdued market situation, are already showing positive effects on the operating result.
The development of the markets serviced by the Tubes and Sections business segment was regionally differentiated, but they remained at a adequate level overall. Particularly in Europe, the situation with regard to incoming orders has been showing increased volatility because, to an ever greater extent, customers are making their buying decisions on a short-term basis, although the development of the basic trends in the individual market segments has not been showing any noticeable changes since the beginning of the calendar year. The entire construction industry sector, including the construction machinery sector, has remained unchanged at a weak level.
The trends in the commercial vehicle and bus industries in Europe continue to be varied. While the order situation has been quite good for export-oriented manufacturers as it has been driven by markets outside of Europe, those manufacturers who are focused on the European markets have faced continuing subdued demand. Demand in the aviation industry in the first quarter of the business year 2013/14 also remained at the same high level as in the past quarters.
Performance in the Automotive Body Parts segment developed at a stable level during the first quarter of the business year due to its long-term order structure; capacity utilization was at a solid level throughout the entire quarter. The export-driven order situation of the premium automobile manufacturers in Europe ensured a solid level of demand in a market environment marked by severely reduced registration figures in the European markets.
In the Precision Strip business segment, the first quarter of the business year 2013/14 was characterized by a slight weakening of the market due to new manufacturing capacities in Asia and declining demand due to political instability in North Africa.
For the Material Handling business segment, the first quarter of the new business year was positive both with regard to capacity utilization and the order situation.
Viewed regionally, the development in Europe continued to be difficult, with the momentum of demand generally cooling and some markets showing a high level of volatility with regard to the volume of incoming orders. Apart from seasonal effects in the agricultural machinery segment and the end of several projects in the solar segment, the North American market remained at a good level. Despite a roll-back of the growth forecasts for the markets relevant for the Metal Forming Division, the development of the business situation in Brazil remained stable.