From today’s perspective, the construction and construction supply industries will remain problematic sectors for quite some time—not only in Southern and Eastern Europe. The European automobile industry will be able to at least partially compensate for the continuing weak markets in Europe only by expanding their presence on the international markets. And as far as the landscape for projects in the area of oil and natural gas is concerned, the recovery that had been anticipated for a long time has not materialized, nor will it in the immediate future (although there has been some movement during the last weeks).
Demand in the consumer goods and white goods sectors continues to be solid, whereas the mechanical engineering sector has been weaker recently, and it will not be clear until after the summer months whether this is only temporary or whether this soft patch will be more prolonged. Demand from the aerospace industry and the (non-European) railway sector remains stable.
All in all, the development of the last months confirms the conclusion expressed in the outlook for the entire year that, at minimum, the economic downward trend that had prevailed up to the early part of 2013 has been broken.
From the current point of view, the next few months could see a further stabilization of the global economic situation, provided that, this time, the recovery in the USA proves truly sustainable, China does not suffer any new economic reversals, and the current first faint signs of optimism now visible in Europe do not turn out to be an illusion. If this is indeed the case, it might be possible that, in the second half of 2013, those preconditions will be created that will make the first global economic recovery in years possible in 2014.
The performance of the voestalpine Group up to the end of 2013 is expected to be stable overall, with the exception of some moderate seasonal effects. For the next months, it is anticipated that
- the Steel Division will enjoy absolutely complete capacity utilization, with prices trending upward,
- the Special Steel Division will have almost full capacity utilization, with prices at a stable level,
- the Metal Engineering Division will see absolutely complete capacity utilization, with prices at a consistently solid level, and
- the Metal Forming Division will see largely full capacity utilization at stable prices
There are, of course, uncertainties with regard to the general situation because the trend for raw materials prices is very difficult to gauge. However, continuing overcapacity in the mining sector and still cautious order patterns on the part of customers should enable a calculable development of prices.
Against this backdrop—especially considering the continuing uncertainty regarding a positive economic trend reversal in the coming year—it appears that a repetition of the previous year’s results (EBITDA, EBIT) is the most probable scenario for the voestalpine Group in 2013/14 and that these results are somewhat more certain today than they had been at the beginning of the business year.