The performance of the Metal Forming Division in the second quarter of the current business year continued its development as in the preceding quarters, apart from some impact due to the customary seasonal effects over the summer. The fact that earnings trended up compared to the same period in the previous year despite the challenging economic environment is the result not only of the division’s specialization in technological niche products but also to the consistently implemented measures to improve performance.
The Automotive Body Parts business segment is enjoying stable demand at a solid level in Europe. While the premium automobile manufacturers benefited from a positive trend due to booming exports, the mass market automobile manufacturers displayed some stabilizing tendencies in the second quarter of the business year 2013/14 for the first time in quite some time. The successful implementation and the currently ongoing worldwide proliferation of the “phs-ultraform” technology, an innovation that has set new standards in the segment of safety components, has made a substantial contribution to the very good performance of the Metal Forming Division in a European automotive market that is still quite mixed.
Some parts of the Tubes and Sections business segment, such as the construction industry, have continued to suffer from stagnant demand in Europe, however, a positive underlying trend has manifested itself in the construction and agricultural machinery segments. The truck industry in Europe has also made recent gains. The performance of the aerospace business segment is continuing unabated at a high level.
Viewed regionally, overall Europe still remains an economically challenging market environment. Most recently, the markets in North America are showing a lateral movement, although at a solid level. In the first half of 2013/14, apart from some weaknesses in the oil and natural gas segments, Brazil has demonstrated a satisfactory development due to more than adequate domestic demand, which is not least the result of investments undertaken in Brazil by international customers, for instance, in the agricultural machinery and bus industries.
After a brief phase of decline at the beginning of the business year, the performance of the Precision Strip business segment stabilized in the second quarter of 2013/14, although the competitive situation has remained challenging. Particularly Asian competitors are making competition more aggressive on the international markets, in part triggered by the exchange rate policy newly implemented by the Bank of Japan.
For the Material Handling business segment, the first half of the business year 2013/14 was positive both with regard to capacity utilization and the order situation.