Sustained by the railway infrastructure, oil and natural gas exploration, and automotive supply customer segments, the economic situation of the Metal Engineering Division in the first nine months of the business year 2013/14 continued to be robust. The business development of the Rail Technology segment remained stable at a high level despite continuing restrained investment activity by the European railway operators. This is primarily due to a number of attractive projects outside of Europe where it was possible to position the division’s sophisticated rail program very successfully. Due to the closure of the standard rail production at the Duisburg/Germany site in the fourth calendar quarter of 2013, which had become an economic necessity, this business segment will be oriented almost exclusively toward the premium segment in the future.
Demand in the Turnout Technology business segment during the first nine months of 2013/14 was also stable at a positive level, especially in North and South America and South Africa. The investments undertaken in past years in Saudi Arabia and Turkey have been launched successfully and are already making a contribution to improved earnings. A sustainably high potential for growth in the railway infrastructure sector is expected not only in the Middle East and in Turkey, but also in Asia, primarily Southeast Asia and China.
Due not least to the improved general mood in the European automobile industry, the Wire business segment has maintained its solid performance, and this is not expected to change in the coming months. The Seamless Tube business segment experienced demand that was excellent overall, driven by dynamic exploration activity in the traditional oil and natural gas production regions of North America and the Middle East.
The Welding Consumables business segment performed quite satisfactorily, although its market environment is somewhat weaker than the other business segments of the Metal Engineering Division. This is due on one hand to the level of demand that continues to be restrained, in particular with regard to power plant projects in Europe and, on the other, by increased negative impact on the competitive situation as a result of changes in monetary parities. The segment’s performance in the USA was significantly more positive, driven by oil and natural gas production.