During the first three quarters of the business year 2012/13, the economic environment of the Metal Forming Division was marked by a level of demand that was increasingly strained in the major customer segments. Particularly in the second half of the 2012 calendar year, incoming orders remained below expectations.
In the third quarter of 2012/13, the Automotive Body Parts business segment saw lower production volumes due to seasonal effects (Christmas closures of customer plants) and furthermore, the market, particularly the market for premium class automobiles, deteriorated. In the volume segment, however, there was a stabilization at a low level during the past few months. In any case, the declining sales figures for the automobile industry in Europe that are being predicted for the next several years confirm the strategy of the Metal Forming Division to guide customers in their internationalization process in order to reduce dependence on the stagnating European market.
In the course of the business year 2012/13, the Tubes & Sections business segment faced a downward trend in the construction machinery segment, which was in part caused by seasonal fluctuations, while the agricultural machinery segment performed consistently at a positive level. A differentiated view is necessary when looking at the commercial vehicle industry. While manufacturers with a regional focus are suffering from the low level of investment in Europe, export-oriented companies are profiting from the higher rates of economic growth in the threshold countries. The focus of the Metal Forming Division toward export-oriented companies has contributed to an overall satisfactory performance in this industrial sector.
In the Precision Strip business segment, a differentiated picture emerges at the customer end. While demand from the capital goods sector has come under some pressure, sales figures for the consumer goods industry are stable at a positive level.
Satisfactory incoming orders in the Material Handling business segment resulted primarily from the consumer-oriented industries, where orders of high-bay storage systems by the food and beverage industries, the clothing industry, and the mail-order retail industry dominated.
From a regional perspective, demand from Europe was mostly quite moderate. This applies particularly to Southern Europe and most recently to France as well. Consumer behavior in England, on the other hand, was significantly more positive. Overseas, business development in North America is at quite a good level; the Brazilian market, however, was characterized by economic uncertainty.