This report is a translation of the original report in German, which is solely valid.
Economic sentiment was positive throughout the first quarter of the business year 2021/22. COVID-19 infection rates have declined not least thanks to the progress in vaccinations. This has allowed key economic regions to take yet more steps toward a reopening, in turn stimulating both consumption and employment especially in the service sector.
Numerous member states of the European Union have loosened their COVID-19 restrictions. In particular, both consumer spending and the service industry have benefited from these measures, and the dynamic development in industrial sectors has continued apace. The shortages of pre-materials in the supply chains prevented stronger growth rates in certain industrial segments such as the automotive industry. During the reporting period, the latter was confronted especially with a lack of semiconductors and thus was unable to benefit fully from the momentum in production.
Given these parameters, the voestalpine Group continued along the positive upward trajectory that had already begun in the previous business year. With the exception of the aerospace industry, which has merely stabilized, almost all market and product segments have seen good growth.
In North America, the strong upturn at the end of the previous business year continued unabated in the first quarter of the business year 2021/22. The advantageous trend in the labor market has fueled strong consumer spending. The previously announced, historic economic stimulus programs (some of which have already been enacted) are having an additional positive impact on economic sentiment.
The voestalpine Group succeeded in benefiting from the positive market momentum in North America. At the same time, however, those of voestalpine’s European production facilities that serve in particular the North American oil and natural gas markets are still feeling the adverse effects of the protectionist Section 232 tariffs, which remain in place.
Brazil, the most important economic region for voestalpine on the South American continent, maintained its economic momentum overall. The first quarter of the business year 2021/22 saw a rebound in industrial activity following yet another massive wave of COVID-19 infections at the end of the previous business year that forced a range of industries to curtail production activity.
The most recent wave of infections had a relatively moderate effect on the voestalpine Group’s Brazilian facilities which, as a result, were in a position to return to the previous quarter’s positive dynamic.
China had largely overcome the negative consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic as early as in calendar year 2020. New COVID-19 infections did not arise until the end of the previous business year and the start of the company’s current business year. While the authorities reacted by imposing locally limited, yet very strict lockdown measures, just as during the initial outbreak, this did not have any palpable negative effects on the country’s economic growth. On the whole, China’s central institutions are working to prevent the economy from overheating in the wake of the previous year’s massive stimulus packages. Hence particular growth parameters are relatively moderate. In sum, the country’s economic trajectory had a highly positive effect on the voestalpine Group’s Chinese facilities in the first quarter of the business year 2021/22 also.