According to the February 2008 Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report (www.pma.org), metalforming companies expect shipping levels to rebound from the significantly low levels reported in January. Conducted monthly, the report is an economic indicator for manufacturing, sampling 146 metalforming companies in the United States and Canada.
In February, 29 percent of participants reported that current average daily shipping levels are above levels of three months ago (up from only 13 percent in January), 46 percent reported no change (compared to 43 percent last month) and just 25 percent reported that shipping levels are below levels of three months ago (down from 44 percent in January).
When asked what the trend in general economic activity will be over the next three months, metalformers expect little change. Fifty-four percent of participants reported that activity will remain the same (up from 50 percent in January), 14 percent anticipate that conditions will improve (down from 20 percent last month) and 32 percent predict a decline in business conditions (up from 30 percent in January).
Metalforming companies also expect incoming orders to remain fairly steady over the next three months. Thirty-one percent of companies forecast an increase in orders (the same percentage reported in January), 39 percent anticipate no change (compared to 44 percent last month) and 30 percent expect a decrease in orders (up from 25 percent in January).
The number of metalforming companies with a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff increased to 16 percent in February from 14 percent in January.
“Business conditions reported by PMA members in February, while improved from early January, are decidedly less robust than they were one year ago,” William E. Gaskin, PMA president said. “Softness in automotive, construction, appliance and other markets has impacted our members significantly. Member companies also are being affected by substantial increases in the price of flat-rolled steel, which increases their operating costs. A growing number of reports of shortages of flat-rolled steel from service centers as well as full order books at the mills also are causing concern over availability of steel in the spring,” Gaskin added.
The monthly Business Conditions Report has been conducted by PMA since 1979. Full report results are available at (www. pma.org/about/stats/BCreport). PMA is the full-service trade association representing the $91-billion metalforming industry of North America—the industry that creates precision metal products using stamping, fabricating and other value-added processes. Its nearly 1200 member companies include metal stampers, fabricators, spinners, slide formers and roll formers as well as suppliers of equipment, materials and services to the industry. Members are located in 30 countries, with the majority found in North Americain 41 states of the United States as well as Canada and Mexico.