LOS ANGELES A price hike
on aerospace aluminum plate this year appears to have stuck and
the market could be in store for further tightening, service
center executives and sources said.
An increase in heat-treat
aluminum plate "should be indicative of a better market,"
Michael Goldberg, who until last week was president and chief
executive officer at A.M. Castle & Co., told analysts on a
recent conference call.
Goldberg said the first
successful price hike in aerospace aluminum in years was
"fairly well received in the marketplace," and said that the
consensus in the plate market was that business would continue
to improve throughout the year, with the market expected to
tighten further in 2013 and 2014.
The Oak Brook, Ill.-based
service center chains aerospace bookings posted a
13-percent rise in the first quarter vs. the fourth quarter of
2011, the company said.
Separately, Gregg J. Mollins,
president and chief operating officer of Reliance Steel &
Aluminum Co., said recently that the Los Angeles-based service
center sees aerospace sheet and plate as "extremely strong,
very tight," with lead times out 16 to 18 weeks. Speaking on a
quarterly conference call, Mollins estimated the price increase
at around 5 percent and said it "definitely will stick."
In some cases, according to
service center sources, the March increase came in the form of
a 5-percent reduction in the distributor discount on 2000- and
A 10-cent-per-pound hike earlier in the first quarter in
another heat-treat category, 6061 general engineering plate,
has also stuck, although the competitive situation is somewhat
different, sources said. Foreign 6061 material is reportedly
available from a variety of offshore sourcesincluding
South Africa, Austria and Romaniaat discounts of at least
10 percent, or in some cases, at less than $2 per pound for an
item that carries a list price from domestic mills of $2.35 to
$2.40 per pound, market sources said.