CHICAGO The Precision
Metalforming Associations latest survey shows very slight
movements in sentiment this month vs. October, but members who
spoke with AMM were slightly more upbeat than the
numbers might suggest.
Nearly one-fifth of members
surveyed expect economic activity to improve over the next
three months, up from 15 percent in October, but those
forecasting a downward shift increased to 36 percent from 30
One quarter of respondents said
shipments this month are above those of three months ago, a
slight uptick, and those who are seeing lower shipments
narrowed to 38 percent from 45 percent in October. Expectations
for incoming orders were little changed.
"Customers told our salespeople
they werent making decisions until after the election,
and then we got some good-sized orders. We dont know if
they would have been larger with a different administration,
but now our order rates are the usual up-and-down,
up-and-down," a source at an East Coast electronic parts
stamper said. On the raw material side, "we are buying
cautiously. Is this the first order of more, or not?"
Some customers projected a 2013
increase in finished goods sales of as much as 10 percent, she
said, but that would only bring them back to 2010 levels.
"The fourth quarter will be OK,
but the first quarter is not going to be so good," a source at
a Northeast metalformer told AMM. "The fiscal cliff
and tax rate issues are coming up. We do quite a bit of defense
work, so our guess is this will all be negative. We just
dont know how much and how soon."
In terms of sourcing, "we
arent making a whole lot of purchases. We let customers
know what material we have on hand, the lead times for mill
material and our processing time," he said.
A parts maker in the Great
Plains region said October shaped up better than expected. "A
number of my aerospace customers are placing orders now for
next year, so incoming orders have been pretty decent," he
said. Commercial jet engine builders have projected a 6- to
8-percent increase in volume next year, and some have "a full
order book for several years to come."
Despite the uptick, "our
purchasing strategy hasnt changed," he said. "We are not
bullish about buying raw material, and are buying only what we