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Aero sector issues temper titanium outlook: analysts

Keywords: Tags  titanium, market outlook, analysts, Davenport & Co. LLC, Boeing 787, Airbus SAS 750, Precision Castparts, Wyman Gordon Lloyd T. O'Carroll

LOS ANGELES — The continuing impact of forging press outages in 2012, as well as an ongoing inventory selloff at aerospace giant Boeing Co., has prompted analysts to temper their titanium outlook over the next five years.

"We are incrementally less bullish on the outlook for aircraft demand of titanium in ’13 and through ’17, despite a higher aircraft delivery forecast," analysts Lloyd T. O’Carroll and John F. Ockerman of Davenport & Co. LLC said in a note to investors.

The two analysts expect titanium demand in commercial aircraft to grow to 109.6 million pounds this year and reach 123.3 million pounds in 2014 and 157.5 million pounds in 2017.

While Richmond, Va.-based Davenport has slightly raised its 2013 estimate for commercial aircraft deliveries to 1,450—up from their projection of 1,435 made earlier this year—two near-term issues "have dampened our outlook" for titanium, the analysts said.

The first of these is the lingering effect of 2012 press outages at the industry’s largest producer of titanium forgings, Precision Castparts Corp. (PCC), along with unrelated destocking in the engine supply chain. The second issue is Chicago-based Boeing’s destocking of its airframe titanium inventory, which they expect to continue into 2014.

In October, Portland, Ore.-based PCC said maintenance issues at three key forging presses at its Wyman-Gordon unit along with a fire at the main ring-rolling press at its Carlton Forge Works created "significant headwinds" for the parent company (, Oct. 25).

O’Carroll and Ockerman said these outages caused a delay of "several months’ worth of production" last year, and that extended backlogs at the end of 2012 will affect shipments this year. PCC said last year that while it didn’t lose business due to the press problems, it was "accelerating our forging throughput to compensate for the downtime."

Moreover, O’Carroll and Ockerman said "ongoing delays" in manufacturing for both Boeing’s 787 and Airbus SAS’ A350 airliners—which they predict will account for all of the increase in titanium usage from 2012 to 2017—remain a "key risk."

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