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General Cable optimistic about 2013

Keywords: Tags  General Cable, copper, aluminum, Brian Robinson, Greg Kenny, Alcan Cable, Alcan Cable North America, Alcan Cable China Europe

CHICAGO — General Cable views its prospects as bright following a year in which it made five major acquisitions.

The 169-year-old company, which once supplied Samuel Morse, is today at the leading edge of fabricating the material that accelerates data communication, signals factory machinery and feeds global energy grids, executives reported during their March 26 investor day.

General Cable’s total 2013 volume will range from 1.4 billion to 1.5 billion pounds, with about half of that copper and half aluminum, chief financial officer Brian J. Robinson estimated.

He noted that about 350 million to 400 million pounds of that total will come from the company’s five 2012 acquisitions, including Alcan Cable North America and Alcan Cable China (, Dec. 4).

Wire and cable represent about 65 percent of the world’s demand for copper, president and chief executive officer Gregory B. Kenny said, noting healthy demand from Latin America, Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. “Emerging economies are a big part of our story,” Kenny said.

But General Cable also has decades-long customer relationships in the United States, and the company expects business there to pick up.

“The biggest driver for us is construction (building wire), and we see the construction cycle begin(ing) to kick back in again, led by North America,” he said.

General Cable has diversified its applications and customer base substantially over the past dozen years. Sample products allow high-speed networking, actuating a robotic welder on a factory floor or broadcasting the Super Bowl. “We’re in all those places,” Kenny said.

He also noted that cars today use three to four times more cable than they once did. Cable is “in about every part of the economy,” he said. Industries served by the company include construction, infrastructure, fiber optics, mining, nuclear, energy, transportation and medical, among others.

Looking ahead, Kenny believes that Europe will likely fare worse this year than last, but he noted that the company “think(s) it is bottoming.”

North America is a different story. “North America, even without a construction recovery, without a big utility spend except on transmission, has been a star,” he said. The company expects the Americas to generate about $4.5 billion in 2013, Kenny said.

In addition, Kenny expects “a terrific return on investment” from Alcan Cable. “Alcan’s team knows a great deal about aluminum melting and forming, really elevating our whole game,” he said.

Highland Heights, Ky.-based General Cable operates 57 factories employing 14,000 people in 26 countries and sells into at least 100 nations, Kenny said. Its annual sales run to about $7 billion.

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