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Titanium data pool shrinks as ATI curbs details

Keywords: Tags  titanium, ATI, Allegheny Technologies, Allvac, specialty metals, Titanium Metals, Timet, Precision Castparts PCC

LOS ANGELES — Mining for U.S. shipment and pricing figures for titanium is becoming increasingly difficult as the pool of data reported by producers shrinks.

Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI) sold 10.3 million pounds of titanium in the first quarter, it said this past week. But other, more detailed, figures that the company had reported for years were missing, and a spokesman for the Pittsburgh-based specialty metals producer indicated that that data—including shipping volumes and average prices of titanium mill products, along with those for nickel-based material and zirconium produced by ATI’s High Performance Metals group—won’t be disclosed in the future.

One of the chief contributors to the business segment is ATI’s Allvac Inc. unit in Monroe, N.C., a major U.S. producer of aerospace alloy titanium and nickel-based long products. The other main component of ATI’s titanium business (separate from High Performance Metals) is flat-rolled products, mainly non-aerospace, commercially pure titanium produced by Uniti LLC, a Moon Township, Pa.-based joint venture with Russian producer VSMPO-Avisma Corp.

ATI did report that overall sales of titanium products rose nearly 22 percent in the first quarter vs. the last three months of 2012, and represented 16 percent of ATI’s quarterly corporate sales of $1.2 billion. Titanium shipments in the first quarter of 2012 totaled a little over 10 million pounds (, May 1).

It is widely assumed among industry players that ATI’s decision to drop specific shipment and price data on High Performance Metals’ products was tied to Precision Castparts Corp.’s (PCC’s) $2.9-billion acquisition of Titanium Metals Corp. (Timet) late last year (, Nov. 9), with the expectation that Timet would no longer break out its titanium shipment and average product prices or the previously reported data for melted products.

A PCC spokesman confirmed industry expectations that Timet’s shipments and average sale prices won’t be disclosed in the parent company’s upcoming release of results for the quarter ended March 31. Timet has been folded into PCC’s forged products business segment, he said, and noted that PCC’s Special Metals Corp. unit, a major producer of nickel-based and other alloys, also doesn’t break out its results.

Outsiders had speculated that ATI would be reluctant to disclose data withheld by what is regarded in the industry as its main competitor, but the ATI spokesman said a change in reporting had been under consideration for most of last year and had "absolutely nothing" to do with the Timet acquisition. It was instead related to ATI’s $778-million acquisition in 2011 of castings and forgings producer Ladish Co. (, May 10, 2011), he said.

"Now that we’re integrated with Ladish, it doesn’t represent our business anymore," the ATI spokesman said about High Performance Metals’ shipment and price data.

Some investors and securities analysts were making "very bad decisions" by attempting to "back into" Ladish’s results with the High Performance Metals data, resulting in "incorrect conclusions" about the Cudahy, Wis., unit’s performance, he added.

ATI’s decision to drop High Performance Metals’ shipments and prices leaves only one major U.S. titanium producer disclosing this data: RTI International Metals Inc. An RTI spokesman in Pittsburgh said he wasn’t aware of any plans to change its long-time policy of reporting mill product shipments and average prices.

However, for outsiders it means that the main authority on domestic titanium shipments going forward will be the U.S. Geological Survey. But industry sources noted that the USGS titanium figures often appear as long as three months after the end of a quarter.

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