CHICAGO The outlook among
companies that stamp, form and fabricate metals products held
fairly steady in May compared with April, even though some have
experienced uneven order rates and shipments this year.
The proportion of respondents
who believe economic trends will improve over the next three
months dropped 5 percentage points, according to the latest
survey results from the Rocky River, Ohio-based Precision
Metalforming Association (PMA). More members viewed the trend
as flat (63 percent in May vs. 56 percent in April).
The proportion of metalformers
predicting an increase in incoming orders over the next 90 days
fell 3 percentage points year on year, while the number of
those predicting a drop in orders fell 2 percentage points.
"Our orders in May are down
considerably, like 40 percent from a year ago, and shipments
are off by almost as much," an East Coast stamper of
copper-based electrical parts said.
However, April orders held
steady year on year, and March orders rose 40 percent in the
same comparison, this stamper said. "Its literally up and
down, feast and famine," she said. "Last week we had no new
(requests for quotes), and this week we have five," she
A New England stamping and
machine shop operator agreed that there is a see-saw effect in
the market. "What we are doingand we hear the same from
othersis a lot of quoting activity, but nobody is making
investments for new stuff. We have our regular work coming in,
but other programs are herky-jerky," he said.
Uncertainty rules the day, he
said, noting that his company is keeping inventories level
while also reducing items where possible.
Current average daily shipments
did improve for the PMA members surveyed, with the proportion
of companies seeing shipments decline from three months ago
falling by 4 percentage points as the proportion reporting an
increase in shipments rose 7 percentage points.
The situation has prompted PMA
members to be more proactive and creative. At the East Coast
stamper, employees have been notified they might be placed on
shorter work weeks during the summer. At the same time, the
company is applying for patents on four new products, for which
it hopes to build sales.