NEW YORK Allied Tube & Conduit Corp.s performance has improved so far this year across its end markets serving the nonresidential construction sector, although the sectors overall recovery remains subdued, according to Steve Robins, vice president of strategic sourcing at parent company Atkore International Holdings Inc.
"While we forecast growth in the marketplace of around 2 percent, were doing slightly better," Robins said on the sidelines of the Steel Success Strategies XXVIII conference in New York sponsored by AMM and Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based World Steel Dynamics Inc.
However, "the pace of recovery is disappointing," he added. As a result, prices have come under pressure, although Allied Tube is running ahead of last years shipment levels.
"(The market) is very competitive," Robins said. "While our volume is up in tons sold, its again a very difficult time from a price standpoint."
But some positive leading indicators like residential construction might bode well for the nonresidential sector. "The barometers we use to measure non-res(idential) construction suggest that the market improvement is right around the corner. ... And yet every quarter we read those market barometers and they say the same thing,"
he said, adding that the Harvey, Ill.-based company believes flat-rolled steel prices have bottomed out, with little visibility on the upside.
"We think that after a sustained decay after the past eight months, we acknowledge that the steel industry has created a price floor through the last two price increase announcements," Robins said. "The follow(-up) to that is: Is it sustainable, and (for) how long? "
The recent flat-rolled price increases have led Allied Tube to hike prices for most of its products. "We are trying to make sure that we dont get behind from a cost-price standpoint on any of those products," he said.
Allied Tube serves the mechanical, electrical, sprinkler and fence markets. "We are the leader in almost all of those," Robins said.