LOS ANGELES The U.S. titanium data pool took yet another hit this week as RTI International Metals Inc. stopped reporting prices, completing a process that has now spread to the three major domestic producers.
Pittsburgh-based RTI said its fourth-quarter 2013 titanium mill product shipments rose 5.1 percent to 3.9 million pounds from 3.7 million pounds a year earlier. This was essentially flat with the 4 million pounds shipped in the third quarter of 2013 (amm.com, Nov. 7).
But for the first time in years, RTI didnt report its average realized price for titanium mill products during the quarter, continuing a trend of domestic producers paring the amount of market information made public.
RTI has determined that "so much of our product now is moving into intercompany sales and is part of the integrated value stream" that it "really wasnt beneficial" as a business indicator to report this data, vice chairwoman, president and chief executive officer Dawne S. Hickton said during an earnings conference call when asked about the absence of prices.
Hickton also pointed out that the RTIs average price adjusts "periodically," depending on the product mix in a given quarter.
Nevertheless, RTIs decision marks another example of data on domestic titanium going off-stream since the acquisition of Titanium Metals Corp. (Timet) by Precision Castparts Corp. (PCC) in December 2012. Exton, Pa.-based Timets shipments and average prices, which were previously released on a quarterly basis for both melted and mill products, are no longer broken out. A PCC spokesman told AMM last year that the Portland, Ore-based company also doesnt disclose this data for its Special Metals Corp. unit, a major producer of nickel-based and other alloys (amm.com, April 26).
Moreover, Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI) has also eliminated some titanium market details it had disclosed for years. While ATI continues to report its overall titanium shipments, it stopped breaking out both shipments and average realized prices for its High Performance Metals segment, which includes Monroe, N.C.-based ATI Allvac, one of the largest U.S. producers of aerospace titanium and nickel-based alloy long products. An ATI spokesman insisted at the time that this change had nothing to do with PCCs acquisition of Timet, but rather the addition into ATI of forgings and castings producer Ladish Co., which was acquired by ATI in 2011 (amm.com, May 10, 2011).
Nevertheless, it is believed that this diminishing titanium data pool might have contributed to third-quarter 2013 mill product shipment numbers that the industry perceived as wildly implausible. The numbersreported by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)showed mill product shipments for the period 64 percent ahead of the second quarter and 41 percent above the third quarter of 2012, which industry sources saw as having little resonance in an overall environment of flat titanium demand. These figures will be revised within the next few weeks when the USGS is expected to report fourth-quarter 2013 data, these sources said.