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Magazine Issue: May 2015


Cover Story

Sapa shapes up
A self-proclaimed ‘finance guy’ turned aluminum extrusions top executive, Patrick Lawlor has spent just shy of two decades working for the biggest names in the industry. Over that seasoned career, the president of Sapa Extrusions Americas has never been more bullish. Three guesses why.

Market Spotlight

PARTING SHOTS

  • The latest rankings of steelmakers and natural resource companies

    These tables present steel and natural resource companies’ earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (Ebitda)/ sales ratios. Some companies improved their results in the fourth quarter of 2014 vs. the third quarter and a year earlier.

MARKET SPOTLIGHT: ALUMINUM

  • Demand declines, oversupply keep sector guessing

    While aluminum prices have dropped early in 2015 due to falling demand and adequate supplies, metals producers say the both the near- and long-term outlook for the sector remains stable and strong.

Columns

PARTING SHOTS

  • International trade has dominated the story of US Steel

    A glance at the accompanying American Iron and Steel Institute chart reveals the continuing dilemma of all U.S. steel companies. Although the U.S. producers have vigorously pursued the remedies available to them under existing trade laws, the net effect over the last 44 years has been a steady and inexorable decline in market share. Conversely, import share has doubled over this period—so it is a mistake to diagnose this merely as a today problem or a momentary crisis. Fundamental, deep-seated forces are at work that seriously disadvantage U.S. producers.

THE METRICS SYSTEM

  • Are steel, import and raw materials prices still linked?

    Last spring I took a look at what factors might most be having an impact on the direction of steel prices. The conclusion was that steel imports and raw material costs produced the most correlation. A year later, is this still the case?

CASE STUDIES

CASE STUDIES

  • AK is building a world-class research, innovation center

    A measure of the importance domestic steelmakers place on the role that technology will play in the steel industry of the twenty-first century is AK Steel’s recent announcement that it plans to build a new, world-class research and innovation center in Middletown, Ohio.

CASE STUDIES

  • Dipping a toe in robotics by dipping probes in steel

    Injury accidents in steelmaking are not just tragedies, they are object lessons in engineering and physics. Assuming that no one designs a process with the intention of making it hazardous for workers, one key early focus of robotics development by Siemens was driven by finding where humans were most at risk and replacing those functions, if possible – rather than simply starting from the existing performance envelope of robotics technology and seeing where it could be applied to steelmaking.

MARKET SPOTLIGHT: ALUMINUM

  • Despite rough start, year looks good for metal's health

    As the second quarter of 2015 seeks equilibrium following a volatile start to the year, aluminum producers are concentrating on pricing and supply. Still, at least judging by the most recent reporting, aluminum producers are in good shape.

MARKET SPOTLIGHT: ALUMINUM

  • Imports are potential stumbling block to rosier outlook

    Citing “downside risk to domestic pricing from imports,” a major industry analyst recently downgraded its earnings outlook for several aluminum producers, including Alcoa Inc., Pittsburgh; Century Aluminum Co., Chicago; and Noranda Aluminum Holdings Corp., Franklin, Tenn.

THE MONTH IN METALS

  • Conferences highlight energy troubles, opportunities

    Two major steel tube and pipe industry-related trade events—one held in March, the other set for early May—highlight issues facing steelmakers challenged by recent drops in demand, energy prices and the threat from global capacity and also the opportunities presented by the emergence of new technologies.

From the Editor

COMMENT

  • Innovation is critical for steel to thrive and survive

    As Nucor Corp. chairman, president and chief executive officer John Ferriola pointed out at an industry event in mid-March, technological innovation is critical to the steel industry right now. This message should strike other executives as not only self-evident, but urgent.

Features

AMM AWARDS FOR STEEL EXCELLENCE 2015 FINALISTS

AMM AWARDS FOR STEEL EXCELLENCE 2015 FINALISTS

AMM AWARDS FOR STEEL EXCELLENCE 2015 FINALISTS

AMM AWARDS FOR STEEL EXCELLENCE 2015 FINALISTS

AMM AWARDS FOR STEEL EXCELLENCE 2015 FINALISTS

AMM AWARDS FOR STEEL EXCELLENCE 2015 FINALISTS

AMM AWARDS FOR STEEL EXCELLENCE 2015 FINALISTS

AMM AWARDS FOR STEEL EXCELLENCE 2015 FINALISTS

AMM AWARDS FOR STEEL EXCELLENCE 2015 FINALISTS

AMM AWARDS FOR STEEL EXCELLENCE 2015 FINALIST

AMM AWARDS FOR STEEL EXCELLENCE 2015 FINALISTS

AMM AWARDS FOR STEEL EXCELLENCE 2015 FINALISTS

AMM AWARDS FOR STEEL EXCELLENCE 2015 FINALISTS

AMM AWARDS FOR STEEL EXCELLENCE 2015 FINALISTS

AMM AWARDS FOR STEEL EXCELLENCE 2015 FINALISTS

AMM AWARDS FOR STEEL EXCELLENCE 2015 FINALISTS

  • Award Shows

    Following a highly competitive nomination period, 45 firms have been named finalists for the Sixth Annual American Metal Market Awards for Steel Excellence, which honor world-class companies in and in support of the global steel industry.

END-USER SPOTLIGHT

  • Aerospace is on flight to profit, at least eventually

    Although the aerospace sector has substantially outperformed the market, leading analysts say, downside risks have heightened, despite end-user production rates that in some cases are twice what they were when the Great Recession hit seven years ago.

TECH TOOLS

  • Virtual drive

    With steel companies always looking to save time and money, ever-evolving automation brings more information to employees faster and with more depth, including such areas as plant production, data storage and retrieval, human resources and sophisticated analytics.

FORMED OPINIONS

  • Taking shape

    New technology is transforming the ways in which steel–especially advanced high-strength steel–is formed and machined, changing the ways the metals are used for applications in the automotive, appliance and aerospace industries and keeping steelmakers competitive.

OPTIMIZING BEHAVIOR

  • The creative process

    The high cost of doing business and the cyclical nature of metals industry, as well as the problems that could be associated with mill downtime, are making many companies in the industry increasingly aware of the benefits of employing a variety of optimization strategies.

AYE, ROBOT

  • Automation nation

    Robots are moving into more autonomous, complex operations as additional safety for humans is supported by better sensors and integration for equipment that has moved the focus in steel on getting people away from hot metal, dangerous currents and gases.

Latest Pricing Trends Year Over Year