Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard


What we like to hear for our member companies: One of the largest service centers in the U.S. told us earlier this week after registering for our Steel Summit Conference, “Our guys tell me your conference is very good, I’m looking forward to attending. Also, several mills tell me that your conference is turning into one of the main events as well for meeting key people.”

Our conference is an exceptional place to meet decision makers who are associated with manufacturing (CEO’s, CFO’s, Corp Purchasing Directors), service centers (CEO’s, Sales Managers, Purchasing Managers), trading companies, steel mills and toll processors (CEO’s, CFO’s, Sales Managers and sales people). Come join us in Atlanta, you won’t be disappointed!

Here are some of the companies who have registered to attend our conference over the past few days: Laphen-Hickey Steel, Big River Steel, Platts, Worthington Steel, CRU, Bull Moose Tube, Bar Steel, MiTek, Steel Technologies, Monarch Materials, Leeco Steel, The Bradbury Group, Sheffield Steel, Cowen & Company, Reliance Steel & Aluminum, Coilplus Texas, Goodman Manufacturing, California Steel Industries.

I received a call from the head of purchasing for a large service center and we talked about the lack of foreign hot rolled offers into the United States. Turkey, Egypt, Argentina were some of the countries mentioned but the tonnage and prices were far from being outstanding. One of our Turkish contacts recently told us offers into the east coast were around $540 per ton which is not that attractive to buyers unless they have negative domestic freight considerations. For those of you who do not buy hot rolled there is not as much being offered out there by foreign sources as you might think. This is helping to keep HRC prices stuck in the low $600’s.

I also spoke with a number of steel mills today and they are telling me there is no advantage to offering cheaper prices because either the orders are not there or, they (the mills) feel that buyers will have to buy due to their low inventories and it is only a matter of time and the mills are willing to wait.

AK Steel announced earnings today and one of the things their CEO, Roger Newport was asked was about the possibility of restarting the hot end at Ashland. He told Timna Tanners, “As for the Ashland restart, it’s a very complicated kind of discussion. It’s sustained levels of profitability is what we’d want to see in order to restart that facility and that has to do with spot prices, import level, demand for our products, overall world economy, where are the raw material prices headed, all of those things really factor in. And so, while we’ve seen some positive signs since we’ve temporary idled it, it hasn’t changed, I would say, materially and given us the indication that it’s consistently going to be now different that would force us to be in a position to start that up at this point. So we’re continuing to evaluate that.”

The AK Steel CEO will be one of our keynote speakers at this year’s Steel Summit Conference (and Timna Tanners of Bank of America Merrill Lynch will also be a presenter).

US Steel announced a small loss ($46 million) during the 2nd Quarter 2016. The mill will have an earnings conference call tomorrow with analysts and we will have our take on the earnings and call in Thursday evening’s newsletter (with luck it will be on the website tomorrow night for our members to review).

As always your business is truly appreciated by all of us here at Steel Market Update.

John Packard, Publisher

Latest in Final Thoughts

Final thoughts

I’ve had discussions with some of you lately about where and when sheet prices might bottom. Some of you say that hot-rolled (HR) coil prices won’t fall below $800 per short ton (st). Others tell me that bigger buyers aren’t interested unless they can get something that starts with a six. Obviously a lot depends on whether we're talking 50 tons or 50,000 tons. I've even gotten some guff about how the drop in US prices is happening only because we’re talking about it happening.

Final thoughts

We’ve all heard a lot about mill “discipline” following a wave of consolidation over the last few years. That discipline is often evident when prices are rising, less so when they are falling. I remember hearing earlier this year that mills weren’t going to let hot-rolled (HR) coil prices fall below $1,000 per short ton (st). Then not below $900/st. Now, some of you tell me that HR prices in the mid/high-$800s are the “1-800 price” – widely available to regular spot buyers. So what comes next, and will mills “hold the line” in the $800s?