I know I speak on this subject a great deal because it is a challenge and an opportunity for the steel industry, and I love challenges. I am counting on you recognizing the opportunities….
When it comes to the SMU Steel Summit Conference there are two keys to our success: 1) quality content and 2) exceptional networking. When I made the decision to take our conference, which had over 1,100 attendees last year in Atlanta, online to a virtual setting those two keys of success were part of the decision-making process. I would not commit to do a virtual conference unless I was certain that our team (CRU & SMU) could produce a conference people will be talking about months after the event has concluded.
As I just mentioned, last year we had just over 1,100 attendees. Can we replicate that this year? I believe we can.
Many of you are already succumbing to “webinar fatigue” and the pandemic has only been an issue in the U.S. since mid-March of this year. The real shutdowns were in April and May. During that time many of us have learned to work from home and use video to link with your co-workers and clients. Most likely, like me and my family, you are having FaceTime or Zoom video meetings. Enough with the %&*#!@ webinars… I hear you and I feel your pain.
We seem to be able to tolerate television and movies (on the TV) better than non-stop webinars and Zoom meetings. We took that into consideration as we are rebuilding our program.
So, we will be having shorter, more focused, interactive programs with a story line. I will discuss this in much more detail after I have had time to speak and provide details about our virtual conference platform with our speakers.
I can tell you we are going to expand our program. I added a new speaker today: Leon Topalian, President & CEO of Nucor. I will be adding more high-quality speakers and programs in the coming days.
So, how do we get the same kind of numbers to our conference as we have done over the past few years? Quality content, expanded program, interactive program, on demand material, super exhibitors and sponsors (something else I will need to chat about in future posts) and a new networking experience that does not prohibit individuals and companies from meeting and interacting with new potential clients/suppliers. I am going to be speaking about this a lot in the coming weeks. I anticipate that I will also conduct one or two webinars focused on what you can expect when you attend an SMU Virtual Steel Summit Conference. We will start those in July.
In the meantime, we have now been taking registrations for the virtual conference for 18 days. We are over 250 registered attendees. We are posting the list of the companies on our conference website page, which you can access by clicking here.
If you want to register for the conference, you can do that by clicking on this link.
If you want to ask me questions, or if your company is considering sending a large contingent to our conference and you would like a private demo of what to expect, please send me a note: John@SteelMarketUpdate.com
We had a good SMU Community Chat Webinar with Donald Bly of Applied Value on Wednesday. Next week we are going to defer to CRU, which is presenting a free webinar for the industry. They will have a few of their analysts covering steel (and steel price forecasts), scrap and other items of interest to our members. Their webinar will be on Tuesday, June 23, at 10 AM ET (9 CT, 8 MT, 7 PT). You can register for this webinar by clicking on this link.
We will return to our normal time and place for the SMU Community Chat webinar beginning on Wednesday, July 1 at 11 AM when we host Eddie Lehner, President & CEO of Ryerson. We will begin taking registrations for that free webinar next week.
Thank you for spending a few minutes with me today. I hope to see you soon on a CRU or SMU webinar of your choice. Even better, I hope to see you in our virtual conference (and I will know who is there, as will you once you are in the lobby of the 2020 SMU Virtual Steel Summit Conference)….
As always, your business is truly appreciated by all of us here at Steel Market Update.
John Packard, President & CEO
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Latest in Final Thoughts
Domestic prices have been sliding since the beginning of the year, and I don’t see any obvious reasons why the slide might stop this week. But let’s put the timing of a bottom aside for a minute. The question among some of you seems to be whether we’ll see another price spike, or at least a “dead-cat bounce,” before the typical summer doldrums kick in.
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.
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?
Everyone knows the old saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Just because it’s a cliché doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. A lot of inked has been spilled trying to figure out why prices are falling now. I thought it might be as simple as this: Market dynamics in the fourth quarter (UAW strike, companies buying ahead of an anticipated post-strike price spike, etc.) pulled forward restocking activity that typically happens in the first quarter.
What a difference a month makes. There are a few full bulls left in the room, but their numbers are dwindling. We’ll release results of our full steel market survey tomorrow afternoon. I took a sneak peak at the data on Thursday. And more people than I expected think that US hot-rolled (HR) coil prices will be in the $700s per short ton (st) two months from now. Vanishingly few think prices will be above $1,000/st in mid-April.