While the last calendar quarter of 2012 was still dominated by cautious anticipation with regard to the current business year, the first indications of an economic recovery in China and progress in overcoming the European debt crisis have been increasingly interpreted by various quarters as a positive trend reversal It remains a fact, however, that the sustainability of both the uptrend in China and the beginning of an easing of the European debt dilemma can only be assessed in the further course of the year. Furthermore, it should not be overlooked that growth impulses of any consequence cannot be expected from other important economic regions, such as India and South America, and—even more importantly—the “fiscal cliff” problem in the USA has still not been permanently solved. Against this backdrop, a real step in the direction of a global improvement of the economic situation seems to be quite improbable prior to the second half of 2013. In the short term, however, individual industry segments could see an uptick in demand as a result of inventory cycle effects. As a slightly positive conclusion from what we know today, there are numerous indications that at least the broad-based economic downtrend that we have experienced in the last quarters has come to a stop as of the turn of the year 2012/13.
For the voestalpine Group, expectations for the last quarter of the business year are similar to what we saw in the immediately preceding quarter, whereby both quarters are traditionally affected by significant seasonal effects. The current performance of the voestalpine Group compared to the competition confirms very clearly yet again how right our fundamental strategic policy of the last ten years has been. With the strategy of guiding the Group away from being a “classic” steel company to becoming a specialized technology and industrial goods group with a long value chain and sophisticated niche products differentiates the Group—particularly in difficult economic times—from the competition by its relatively stable profitability that continues to be at a healthy level. “Despite the fact that the economic environment continues to be challenging, from today’s perspective, the Management Board is still anticipating the results for the business year 2012/13 that were predicted in the letter to shareholders for the second quarter, i.e., an operating result (EBITDA) in the range of EUR 1.4 billion and profit from operations (EBIT) of around EUR 800 million, although the conditions for achieving these target figures have become significantly more adverse in recent months,” said Eder.