The economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, which at the beginning was partially accompanied by overheating tendencies, continued overall in the first half of 2021/22. However, given the recent developments that have come into focus, the further positive growth expectations appear somewhat more uncertain.
Toward the end of the reporting period, the continued high volatility on the raw materials side was accompanied by sharp increases in energy costs. From today's perspective, no change in this situation on the purchasing side can be expected at least until the end of the current business year.
As far as sales are concerned, our expectations going forward differ depending on the market and region. The automotive industry continues to suffer from semiconductor supply chain difficulties. This situation is unlikely to ease before the middle of the next business year. It is important to note in this regard that the decrease in automotive production does not stem from a weakness in demand. Absent microchips, end consumers’ high demand, which continues unabated, cannot be fully satisfied. It is to expected, therefore, that some areas will see a time lag in order call-ups for voestalpine’s products.
Demand from the construction, mechanical engineering, and consumer goods industries for the voestalpine Group’s products remains high. At this point in time, we expect the railways segment—a stabilizing earnings factor—to continue delivering good performance despite the usual seasonal weakening. The energy sector (oil & natural gas) has rebounded substantially of late, and this trend should continue throughout the second half of the business year 2021/22.
Aerospace, too, is showing signs of a recovery. Recently, the major aircraft manufacturers issued more optimistic forecasts for short and medium-haul jets, a trend that is already reflected in rising order levels.
Regionally speaking, the positive development of the U.S. economy continues unabated, whereas some economic indicators for China point to a slowing down of that country’s momentum. Nonetheless, the economic forecasts for China on the whole remain substantially positive. The current forecasts for Europe also point to positive economic growth, both for the current calendar year and the next one.
Based on the Group’s results for the first half of the business year 2021/22 and the assumption that there will be no unexpected economic distortions, at this time the Management Board of voestalpine AG thus continues to expect EBITDA of between EUR 1,900 million and EUR 2,200 million for the business year 2021/22.