Economic sentiment gradually deteriorated over the first half of the business year 2022/23, and the uncertainties as to the ramifications of the war in Ukraine particularly for Europe also continued to grow. In turn, economic forecasts are becoming increasingly pessimistic.
Toward the end of the reporting period, first signs of restraint on the part of customers in some of the voestalpine Group’s market segments already reflected the gradual loss of economic confidence.
Hence the Management Board of voestalpine AG expects the global economy to cool off substantially during the second half of the business year 2022/23.
In its view, the biggest challenges during this period will arise in Europe, whereas the downturn in North America should still remain modest over the next few months. As far as the voestalpine Group is concerned, demand in Brazil is expected to decline but only slightly on the whole despite the expected weakening of the domestic economy. We expect China to continue more or less along its current trajectory and deliver restrained growth in the current business year’s second half. Hence the voestalpine Group’s global positioning should help at least to support earnings despite the expected contraction of the economy in the current business year’s second half.
Sector diversification will further help to stabilize the situation. While demand in traditionally cyclical industries such as the consumer goods, white goods, construction, and mechanical engineering industries is expected to decline over the business year’s next two quarters, we expect the railway technology segment to follow a stable trajectory and both the energy and the aerospace sectors to continue their upward trend in the second half of the business year as well. In the automotive industry, no improvement in demand for voestalpine products is expected by the end of the 2022/23 business year.
Given the voestalpine Group’s excellent earnings performance in the first half of the current business year 2022/23 and given the expectation that the global economy will cool in the second half of the business year 2022/23, the Management Board of voestalpine AG currently expects EBITDA of between EUR 2.3 billion and EUR 2.4 billion, as already announced on October 24, 2022. This figure includes positive non-recurring effects of about EUR 120 million from a real property sale that is expected to close during the current business year.
The voestalpine Group has responded to the threat scenario of a lack of natural gas supplies in Europe by filling its own natural gas storage facility as well as by diversifying its own natural gas supplies. At present, voestalpine’s European facilities cover roughly one half of their natural gas needs from non-Russian sources. By itself, the amount of natural gas contained in the Group’s own storage facility would be sufficient for at least three months’ of full production activity. As far as natural gas supplies are concerned, production at voestalpine’s European plants is therefore ensured for the remainder of the business year. However, this analysis does not consider potential curtailments on customers’ part in case of natural gas supply problems in Europe.
This outlook does not take into account any unexpected economic distortions from the further course of the war in Ukraine or any energy supply problems in Europe.