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Andrew R. Lane
Chairman, President & CEO
Andrew R. Lane has served as our president and chief executive officer since September 2008 and our chairman of the Board since December 2009. He has also served as a director of MRC Global Inc. since September 2008.
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MRC's market-focused magazine, InSight, is published bi-annually for our customers and features product lead times, data, market sector information and price trends.
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The copper market was relatively stable in 2013, but experienced a drop in price to $2.90 p/lb in early 2014 due to concerns surrounding China's economy. This reduction is expected to be temporary, rebounding to trade in a range of $3.10 to $3.60 by mid - 2014. Availability is expected to be good through the summer, from stock to 3 weeks, and pricing should be relatively stable barring significant escalation in the Ukraine or any North Korean disturbances. Key markets that could impact the wire market include the US housing market, automobile production and construction.
Demand for MSAs and risers has been driven by the various replacement projects undertaken by gas distribution companies. Finished goods availability from manufacturers has been adversely impacted by supply difficulties for components, including regulators and, to a certain extent, gas valves. Standard steel and polyethylene pipe sizes should be readily available. Special care should be taken to share forecast information well in advance of material requirements to assure finished goods availability. Lead times for meter sets are 12 to 14 weeks for unplanned demand due to the issues surrounding component availability. Riser availability is in the 4 to 6 week range for unplanned demand. Price increases in the range of 3% to 5% are expected by the end of the Q3 2014, mostly due to increased valve, polyethylene pipe and freight costs.
The availability of polyethylene (PE) fittings should improve in 2014, as key manufacturers and MRC Global have worked to build inventories in anticipation of increased demand. Additionally, key manufacturers have taken steps towards improving production capacity. Pricing is expected to be impacted through implemented and announced resin increases. The resulting cost increases are expected to be in the 3% to 5% range by the end of Q3 2014.
Magnesium anodes are readily available. In 2013, the magnesium industry projected demand increases of 7%. Since this demand increase was not realized, consequent future lead times should remain in the stock to 2 week range. Price decreases of up to 5% are expected this year due to the oversupply and weak Chinese currency (RMB) versus the USD. Supply could be impacted by plant closures as the Chinese government continues to address pollution concerns. Likewise, pricing could face impacts from increasing freight rates, as trucking companies pass along increased fuel costs and capitalize on the tight freight market created by harsh winter conditions in the eastern US.
Resin increases of 4% were implemented in February 2014 with an additional 5% to 7% announced for March, but were deferred to April. Increases in demand in the 6% to 10% range over robust levels in 2013 will likely result in announced increases. Growth is being fueled by a rebounding US housing market, gas distribution replacement programs and expansion in oil and gas markets. Further pipe price increases could follow as ASTM considers a “no rework” policy for pressure piping. Other impacts to pricing could occur with additional bar coding requirements to meet traceability needs, as well as any geo-political or weather threats.
Supply of resin remains tight due to a strong global market and plant shutdowns, both planned and unplanned. Lead times will be in the range of 2 to 4 weeks with pricing increases of up to 10% by mid - 2014.
Meter and regulator manufacturers continue to grapple with satisfying utility requirements. Yearly meter orders must be placed within the first few months of the 2014 to assure production space. Regulators, in some cases, are experiencing even longer lead times. These regulator lead time issues have had an adverse effect on the supply of meter set assemblies. Both meters and regulators are experiencing minimum lead times of 12 to 14 weeks for unplanned requirements. Price increases in the 3% range were incurred at the beginning of the year. However, prices are expected to remain flat through Q3 2014.
Copyright © 2014 MRC Global - This information is confidential and was prepared by MRC Global for the use of our customers; it is not to be reproduced nor relied on by any third party without MRC Global's prior written consent. Unless otherwise noted, all monetary references in InSight are in USD.
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