Report on the Metal Industry in Iran

Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Iran Metals Report Q4 2009" report to their offering.

Iran Metals Report provides industry professionals and strategists, corporate analysts, metals associations, government departments and regulatory bodies with independent forecasts and competitive intelligence on Iran's metals industry.

Iran's steel industry continues to buck global trends, with large increases in output generated by growth in steel-using industries, notably in the energy sector, which is continuing its expansion. However, BMI's latest Iran Metals Report anticipates a slowdown in production in H209 and H110 due to economic and political uncertainties, but mid-2010 increases in capacity that should help the country become less reliant on imports over the medium term.

In H109, Iranian steel output increased 12.1% year-on-year (y-o-y) to 5.65mn tonnes, although there were signs that growth was slowing in Q2. In June, output was up 9.4% y-o-y to 910,000 tonnes, but down 4.2% from January. Nevertheless this represented a strong recovery from H208, when output plummeted and dragged the total volume down 0.9% to 9.96mn tonnes. Average monthly output in 2009 has been the highest on record and in contrast to the global trend which saw the decline in production occur after the onset of the financial crisis in September 2008. Growth has been fuelled by construction, including large new industrial facilities, as well as rising production of vehicles and consumer goods. Leading Iranian carmaker Saipa has forecast 10% growth in vehicle production in the 2009/10 Iranian year (which begins in March).

Although output has grown, Iran's high level of demand is leading to a large influx of steel, indicating that local steelmakers are still failing to take full advantage of or meet demand from the growing market. While Iran's privately-owned rolling mills produced 1.1mn tonnes of finished steel products, up 22% y-o-y, they were still producing at around a third of their 12mn tonnes per annum (tpa) capacity, while the country imported 2mn tonnes of steel in the quarter. Hot-rolled coil imports are set to grow by 37% y-o-y to 1.6mn tonnes in 2009, mostly from Russia, Ukraine and China.

In light of the Iranian steel industry's ongoing capacity expansion and rising domestic demand, BMI forecasts a 7.1% growth in crude steel output in 2009 to 10.68mn tonnes, followed by a significant slowdown in 2010 when output will grow by only 2.5% to 10.94mn tonnes. The slowdown is likely to begin in H209 as investor sentiment falters in an increasingly uncertain political and economic environment. Through its dependence on oil export revenue, Iran's economic health is intrinsically tied to the state of the global economy, which is seeing a protracted downturn. We believe that the drop in hard currency earnings will lead to liquidity problems. As a result of the credit crunch, steel consumers will run out of cash and financial support as well as being faced with weak demand for their products. Industrial project delays have been a constant problem for Iran, even during the best of times. The decline will be particularly felt by the Iranian automotive industry, an important consumer of Iranian steel and aluminium, where the strong growth seen in recent years will come to a juddering halt. BMI believes H209 output will be on average around 830,000 tonnes per month, nearly 11% less than in H1. Average monthly output should be higher in H210, assisted by capacity expansion mid-year. Output will grow faster than demand as Iran becomes more self-sufficient. As such, BMI believes that imports will have peaked in 2009 and are set to stagnate or fall.

Crude steel capacity is scheduled to rise to 17.7mn tpa in September 2009 as a result of development projects by Mobarakeh Steel, Esfahan Steel, and Khuzestan Steel coming on stream, and through the commissioning of Hormozgan Steel, a new steel plant in Bandar Abbas. Consequently, the industry is set for high levels of over-capacity in the near future. Rebar production will continue to lead the Iranian market, rising 6.5% to 3.34mn tonnes, while heavy sections production will grow by an estimated 5.6% to 1.99mn tonnes. The main loser will be in the production of tubes, which BMI expects to fall 13.4%. Although this may seem bearish, it is not a worst case scenario and BMI's outlook has improved since the previous quarter, when we forecast an 8.7% drop in crude steel output.


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