Aug. 19, 2015
IBISWorld: Metals Wholesaling to Decline by 2.4%
The metals distribution industry has grown at a 4.8 percent annual rate over the past five years, spurred by the growing economy and its higher manufacturing activity. Industry revenues are forecast to decline by 2.4 percent this year, however, due to the decline in metal prices, estimate market researchers at IBISWorld in their June report, “Metal Wholesaling in the U.S.”
By IBISWorld’s calculations, metals wholesaling will generate more than $228 billion in revenue in 2015, making it one of the largest industries in the United States. Despite the past decade of consolidation, IBISWorld estimates the industry still has about 10,600 locations operated by more than 7,500 companies. Like Census Bureau data, these figures appear to overstate the market’s size somewhat, compared with conventional wisdom, but they lead to the same conclusion—that the metals service center industry remains highly fragmented and intensely competitive within localized areas.
The world price of steel is the most pertinent driver of industry performance. Through 2011, rising steel prices lifted the industry out of the recession. However, steel prices have since declined due to high levels of low-cost imports. The prices of aluminum, copper and other nonferrous metals are under similar pressure due to high global supplies. IBISWorld expects restrained prices to keep industry profits at 3.5 percent of revenues in 2015.
Going forward, gradual growth in metals pricing is expected to boost wholesalers’ revenues. IBISWorld projects industry sales will grow at an average annual rate of 3.0 percent for the next five years. Profit is also forecast to inch upward, albeit modestly.