Last year stands out as a great one for our industry and we enter into the first quarter of 2019 with optimism across both gases and welding equipment, but with many erring on the side of caution later on in the year.
According to the recent results of the fourth quarter 2018 Baird/gasworld Welding and Industrial Gas Survey, growth in gases and equipment averaged over 7.4% and 6.1%, respectively, during 2018 but this is expected to slow in the latter part of 2019.
Responses point to anxiety in the second half of this year in spite of implied acceleration in numerical growth forecasts. Respondents from Executives in the industrial, scientific and welding gas distributors, together with senior executives from metal fabrication services expect hardgoods revenue to increase 4.3% in the first quarter and 5.6% for the full year. Respondents also expect sales of gases to increase 4.6% in the first quarter and 5.8% for the full year, although the growth acceleration implied in numeric responses is at odds with respondent commentary pointing to slower growth ahead. An increase in industrial sales of 5.6% is expected for the full year 2019.
Distributor margin pressures continue, according to the survey, with comments from respondents reporting healthy demands trends at the moment, margin pressures and slower growth as the year progresses.
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