Acimga Reports on the Italian Graphic and Paper Industry

MILAN, ITALY | According to a new survey from Acimga, the Italian Manufacturers Assn. for the Graphic, Converting and Paper Industry, it’s too early to talk about recovery, but in a scenario where the domestic market is stagnant and international competition is increasingly aggressive, the predominant outlook for the graphic and paper machinery industry is optimistic.

Exports and export-generated revenues are growing, thus offsetting the protracted difficulties in the domestic market and keeping employment levels stable. In addition, expectations for the first quarter of this year are positive. This in sum is what emerged from the market survey performed by the research department of Acimga with regard to market performance in the Q4 2013 and forecasts for Q1 2014.

Acimga represents a sector producing over €2 billion in revenues, 83% of which are generated by exports; it employs 7,000 people in about 150 companies, 90% of which are small and medium size.

The qualitative market survey, conducted on a representative sample generating 82% of total revenues, shows exports as companies’ main strength: 48% of companies report an increase in exports in Q4 2013, 40% report stability, and only 12% report a drop. These results are expected to repeat in the first three months of 2014, with substantial stability (48%) and a greater number of companies expecting growth (32%) compared to those expecting a decrease (20%). This data is supported by order performance on foreign markets, which shows an upward trend at the end of 2013 and is expected to remain stable (48%) in Q1 2014, with a predominance of positive forecasts (44% compared to 8%) from market operators.

The study says the international scenario, traditionally very receptive to Italian products, looks interesting for the coming months, especially in Far East markets, in Middle East countries such as Iran, and in the recovering US market. Conversely, it is less promising in Latin American countries compared to the past.

According to the survey, export performance offsets a critical domestic market, curbed by the liquidity crisis which causes even those companies interested in investing to be extremely cautious. The domestic market was substantially stagnant in the last portion of the year (46% of companies report stability, the remaining sample is equally divided between increase and drop) with optimists having a slight margin in the forecasts for Q1 2014. The same is true for domestic orders, again with a predominant positive outlook for the beginning of 2014. Nearly 80% of sample companies report stable employment levels.

“Our companies represent an industry segment capable of reacting to difficulties and having with a strong presence on global markets,” says Acimga president Marco Calcagni, “as clearly evidenced by the results of the market survey. However, we cannot overlook important signs like the stagnation of the domestic market, slowed down by a liquidity crisis banks do little to mitigate. Also, we need to pay close attention to the international market, where competition is increasingly fierce. German manufacturers are gaining ground on Italian companies, accompanied beyond their national borders by a more efficient financial and banking system. This, coupled with the overvaluation of the euro versus the US dollar, signals the need for greater, more effective support to the ‘Italian systems’ on international markets.”

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