News from Notch Consulting, Inc.

September 30, 2009

Evonik Raises Silica Prices

Filed under: Silica — Notch @ 7:51 am

On September 29, Evonik Industries announced it would increase its silica prices worldwide. The price increase of 5% will become effective on November 1, 2009, or as contracts allow. It is being driven by higher costs.

Here is the press release.

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September 24, 2009

Toyo Moving Production from China to Japan Due to US Tariffs

Filed under: Carbon Black, General, Rubber Chemicals, Silica, Tire Cord, Tires — Notch @ 9:41 am

Tire Business (subscription required) is reporting that Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. will move production of consumer tires it makes in China for export to the U.S. to plants in Japan in response to the Obama administration’s decision to impose higher tariffs on Chinese-made passenger and light truck tires.

Toyo sources tires for the U.S. market from Cheng Shin-Toyo Tire & Rubber (China) Co. Ltd., its former joint venture plant in Kunshan, China. Toyo and Taiwan’s Cheng Shin Rubber Ind. Co. Ltd. set up the joint venture in 1995, but Toyo disclosed in early September it is selling its share in the venture and instead will build its own plant in China.

September 23, 2009

Ford Forecasts US Car Sales Will Hit 11 Million Units in 2009

Filed under: General — Notch @ 9:10 pm

During the launch of a new small car in New Delhi, India, Ford CEO Alan Mulally told reporters that the company expects U.S. car sales to reach 11 million in 2009 and then rise to 12.5 million in 2010 and 14.5 million in 2011, the year Ford vows it will break-even.

Edmunds.com promptly threw cold water on that forecast.

“That’s pretty optimistic for 2009,” said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds.com senior analyst. “The industry would have to average 1 million sales for the next four months to achieve Ford’s predicted 11 million.” Edmunds.com forecasts full-year sales will come in just under 10.2 million. For the year through August 31, automakers in the U.S. have sold 7,048,897 vehicles.

Edmunds.com noted that September will not hit the 1 million mark. Edmunds.com’s latest forecast calls for September to see the lowest Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate of the year at about 8.8 million vehicles in the Cash for Clunkers aftermath. This is the lowest level in nearly 28 years, and ties the worst month on record, which was December 1981. The weak September data followed a bump in July and August caused by the “Cash for Clunkers” program, which officially ran from July 24 to August 24. Sales were 11.1 million in July and 13.7 million in August.

US sales were 16.2 milion in 2007, falling to 13.2 million in 2008 as the global recession and high fuel prices took their toll on sales.

Cooper Breaks Ground on Tupelo Expansion

Filed under: Carbon Black, General, Rubber Chemicals, Silica, Tire Cord, Tires — Notch @ 8:37 pm

On Tuesday, September 22, Cooper Tire & Rubber held a groundbreaking ceremony for a $7 million expansion of its tire plant in Tupelo, Mississippi. The plant currently occupies more than 1.6 million square feet and employs more than 1,250 people. Construction is set to begin this month on a 32,000-square-foot addition, which will include a new mixer as well as a new mixing building. The project is expected to be complete by April 2010.

Pat Jodon, Plant Manager for the Cooper Tire Tupelo, Miss., facility, said, “This expansion will enable Cooper to produce more technologically advanced products and will enable the Company to improve the competitiveness of its operations.

Here is the press release.

September 15, 2009

India Changes Import Policy for Carbon Black

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 4:28 pm

On September 9, 2009, India’s Department of Commerce issued a notification (DGFT Notification No 08/2009-2014, Import Policy of Carobn black and Other, polyesters) that it had amended the import classification for carbon black, putting it on an open general license, or free policy. In other words, imports of carbon black are no longer restricted.

Upon first hearing of this decision, it seemed to me to be in conflict with the Department of Commerce’s decision at the end of July to impose anti-dumping duties on carbon black imported from Australia, China, Russia, and Thailand. However, a source at an Indian carbon black supplier explained to me that the two announcements are part of the same policy.

Prior to the imposition of anti-dumping duties, imports of carbon black were restricted. In order to implement the anti-dumping duties, however, the status of carbon black had to be changed to ‘free,’ as the duties cannot be imposed on a restricted product. As such, imports from Australia, China, Russia, and Thailand will be permitted but subject to the anti-dumping duties, which range from US$ 0.078 per kg to US$ 0.195 per kg based on the country of origin and the specific exporter. The duties will be in place through January 29, 2010.

This policy makes the anti-dumping duties something of a mixed blessing for India’s carbon black industry. On the one hand, imports from the four targeted countries will be subject to the duties. On the other hand, imports from any other country will no longer be restricted and will not be subject to the duties.

September 12, 2009

President Obama Imposes 35% Tariff on Imports of Chinese Tires

Filed under: Tires — Notch @ 12:51 am

President Obama has placed tariffs of 35% on passenger and light truck tires from China, siding with the United Steelworkers Union and other labor groups, which had filed a complaint that surging imports were eliminating US manufacturing jobs. The duties will begin September 26 and last for three years, dropping 5% per year (i.e., they will decline to 30% the second year and 25% the third year). The tariffs were lower than those suggested by the International Trade Commission, which recommended tariffs of 55% the first year, 45% the second, and 35% the third. The new tariffs are in addition to an existing 4% duty on all Chinese passenger and light truck tires.

Bloomberg on the story.
The Washington Post on the story.
The Wall Street Journal on the story.

September 9, 2009

Cabot Announces Management Changes

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 9:00 pm

On September 9, Cabot Corporation announced two management changes. David A. Miller will replace William Brady as General Manager, Core Segment, effective September 14, 2009. Cabot’s Core Segment includes its commodity businesses, including rubber blacks and supermetals. Mr. Miller comes from BP p.l.c., where he held a variety of management positions in BP’s chemical businesses over the last 27 years. Most recently, Mr. Miller served as President, Aromatics Asia, Europe & Middle East.

In the other management change, Nick Cross will replace Dirk Blevi as the Regional General Manager of the Europe, Middle East and Africa (“EMEA”) region, effective September 14, 2009. Mr. Cross also comes from BP p.l.c., where he held a variety of management positions primarily in BP’s chemical businesses as well as in its oil and gas business.

Here is the press release.

September 7, 2009

Amtel-Vredstein to Restructure, Change Name to Amtel N.V.

Filed under: General, Tires — Notch @ 1:48 pm

On September 2, Amtel-Vredstein N.V. issued a press release announcing that an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders had been held in Amsterdam at which it agreed on a new board (consisting of one man, Alexander Fayn, a senior executive with Amtel’s main shareholder, ABH holding), and a new set of proposals to restructure the finances of the troubled Russian tire company. The meeting also agreed to a proposal to dismiss Petr Zolotarev and Vadim Pesochinsky from the executive board. ERJ (subscription required) has a good write-up of the latest development and the recent history of Amtel’s financial struggles. According to Alfa, the Voronezh factory is idle, while production at the Kirov factory is sporadic. The company’s new factory, Voronezh II, needs approximately $50 million to become operational.

The text of the latest press release is below. The release is here.

EXTRAORDINARY GENERAL MEETING OF SHAREH0LDERS OF AMTEL-VREDESTEN N.V. APPROVED APPOINTMENT OF MR. FAYN AS SOLE EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBER AND NAME CHANGE INTO “AMTEL N.V.”

Enschede, The Netherlands – Amtel-Vredestein N.V. (“the Company”) announces that its Extraordinary General Meeting of Shareholders (“the EGM”) held today resolved in favour of all proposed resolutions, including the proposals to dismiss Messieurs. P. Zolotarev and V. Pesochinskiy as members of the Executive Board and to appoint Mr A. Fayn as a sole member of the Executive Board. Mr. Fayn gave a broad outline of the contemplated restructuring plan.

The proposal to amend Amtel-Vredestein N.V.’s articles of association in order to change the statutory name to “Amtel N.V.” was also approved by the EGM. The execution of the deed of amendment through which the actual name change will take place as well as corresponding changes to the Company’s website, corporate materials etc. will take place as soon as possible.

Mr. J.A.D.M. Daniels, bankruptcy trustee of the Company, provided an update on Amtel’s state of affairs and Mr. Pesochinskiy, CFO of the Company, provided the EGM with presentation on Amtel’s 2008 accounts.

Conference on Sustainable Additives and Fillers in Rubber to be Held in London

Filed under: Carbon Black, General, Silica — Notch @ 12:21 pm

The Rubber In Engineering Group (RIEG), part of Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining (London), is sponsoring a one-day technical meeting to discuss the “sustainable future for additives and fillers in rubber.” The conference will be held at IOM3 HQ in London on September 25.

Confirmed topics include:

  • The use of beneficated pulverised fuel ash (PFA) derived from coal fired power stations as a filler for rubbers and plastics;
  • Biopolymers as sustainable fillers for elastomers;
  • Use of crumb rubber as a replacement for mineral fillers in the polymer industry; and
  • Sustainable fillers for the polymer industry.

Details are here.

September 4, 2009

Various Groups Weigh in on Chinese Tire Tariffs

Filed under: Uncategorized — Notch @ 10:29 am

Over the last several weeks, numerous interested parties have weighed in on President Barack Obama’s pending decision on whether or not to impose tariffs on imports of Chinese passenger and light truck tires into the United States. On June 18, the International Trade Commission voted to recommend tariffs against Chinese tire imports of 55 percent the first year, 45 percent the second, and 35 percent the third. On September 2, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) submitted its recommendations (from Tire Business, subscription required) to the president on whether to implement the tariffs, though, as is customary, its recommendations were not made public. A decision on the matter is due by September 17.

On September 1, the Committee to Support U.S. Trade Laws (CSUSTL) — a coalition consisting of nearly 100 organizations, including the United Steelworkers (USW), which was the original petitioner to the ITC — has written the president to urge approval of the tariffs.

In a press release, David Hartquist, executive director of CSUSTL, wrote, “We write to underscore both the importance of Section 421 as a legitimate trade remedy, and to respectfully urge its application in appropriate cases. Campaign promises should be fulfilled and effective enforcement action taken to provide full relief where merited.”

On September 2, Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post wrote an editorial (subscription required) in favor of the tariffs. On August 4, the Wall Street Journal published an editorial strongly opposing the tariffs:

As Mr. Obama faces his moment of truth on tires, he ought to look at a report issued last week by Rutgers economist Thomas J. Prusa examining how the ITC’s proposed tariffs would ripple through the U.S. economy. Mr. Prusa calculates that each job “saved” by the ITC’s tariffs would come at the cost of at least 12 jobs lost, and possibly more than 25. Most tire-related employment in America consists of the people who distribute and install tires, not people who produce them. By depressing tire sales, a tariff would jeopardize those jobs.

As reported by Tire Business, the Tire Industry Association and many major tire retailers and distributors are fighting the tariffs, as are tire makers including Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. and Toyo Tire U.S.A. Inc. These parties assert that the duties would disrupt the U.S. tire market far more than anything they were supposed to correct.

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