Weak aluminium packaging sector weighs on Constellium results, despite improving automotive shipments

The continued weakness in the aluminium packaging sector has been reflected in the financial results of producer Constellium published on Wednesday July 26, with lower revenue and shipments reported for the segment

In its second quarter, which ended on June 30, Constellium’s packaging and automotive rolled products (P&ARP) segment reported a 7% year-on-year decrease in shipments at 272,000 metric tons due to lower shipments of packaging and specialty rolled products, which were partially offset by higher shipments of automotive rolled products.

The segment’s revenue of €1 billion ($1.1 billion) was down by 22% year on year primarily due to the decreased shipments and lower metal prices, which were partially offset by improved price and mix, the company said.

The P&ARP segment’s adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (Ebitda) was down by 17% year on year in the second quarter due to the lower shipments and higher operating costs, which the company linked to inflation, operating challenges at its Muscle Shoals facility in the US state of Alabama and unfavorable metal costs.

The segment’s first half 2023 results also cited the same factors, which saw its adjusted Ebitda drop 24% to €134 million, shipments fall 7% to 531,000 metric tons and revenue decline 17% to €2.1 billion, all on a year-on-year comparison.

Aluminium packaging sector weakens

Fastmarkets reported earlier this year that the packaging sector had started to weaken for many in first-quarter results for aluminium producers, with this trend now continuing into the second quarter.

Aluminium premiums across the key global markets have been on a downward trend during the quarter amid poor consumer demand.

Fastmarkets assessed the aluminium P1020A premium, in-whs dp Rotterdam at $280-300 per tonne on July 25.

The premium has been falling steadily during the last quarter, with a monthly average of $300-327.78 per tonne in June, $315.56-340 per tonne in May and $320-340 per tonne in April.

Constellium’s automotive structures & industry (AS&I) shipments were down 8% year on year in its second quarter at 66,000 metric tons due to lower other extruded product shipments, which were partially offset by higher shipments of automotive extruded products, it said.

The weaker P&ARP and AS&I sector shipments were reflected in the 6% year-on-year decrease in group shipments to 398,000 metric tons in the second quarter, down from 424,000 metric tons, as well as a 14% decrease year-on-year in revenue to €2 billion.

For the first half of 2023, group shipments were down 5% year on year to 787,000 metric tons and revenue down 8% to €3.9 billion.

Group adjusted Ebitda of €374 million for the first half of 2023 was up 2% year on year due to strong performance by its Aerospace & Transportation (A&T) segment, which partially offset weaker results in the P&ARP segment.

Buyer demand in aluminium sector

The European Automotive Manufacturers Association (Acea) reported that in June, the European car market grew by 17.8% to 1 million registered units, while in the first half of 2023, new EU car registrations increased significantly by 17.9%, reaching 5.4 million units.

But it noted that cumulative volumes are 21% lower compared to 2019.

“The recovery in automotive continued with higher shipments in both rolled and extruded products. Packaging shipments were down in the quarter as demand remained below prior year levels, and we continued to experience weakness in most industrial markets, especially in Europe,” Jean-Marc Germain, Constellium chief executive officer, said.

Elsewhere, the aerospace sector continues to perform well, remaining a key source of demand for the aluminium sector.

Germain said the A&T segment’s record quarterly adjusted Ebitda was supported by continued strength in aerospace demand.

Constellium noted that its robust A&T segment continues to help offset other weak sectors, with its second-quarter adjusted Ebitda rising 53% year on year due to improved price and mix, partially offset by higher operating costs mainly due to inflation and increased activity levels.

The segment’s shipments of 60,000 metric tons in the second quarter were flat year on year, while revenue of €464 million was also relatively stable.

The A&T segment’s first half of 2023 adjusted Ebitda increased 46% year on year to €169 million, as did revenue of €916 million, which increased by 8%, primarily due to higher shipments and improved price and mix.

Shipments of 118,000 metric tons in the period were up 2% compared to the first half of 2022 on higher shipments of aerospace rolled products, partially offset by lower shipments of transportation, industry and defense rolled products.

Germain praised the company’s results, despite “significant inflationary pressures.”

Despite the ongoing headwinds, Constellium has raised its guidance for its adjusted Ebitda.

“Based on our strong performance in the first half of this year and our current outlook for the second half, which assumes no major deterioration on the macroeconomic or geopolitical fronts, we are raising our guidance and now expect adjusted Ebitda of €700 million to €720 million in 2023,” Germain said.

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