North America

North America combined sales per quarter 2013 

Combined sales: € 659 million
Capital expenditures (PP&E): € 10 million
Total assets: € 277 million
Employees: 1 700

Sound GDP growth in the third quarter of 2012 boosted the full-year economic growth rate of the US by more than 2%. While the agricultural sector remained weak, housing markets picked up slightly after a long period of low construction activity, but the decline at year-end reversed this trend again. The automotive rebound of 2011 continued throughout the year 2012.

The US tire sector could not benefit from the automotive growth: the now expired US Administration’s Section 421 against China tire imports did not prevent an increase of tire imports from other Asian countries. Moreover, the replacement market, which is much larger than the OEM, was down versus 2011, especially for truck tires (-5%). Bekaert’s manufacturing plants serving the US tire industry were therefore confronted with lower demand, contradictory to the automotive rebound. Bekaert’s flat and shaped wire activities could also not leverage the upswing of automotive markets due to a highly competitive environment and operational performance issues which took longer than expected to resolve.

They continued to report solid performance in other markets served, like the oil & gas industry.

Sluggish demand in agricultural markets as a result of the 2012 US draught and increased competitive imports of wire products for the construction sector affected the fencing and building related activities substantially. On the other hand, Bekaert’s steel wires and strands for overhead power conductors, such as aluminum conductor steel reinforced (ACSR) and aluminum conductor steel support (ACSS) materials that are used as core elements in power transmission and distribution, enjoyed another strong year. The demand for hose reinforcement wire also remained solid in 2012.

While Bekaert’s wire plant in Surrey, Canada, had another difficult year, the ropes business of Bekaert’s Wire Rope Industries Ltd (WRI) in Pointe-Claire performed well in 2012, with robust sales growth as a result of innovation efforts and favorable market developments.
 

Digging into innovation

For many years, WRI has been a major supplier to the surface and underground mining industry in the Americas and around the world. Both with ropes for electric mining shovels and for draglines, WRI has spearheaded the development of ropes that prolong the service life, reduce the equipment downtime, and reduce the mines’ overall operating cost.

One segment of the open pit mining industry is strip mining that uses the worlds’ largest equipment to remove the overburden or dirt covering the ore body. These machines currently operate with bucket sizes up to 200m³ and employ steel wire ropes up to 13 cm in diameter.

We responded to the increasingly demanding requirements by developing Cushion UltraTM, a plastic enhanced rope specifically designed for dragline use.

Back to the core

Two relatively small business activities with operations in North America were divested in 2012:
Bekaert sold its small-scale Clean Enclosed Burner activities to Flare Industries LLC on 5 July 2012. Bekaert’s Industrial Coatings activities were sold to Element Partners in early 2012. The rotatable sputter equipment business of the divested platform included a maintenance activity at Spring Green (US) next to manufacturing facilities in Belgium and China.

Both transactions are a confirmation of Bekaert's strategic focus on activities related to the company's core technological competences in steel wire transformation and related coatings.

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