Harold A Taylor, Jr
DIMENSION STONE ADVOCATE NEWS
Issue No. 21 June – October 2005
The dimension stone outlook for 2005: Overall U.S. dimension stone sales in 2005 are still expected to be strong when compared to 2004; however, the 2005 demand index shows only a 3.5% increase from 2004. Even those that have been no growth or slow growth will be up in 2005: slate (domestic) up 5%, Indiana limestone up 4%, and sandstone up a percent or so. The 2005 index shows that granite countertop sales should be up 5% from 2004, at least marginally stronger; this suggests trimming back our observers' estimates for 2005 granite countertop sales to up 15% from 2004. The 2005 demand index for granite and marble tile is up 3% from 2004. The trimming back is partly the result of having such a strong 2004; "how can you top this?" The trimming back is also partly a function of a conservative estimating process based on limited data; the 2005 numbers will probably rise as data gets more complete.
Later outlook survey: The DSAN observers reporting so far are giving outlooks (mid-year by firm) very similar (i.e., positive) to those they gave in the February-March 2005 canvass.
New readers of DSAN should also check the cover for "Early-Bird" Outlooks and "Late-Bird" Outlooks, and the large body of information built up in the back issues, Issues 1 to 20. Our Italian readers will hopefully find the new bilingual statistical tables more helpful.
The 2005 indexes are very preliminary.
The indexes are based on wholesale-level prices, the Customs Value in dollars per tonne at the (foreign) point of origin. These trends are only general; the situation will vary with different colors or patterns. The prices will be evaluated in the next Outlook (Issue 22).
See article on granite countertops: Consumer Reports, August 2005, p. 24-25. More later.
The Carrara Marmotec 2005 show had a variety of interesting seminars, including one on the outlook for U.S. dimension stone. The pavilions and large stands included a heavy representation of Middle Eastern stone producers: Egyptian, Iranian, Moroccan, and Turkish. Stones in all colors of the rainbow in an infinite number of patterns were seen, including a new labradorite from Madagascar, a golden yellow with white patterned alabaster from Egypt and an orange and white quartzite from Brazil.
IMM Carrara has set up a search engine at www.isicentry.com with exhaustive data banks on companies (names, addresses, products), materials (name, kind, origin, a photo, and chemical and physical properties), and bibliographies searchable by content (abstracts available).
The April-June 2005 Universal Stone gave some dimension stone employment numbers for various nations: China 6 million, India 5 million, pre2004 European Union 220,000, Brazil 115,000; the world total is around 18 million.
ARCHITECT'S STONE SELECTION HELPER: This is the first appearance of a listing of large stone photo caches on the internet. This will allow an architect to immediately make a preliminary winnowing out of desired stones by color and appearance; photos and samples of the most likely stones can then be obtained. This feature will be expanded and elaborated in future issues. The reader should also examine the ASTM C1528 Standard Guide for Selection of Dimension Stone for Exterior Use. The photo caches:
Statistical Parameters: Foreign-U.S. Dimension Stone-related Competitiveness: European: Euros per U.S. dollar (average); 0.94 in 1999, 1.09 in 2000, 1.12 in 2001, 1.06 in 2002, and 0.89 in 2003; 0.84 in 4Q 2003, 0.80 in 1Q 2004, 0.83 in 2Q 2004, 0.82 in 3Q 2004, and 0.77 in 4Q 2004. Canadian: Canadian dollar per U.S. dollar (average); 1.48 in 1998, 1.49 in 1999, 1.49 in 2000, 1.55 in 2001, 1.57 in 2002, and 1.40 in 2003; 1.32 in 4Q 2003, 1.32 in 1Q 2004, 1.36 in 2Q 2004, 1.31 in 3Q 2004, and 1.22 in 4Q 2004. These International Monetary Fund statistics show that foreign producers selling in Euros have had a steady situation in late 2003 and for most of 2004, except for a drop in 4Q 2004. They continue under pressure from the strong Euro. The Canadian dollar stayed unchanged compared to the U.S. dollar in late 2003 and in most of 2004, except for a similar 4Q drop, so producers selling in Canadian dollars also had a steady situation.