It’s hard to discern a definite trend in the results from our latest half-year survey of custom injection molders. In both 2010 and 2011, the data show molders’ business stronger in the first half and weaker in the second half.
Returns from 72 custom plants at the end of 2011 showed average capacity utilization of just under 56%, down almost three points from mid-year and the lowest since the end of 2009.
The proportion of respondents who increased their utilization in the second half was only 25%, down from 52% in the first half. And 46% of molders saw lower utilization in the second half, vs.
20% in the first half. (A very similar pattern characterized 2010.)
Returns from 90 molders showed no change, or a tiny decrease, in mold orders, the weakest performance since the end of 2009. And the custom molding machine-hour rate index rose only
0.7%—again, the lowest increase since the end of 2009 and about half the rate in three half-yearly surveys since then.
Molders remain optimistic, however. About 58% see improving business conditions ahead, up from 49% at mid-year. However, the pessimists who see worsening conditions also rose to 32% from
17%. The ratio of optimists to pessimists was the lowest in three years.