Five of Japan’s leading companies with involvement in Powder Metallurgy production recently reported their full year financial results for the period April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017. In line with sluggish growth in Japan’s automotive sector, which is by far country’s largest consumer of PM products, and the slight decline in overall Japanese PM production in 2016 (as reported on Page 18), it was not surprising that most of the companies reported a drop in overall sales.
Mitsubishi Materials Corp. (MMC) saw a further decline in consolidated net sales in the 12 months to end of March 2017, with an 8% drop to Yen 1304 billion ($11.77 billion). Operating profit was down 15.1% to Yen 59 billion ($539 million).
Net sales at MMC’s Advanced Materials & Tools division, which incorporates cemented carbide (hardmetal) tools, structural PM parts and PM bearings, high performance alloy products and superalloys, were reported to have dropped by 8.2% to Yen 143.4 billion ($1.3 billion). Operating profit dropped by 4.2% to Yen 11.7 billion ($90 million). The decline in this division was attributed to lower sales of cemented carbide products in Japan and overseas, as well as lower sales of PM parts to the automotive sector.
Hitachi Chemicals Co ltd, which includes the two main business segments of Functional Materials and Advanced Components & Systems, reported group sales up 1.4% to Yen 554 billion ($5 billion) for fiscal 2016/2017, with net income up 4% to Yen 40.7 billion ($367 million).
The Advanced Components & Systems division, which includes friction products, structural PM parts and PM bearings as well as vehicle batteries, printed circuit boards and diagnostic instruments, reported an increase of 1.6% in sales to Yen 283 billion ($2.5 billion) but with segment profit down to Yen 8.8 billion.
Hitachi Chemicals has PM production sites in North America, Indonesia, Singapore, China and Japan. The company recently reported that it plans to establish European development and production bases with a view to expanding sales into new regions.
Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd (SEI), based in Itami, Osaka, Japan, reported a 4.1% downturn in group sales to Yen 2814 billion ($25 billion) for the financial year ended March 31, 2017. However, group operating income was reported up by 4.8% to Yen 150.5 billion ($1.4 billion).
SEI’s Industrial Materials & Others division is the third largest after the Automotive and Environment & Energy divisions, and includes the production of cemented carbides (hardmetals), PM parts, PM magnets, tungsten, molybdenum, heavy metal, thermal management materials and ceramics, as well as diamond tools and hardmetals produced at the wholly owned A.L.M.T. subsidiary.
The Industrial Materials & Others division saw overall full year sales decline by 2.7% in 2016/2017 to Yen 303.9 billion ($2.7 billion). However cemented carbide (hardmetals) sales increased by 12.7% to Yen 96.5 billion ($868 million) in the 12 months to March 31, 2017, and sales of Powder Metallurgy products increased by 17.9% to Yen 76.1 billion ($685 million) in the same period.
Sales at A.L.M.T. increased by 9.5% to Yen 42.4 billion ($382 million). SEI is forecasting sales for the Industrial Materials & Others division to reach Yen 340 billion ($3 billion) in the full year to March 31, 2018.
Nippon Piston Ring Co Ltd, (NPR) based in Saitama, Japan, manufactures PM products such as piston rings and valve seats used in internal combustion engines, metal injection moulded parts and dental implants. The latter are now produced in a new facility in Tochigi, established in 2015.
NPR reported sales of Yen 52 billion ($469 million) for the fiscal year to March 31, 2017, showing a drop of just 0.2% on the previous year. Net profit was up 18.7% to Yen 2.9 billion ($26 million). NPR has manufacturing facilities in Japan, China, Indonesia, India and the USA.
Fine Sinter Co Ltd, based in Kasugai, Aichi Prefecture, Japan, manufactures a wide range of Powder Metallurgy components for numerous markets including the automotive sector, railroad industry and general industrial machinery applications. Automotive products are said to make up nearly 90% of sales.
Fine Sinter reported relatively flat sales for the fiscal year 2016/2017, down slightly to Yen 38.45 billion ($346 million) compared with Yen 37.48 in the previous year. However, the company saw net income grow by 7.5% to Yen 1.09 billion ($9.8 million). The company has six PM manufacturing facilities, with locations in Japan, China, Taiwan, Indonesia and USA.