Sharp Decline in Chemicals Sales Prospects

The latest Supply Chain Trends Survey from the Chemical Business Association (CBA) reveals a sharp decline in both order books and sales with current and future sales margins turning negative. Employment levels remain in positive territory though at a lower level than the last survey. The CBA’s latest on-line Trends Survey was conducted from 5-16 November 2018, and is based on responses from 56 member companies.

The Supply Chain Trends Survey asks companies to provide information on order books, sales, sales margins, and employment, on a ‘better–worse–same’ basis. To measure short-term trends, the analysis ignores responses answering ‘same’ and focuses on the positive or negative balance provided by the difference between the ‘better-worse’ responses.

Current order books – Significant decline

Members are asked if their order books are better, worse, or the same than during the previous three months. The November survey shows a positive balance of +14%, a significant decline from the positive balance of +32% reported in June 2018.

Sales volumes – Current sales decline; future sales lose momentum

Respondents are asked to compare their current sales volumes with the preceding three months and indicate their expectations for the next three months. Current sales volumes show a reduced though still positive balance of +7% – sharply lower than three months ago (+27%). Future sales trends, whilst remaining positive, continue to lose momentum at +9% – a reduction from the +17% reported in the last survey.

Sales Margins – Current and future sales margins turn negative

Companies are asked to compare their current sales margins with the preceding three months and forecast their trend over the coming three months. Current sales margins have moved into negative territory (-11%) compared with the +8% reported in the last survey. Respondents forecast sales margins will remain negative over the next three months generating a balance of -7%.

Employment – Still positive, but weaker

Member companies were asked if their employment levels would be higher, lower, or remain the same over the next three months. Trends for employment remain positive at +16%, but weaker than the +28% reported in June 2018.