Houston — US steelmakers were able to mostly brush off automotive-related demand reductions as semiconductor shortages plague automotive OEMs, according to executives during first-quarter earnings calls.
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The executives downplayed the overall impact on steel demand of the shortages even as automakers noted the severity of the issue.
The shortage has even led President Joe Biden to sign an executive order at the end of February looking to address the vulnerabilities of essential goods' supply chains, including semiconductors.
Ford missed its global first quarter production forecast by 17% and expects the loss to widen to 50% in the second quarter, according to the company's Q1 earnings report.
Despite the struggles for automakers, steel mill executives did not seem worried about reduced steel consumption during Q1 earnings calls in recent days. Even with the production losses, steelmakers were bullish on steel demand from automakers.
Cleveland-Cliffs which generated 33% of sales in Q1 from the automotive sector, said it was not seeing much of an impact on shipments.
"We have been running our coating lines at full capacity in response to outstanding demand and are restarting our Columbus Coatings galvanizing line," said Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves.
Nucor CEO Leon Topalian noted the struggles of the automotive sector: "The shortage of semiconductors, severe weather impacts and other issues have hurt recent production volumes in the auto market," and expected those difficulties to continue into the third quarter.
"Even with these disruptions, our mills have been running full-out to satisfy customer requirements from the auto sector," Topalian said during the company's first quarter conference call. "With low automotive inventories and strong demand for light vehicles, he expected the auto sector will be "running hard to get caught up with the demand for at least the rest of the year."
Steel Dynamics Inc. CEO Mark Millett anticipated a slight negative impact in automotive output in 2021 but cited no drop in SDI's shipments to automotive end-users: "All I can say is through our lens – and it's quite fortuitous, I guess – but the plants that are down are not ones that we supply."
US Steel CEO David Burritt also shared remarks about semiconductor issues during its earnings call: "This has gotten some global attention in terms of making the improvements, but for our business, and where we see ourselves now, we're in a good place."