StatWatch: Jumping Up In January ‘11

StatWatch is a snapshot of U.S. dimensional-stone imports, offering a summary and exclusive Stone Business analysis of data from the U.S. International Trade Commission. Comparisons are made mainly on an annual level to gauge market trends. Analysis is made on import figures of the latest month available.

All figures give are for January 2011 (change from January 2010 amounts in parentheses). “Worked” stone is material that’s shorn from boulders and blocks, and then cut in standard dimensional measures (such as slabs and tiles) and polished (at least once, one side).
Total: $73.7 million (9.2%)
Sector leader: Brazil @ $32.5 million (14.9%)

Backfill: Brazil remains as the #1 player in U.S. worked-granite imports, providing 44 percent of total import values in January. However, that $32.5 million also represents the sixth straight month of decline from last July’s $44.2 million.
The remainder of granite’s Big Four shows a reasonably good start to 2011 – China at $18.2 million (up 7.8 percent) and Italy at $9 million (up 4.1 percent). India notches a decline from January 2010, but its $8.6-million total for this January is only a 1.6-percent dip.

Total: 126,891 metric tons (54.5%)
Sector leader: Brazil @ 41,881 metric tons (27.9%)


Backfill: When import tonnage increases by half-again for a stone, there’s usually a bogey in the mix; this time, it’s Canada. This is no diss to our friendly neighbors to the North, but the 21,139 metric tons shown for January is a 1,982.7-percent blast-off from January 2010 totals – and not that far behind the 2010 total of  27,568 metric tons Canada sent south.
The hot story for 2011 in granite imports may be the heavy loads of Chinese containers; the January shipment of 41,770 metric tons is a 55.7-percent leap from the previous January, and only 111 metric tons below first-place Brazil. India keeps relatively stable at 11,095 metric tons (down 0.7 percent), while Italy drops 9.1 percent to 5,860 metric tons.

$14.4 million (-4.7%)
Sector leader: Italy @ $6.1 million (7.6%)

Backfill: You can’t say that January is any change from the previous month. Seriously. Both January 2011 and December 2010 are at $14.4 million; at least this January shows less of a 12-month dip than last December.
Along with Italy’s improvement, Turkey offers some good news; its $1.4 million in worked-marble import value is 17.8 percent of last year’s start. Not so for others with U.S. imports of $1-million-plus; China’s $3.7 million is 8.2 percent behind January 2010, and Spain takes a 28.9-percent tumble to $1.3 million.

Total: 13,466 metric tons (-7.0%)
Sector leader: China @ 4,874 metric tons (-18.5%)

Backfill: China retains its lead in worked-marble shipments to the United States, albeit losing a large chunk of margin to Italy; its 3,514 metric tons represents a 9.7-percent increase from January 2010.
Turkey shores up its third-place status with 1,817 metric tons in January (up 28.9 percent), ahead of Spain’s 1,526 metric tons (down 22.7 percent). Spanish exporters don’t need to fear dropping another notch anytime soon; fifth-place Greece shows a 15.8-percent annual gain in January, but with only a total of 249 metric tons shipped to the United States.

Total: $19.7 million (12.0%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ $14.2 million (14.7%)

Backfill: Turkey remains the unchallenged market leader in U.S. travertine imports, whether it’s in value or tonnage. And, while they continue a two-thirds domination of the market here, Turkish producers received some help in lifting values past January 2010 levels.
Mexico improves its second-place position in January 2011 values at $2.6 million, up 2.8 percent from last year’s start. China, meanwhile, boosts its U.S. travertine values by 49.6 percent to $1.1 million, helping to offset the first-month declines of Italy ($654,335, down 12.6 percent) and Peru ($612,368, down 10.1 percent).

Total: 33,759 metric tons (7.1%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ 27,823 metric tons (5.9%)


Backfill: Travertine shipments remain strong, with Turkey taking its usual lead to begin 2011. However, the overall total shows better growth than Turkey’s production alone, indicating some growth in exports from other countries.
Mexico’s 3,235 metric tons in January 2011 offers a 14.8-percent hike from last year’s beginning, but the big boom comes with China’s 1,261 metric tons representing a 54.9-percent rise. Italy’s 468 metric tons in January made for a 34.1-percent gain; only Peru reverses course, with an 18.6-percent decline at 561 metric tons. 

Total: $7.5 million (2.9%)
Sector leader: Italy @ $1.2 million (-22.7%)

Backfill: When the lead country sending a stone to the United States takes a 20-percent-plus tumble in its import value, the entire sector often takes a dive with it. For this non-marble category, however, other suppliers pick up the pace in January.
Portugal, at $1 million, increases its shipment values from January 2010 by 49.3 percent to whip by China and France for second place. France is no slouch either, pumping up the levels of last January by 41.9 percent to reach $856,039; however, that’s only good enough for fourth, as China places third at $954,137 (a paltry 2.4 percent ahead of last year’s level). Other strong gainers in the $500K+ range are Spain ($655,787, up 76.9 percent) and Turkey ($553,697, up 11.7 percent).

8,448 metric tons (-89.9%)
Sector leader: China @ 2,599 metric tons (7.1%)

Backfill: The terrible comparison with January 2010 is the result of the imports of Lebanon; the country made up more than three-quarters of all U.S. other-calcareous tonnage before disappearing from the market last May. So, let’s cut out Lebanon’s 45,365 metric tons from last January, along with a combined 5,802 metric tons in one-month-wonder shipments from the Philippines and India. That brings January 2010 down to 9,148 metric tons, making the difference with this January a more-realistic -7.6 percent.
Along with China’s gains, Italy increases its first-month totals by 19.5 percent to 1,074 metric tons; Spain’s 669 metric tons shows a 11-percent gain. On the down side, consider Portugal (877 metric tons, -6.1 percent), Turkey (589 metric tons, -51.4 percent) and France (494 metric tons, -20.0 percent).

Total: $4.7 million (50%)
Sector leader: China @ $2.0 million (13.2%)

Backfill: China opens up a slightly longer lead on India in January 2011, although that’s due more to the latter country’s 5.5-percent decline (with $1.7 million in import value) from the beginning of last year.
The distant third- and fourth-place shippers of non-roofing slate continue to make good gains. Brazil, at $450,582, moves up 24.7 percent from January 2010, while the United Kingdom’s $243,029 marks a 93.5-percent leap.

Emerson Schwartzkopf

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