The much hoped-for ``bottom'' for U.S. plastics machinery sales did not happen in the first three months of the year, according to new numbers from the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. of Washington.
During the first quarter of 2002, combined U.S. dollar shipments of injection presses, blow molding machines and auxiliary equipment dropped by 23.3 percent, compared with the first quarter of 2001. Extrusion, which only publicly announces totals in units, not dollars, saw a modest single-digit increase.
Washington-based SPI released the first-quarter numbers late, in August, because of changes to the blow molding numbers. The SPI Committee on Equipment Statistics altered the definitions for that sector, to get more accurate numbers. As a result, SPI's news release does not give specifics for blow molding machines for the first quarter.
Last year's first quarter was pretty bad. The new first-quarter report shows that sales continued to skid as 2002 got under way.
Machinery industry observers won't have to wait long for more numbers to crunch, because SPI expects to follow up quickly by issuing its second-quarter report by the end of August, said Lori Anderson, SPI's senior director of economic and international affairs.
Here are first-quarter details:
* Measured by units, injection press shipments declined 28.1 percent from the year-ago first period. The dollar value of the machine shipments fell 32.4 percent.
* Extruders, including single-and twin-screw machines, gained 3.1 percent in unit volume.
* Auxiliary equipment declined 11.3 percent, measured by dollars.
* Shipments of screws and barrels fell 30.8 percent.