Archive | Steel & Tube

Steel & Tube owns up to mesh label & testing guilty pleas

After revelations in news outlets this morning that Steel & Tube Holdings Ltd had pleaded guilty – in August – to 24 charges of making false & misleading representations about its seismic mesh products, the company issued a statement to the NZX confirming the guilty pleas.

The company set out numerous dates concerning testing, logos & methodologies, but didn’t mention that it had gone from co-operating with the Commerce Commission to guilty pleas over 3 months ago. It will be sentenced in March.

Steel & Tube interim chief executive Mark Malpass said in today’s statement to the NZX: “On 7 June 2017, Steel & Tube confirmed that the Commerce Commission had filed charges against the company under the Fair Trading Act in relation to 500E grade seismic mesh. The charges in regards to compliance with the testing standard for seismic mesh relate to the application of testing methodologies only, not the performance characteristics of the seismic mesh.

“12 charges relate to the inadvertent use of a testing laboratories logo at the bottom of the test certificates of SE62 mesh. Steel & Tube acknowledged the mistake in March 2016 and immediately removed the logo.

“The remaining 12 charges relate to the application of testing methodologies in the applicable standard, not the performance characteristics of the mesh.

“Steel & Tube has been co-operating with the commission to reach an appropriate resolution of the charges and has entered guilty pleas to the charges.

“Steel & Tube takes quality & compliance very seriously and, since April 2016, the company has had external accredited laboratories testing seismic mesh. The company has also taken significant steps to enhance its quality & product assurance systems.

“These charges relate to historical matters that are before the courts and the company cannot comment further.”

Others too

As if to make itself look not so bad, Steel & Tube added: “The commission has previously confirmed it has filed charges against 2 other companies in relation to false & misleading representations about seismic mesh. The commission has also said previously that it expected to lay charges against one other company, and that investigations continued into another.”


Steel & Tube also added some background – which, through this 2-year episode, has made the company look less bad, even good, for its proactive approach.

Mr Malpass said: “There were significant interpretational issues with the standard for testing seismic mesh. The ambiguities in the standard led to Steel & Tube calling for a Government/industry review of the testing standard and, in November last year, the clarification that Steel & Tube had sought was issued by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Enterprise.

“Clarification of the standard gives all seismic mesh manufacturers & sellers certainty regarding how seismic mesh is to be tested to ensure it complies with the standard. It also gives building owners reassurance that all seismic mesh will now be tested in the same way.”

Earlier stories:
8 June 2017: Updated: Commission files 29 charges against Steel & Tube over mesh
8 April 2016: Steel & Tube undertakes dual mesh testing
5 March 2016: Suppliers recheck as commission questions steel mesh, ministry not worried

Attribution: Company release.

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East Tamaki property sold as Steel & Tube rings in changes

The exit door has been swinging at Steel & Tube Holdings Ltd, and the departures now include property.

Interim chief executive Mark Malpass said in September the board had determined to test the property market, putting its East Tamaki distribution centre up for sale, and on Friday he said the company had accepted an unconditional offer.

“At the heart of any change is recognition that we are a company that provides steel solutions, not a commercial property company. A sale & leaseback would release capital, improving the efficiency of our balance sheet, while still reflecting the importance of the property through favourable lease terms,” Mr Malpass said in September.

On Friday he said the company had signed an unconditional agreement to sell its 68 Stonedon Drive property for $32.577 million on a sale & leaseback basis. The transaction will be completed on 20 December.

That followed a statement from new chair Susan Paterson at the annual meeting on Thursday, that the company believed it could use funds from the sale to generate a better return for shareholders: “Steel & Tube intends to apply the sale proceeds to repay debt and strengthen its balance sheet. This positions the company well for future growth.”

Mr Malpass said the sale didn’t change the earnings guidance the company gave on Thursday – half-year earnings before interest & tax (ebit)) down $9-10 million, but restored in the second for full-year ebit “materially the same” as for the year just gone, which was $31.1 million.

In the first half of the 2018 financial year the company has seen margin pressures from higher steel purchase prices, which the market took some time to pass on to customers. The company has increased selling prices across its portfolio of steel products from mid- November and expects margins to improve in the second half of the financial year.

Mr Malpass said recent changes to the senior executive team were also bringing a fresh focus and, together with the board, he was targeting a turnaround of poorly performing business units and efficiency gains through a change programme.

Ms Paterson told the annual meeting: “Our strategy is to maximise value for our shareholders by creating a sustainable, long-term, successful business. The capital investment made into acquisitions & the business in the past 5 years has created a strong platform for Steel & Tube. However, we are very aware that the company has been too slow to realise the significant benefits & value from these.

“Management & the board are focused on resetting the performance of the business and delivering a sustainable improvement in financial performance, and we expect Steel & Tube to be a significantly stronger business in 12-24 months.”

The board has identified 2 key goals – to provide superior value to customers and to simplify the business. Among guidance points:

  • Half-year ebit is expected to be impacted by working capital review, reorganisation & restructuring activities, increased depreciation costs for a new ERP (enterprise resource planning) system and the slow response by the industry to margin pressures arising from increased costs of supply. Steel & Tube announced price changes to take effect from mid-November in response to market cost pressures
  • The recent implementation of the new ERP system is a key enabler now available to the business and has helped assist management with a review of slow-moving inventory
  • About half the expected decrease in half-year ebit is due to an anticipated writedown of inventory
  • Excluding the one-off inventory valuation adjustment included in the half-year earnings guidance, full year EBIT for the 2018 financial year is expected to be materially the same as the 2017 financial year EBIT of $31.1 million, as the impacts from recent price changes and the benefits of change actions are realised.

The change programme, to enable the company to maximise the value of investments made over the last 5 years, includes:

  • The realignment & simplification of Steel & Tube businesses into 2 streams (distribution & infrastructure), including the integration of acquired businesses
  • Delivering sustainable earnings growth and leveraging the value from the recent capital expenditure programme, including the new ERP system
  • Strengthening the company’s capital structure, including optimising the supply chain and review of the company’s property portfolio
  • Reviewing working capital with a focus on surplus slow-moving inventory items; and
  • A continuing focus on quality, health & safety and the environment.

 Attribution: Company releases, annual meeting speechnotes.

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Steel & Tube performance dissatisfies new chair

Steel & Tube Ltd went close to last year’s pretax & after-tax earnings in the year to June, but new chair Susan Paterson said a number of external & internal factors took the final result below the high expectations the company had set for itself.

Ms Paterson took over as chair from Sir John Anderson in January.

The company said on Friday its revenue was $511.4 million ($515.9 million in 2016), earnings before interest & tax (ebit) was $31.1 million ($30.5 million) and net profit after tax was $20.0 million ($25.8 million). It improved the bottom line with $35.7 million of revaluation (nil last year), minus $2.9 million of deferred tax.

After excluding the non-recurring gain of $6.3 million on the sale of property in 2016, this year’s ebit was up 2% and profit was up 3.1%.

Basic earnings/share were 22.4c (28.9c), diluted 22.3c (28.9c).

Chief executive Dave Taylor said the increased profit reflected positive contributions from $80 million of strategic acquisitions over the last 4 years and a continuing focus on margin management & cost efficiencies. Several of the group’s businesses delivered record or near record revenue & ebit results.

Mr Taylor said Steel & Tube had positioned itself to improve: “Along with the rollout of a new ERP system (business process management software) across the business, these initiatives enable a much improved customer offering, reduce costs within the business, improve health & safety and position the company to lift capability and better execute its strategy. Steel & Tube is now in a position where it can gain significant operational leverage from its investments.”

Steel & Tube continues to build on its successful One Company philosophy to add value to customers and create a modern and innovative company that leverages its unique capabilities, including an unrivalled product range and nationwide footprint.

An $80 million acquisition programme over the past four years has seen the stable of Steel & Tube businesses grow, and costs and working capital have increased in line with the company’s expansion. One Company synergies have yielded performance improvements to all parts of the business, noticeably the acquisitions. Cost management continues to be a focus and initiatives in FY17 are enabling some cost synergies to be realised, with further overhead cost savings expected in FY18.

He said the company had the next phase of facility upgrades underway. A purpose-built facility would open in Dunedin this year, and the optimisation of Christchurch facilities into distribution & processing hubs would open this financial year. The leaseback model was proving successful and an opportunity existed to further optimise Steel & Tube’s property footprint.

“The completion of the facility upgrades, and the ERP & other IT initiatives, will end a $32 million capital reinvigoration programme, which, along with the acquisitions, has been funded by operating cashflows & debt. The focus is now on strengthening the balance sheet, including capturing working capital benefits from the company’s significant scale & ERP investments.

“Steel & Tube remains New Zealand’s leading distributor & manufacturer of steel solutions. Our ‘one company’ approach has seen Steel & Tube modernise and become more efficient, with best-in-class acquisitions expanding our offer. Going forward, we will have an increasing focus on initiatives that leverage our unique capabilities and deliver better value to our customers through a more effective supply chain.”

Mr Taylor said Steel & Tube had 2 operating groups – infrastructure & distribution – that operate across 3 sectors: “The construction sector continues to be buoyant, however is intensely competitive, with limited resources in some areas leading to project delays impacting on subcontractors. The manufacturing sector remains resilient, with activity levels approaching pre-global financial crisis levels, and commodity prices continue to firm for the rural sector, leading to increasing payouts, improving confidence & renewed investment.

MSL and S&T Plastics both completed their first full year of contribution, following acquisition in 2016. MSL delivered record revenues & strong ebit.

After investment in S&T Plastics’ plant, it secured about $27 million of contracts, which are expected to run through the 2017 & early 2018 calendar years: “Teething issues with the manufacturing process resulted in higher scrap rates than expected, which reduced 2017 ebit by $2 million. These issues are being addressed and scrap rates are expected to reduce considerably over coming months.”

Steel & Tube completed its acquisition of Composite Floor Decks Ltd last October, and Mr Taylor said the business had performed in line with expectations, even though external project delays had pushed some activity into the new financial year.

Price increases following the uplift in raw material & finished steel prices, and supply chain efficiencies delivered a margin lift of almost 2%.

Mr Taylor said the construction industry remained highly competitive and reinforcing prices were at multi-year lows, reducing margins and impacting on the reinforcing business’s returns.

He said the company continued to work with the Commerce Commission to reach an appropriate resolution regarding the application of testing methodologies for seismic mesh and, as a leading industry participant, supported changes for a more robust regulatory framework: “The company is confident about the performance characteristics of its seismic mesh, and Steel & Tube stands behind its products. Following a group-wide review, quality resources have been strengthened and quality management processes have and continue to be enhanced.

The board has declared a fully imputed final dividend of 7c/share, taking full-year dividends to 16c/share.

Attribution: Company release.

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Steel & Tube ebit slips at year-end

Steel & Tube NZ Ltd said on Friday it expected its full-year ebit (earnings before interest & tax) to fall 10-15% of the 2016 figure.

When the company issued its half-year results in February, it indicated that the full-year result would be consistent with last year’s.

However, chief executive Dave Taylor said on Friday the second half proved more challenging in the final weeks: “We have faced multiple construction & infrastructure project challenges and delays which have been out of our control, coupled with intense competition in the market, leading to tighter margins, particularly in the construction sector.”

Despite falling short overall, however, Mr Taylor said that, excluding last year’s $6.2 million of gains on the sale of property, underlying ebit for the year to June would be 2.5-8% higher.

Attribution: Company release.

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Updated: Commission files 29 charges against Steel & Tube over mesh

Published 7 June 2017, updated 8 June 2017:
The Commerce Commission said on Wednesday it had filed 29 charges against Steel & Tube NZ Ltd for making false & misleading representations about its steel mesh product known as SE62.

Steel & Tube responded, which appears at the foot of this article.

The commission said it had filed the charges in the Auckland District Court under the Fair Trading Act. They relate to conduct between 1 March 2012 & 6 April 2016 and were part of the commission’s wider investigation into steel mesh.

The commission said in today’s release: “The charges allege that Steel & Tube made misleading representations on their batch tags, batch test certificates, advertising collateral & website that SE62 was 500E grade steel, when it was not. The charges also allege that false & misleading representations were made by Steel & Tube that SE62 steel mesh had been independently tested & certified, when it had not. This included using the logo of an independent testing laboratory on SE62 test certificates when the product had not been tested by the laboratory.”

The commission also filed charges this year against Timber King Ltd & NZ Steel Distributor Ltd in relation to false & misleading representations about 500E steel mesh. The commission said these companies had entered guilty pleas and would be sentenced in August. The commission expects to lay charges against one other company, and is continuing its investigations into one more company.


The commission began investigating after receiving a complaint on 5 August 2015 raising concerns about the validity of claims being made by 3 companies selling steel mesh in New Zealand. This complaint related to problems with a particular size of 500E mesh, which is ductile steel mesh often used in concrete slabs like house foundation slabs & driveways.

The Australia/NZ standard (AS/NZ 4671:2001) mandates various physical characteristics required of steel mesh, and the testing methods that must be applied during their production. In April & May 2016 the commission entered into enforceable undertakings with 3 companies that ensured 500E grade steel mesh could only be sold once it passed specific stringent testing.

In November 2016 the Government made changes to testing requirements, increasing the number of samples which need to be tested, clarifying how that testing is done and requiring testing be done by internationally accredited testing laboratories. The changes were fully implemented on 30 May 2017.

Steel & Tube responds

Steel & Tube said it had been co-operating with the commission throughout its investigation and was aware of the decision to file charges: “The commission’s charges against Steel & Tube in regards to compliance with the testing standard relate to the application of testing methodologies only, not the performance characteristics of the seismic mesh.

“Steel & Tube is working with the Commerce Commission to reach an appropriate resolution of the charges, however cannot comment further as the matter is before the court. Steel & Tube continues to stand behind its products and, since April 2016, all of the company’s seismic mesh has been tested externally by accredited laboratories.”

Earlier stories:
8 April 2016: Steel & Tube undertakes dual mesh testing
5 March 2016: Suppliers recheck as commission questions steel mesh, ministry not worried

Attribution: Commission release.

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S&T confirms acquisition of Composite Floor Decks

Steel & Tube NZ Ltd completed the acquisition of the business of Composite Floor Decks Ltd on Monday. Composite installs steel floor decking systems.

Steel & Tube chief executive Dave Taylor said the companies had had a relationship since 2005, when Composite’s UK-based parent formed it to service the New Zealand market.

Mr Taylor said Steel & Tube had the licence to manufacture & market ComFlor and the acquisition would enhance its supply chain capabilities, creating an end-to-end process from manufacture through to installation.

The consideration was for an initial $13.25 million and 3 earnout payments of $1 million each if financial milestones are met over the next 2 years.

Attribution: Company release.

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Steel & Tube buys Tata business

Steel & Tube Holdings Ltd said yesterday it intended to acquire Tata Steel International Australasia Ltd on 14 April for $27.5 million in cash.

Tata Steel International, a division of the Tata Steel group, is the leading supplier of stainless steel, engineering steels & composite floor decks to the New Zealand & Pacific Island markets. The whole Tata group, based in Mumbai, comprises over 100 operating companies in 7 business sectors.

Attribution: Company release.

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Steel & Tube profit soars but company expects tough conditions to prevail

Published 12 February 2009

Steel & Tube Holdings Ltd increased its net profit after tax for the December half by 143% to $20.8 million, on revenue up 11% to $273.8 million due to the effect of higher steel prices.


Earnings/share increased from 9.7c to 23.6c and NTA rose from $1.33/share to $1.52/share.


The company will pay an interim dividend of 10c plus 4.93c imputation credit, plus a 1.76c supplementary dividend for non-resident shareholders, payable 30 March.

The improved result included a $3.2 million writeoff for trade debtors.Chief executive Nick Calavrias said the improvement came in variable market conditions: “Construction activity overall was down, led by a substantial drop in housing starts. Commercial construction activity, however, did not suffer to the same extent.“The strong demand for our goods & services from the manufacturing sector, that we saw in the last quarter of our 2008 year, continued into the early part of the new financial year. However, we have experienced a noticeable slowdown since November. Demand from the rural communities, however, remained strong throughout.“Although the value of commercial building activity & infrastructure projects was ahead, the volume of building products consumed by this sector was lower once the effect of price increases was taken into consideration. Volume to the manufacturing sector also reduced as the year progressed, although this was partially offset by strong demand from the rural areas.“Global demand for steel in the early part of the year led to substantial shortages, with most products being on allocation by our suppliers. The division’s response to these trading conditions was to withdraw from high-volume low-margin indent business and to be more focused on the higher-margin mix of products.”

Mr Calavrias said the Hurricane Wire business showed significant improvement as a result of the restructuring in early 2008.Inventory was a problem: “Supply volatility for replacement inventory was encountered for most of calendar 2008. In the first half the combination of shortages & higher input costs for steelmaking, such as iron ore, coal & scrap metal, forced the price of steel products up.“However, the supply position improved rapidly in September at the same time as demand for steel began to stall, causing a substantial build-up of inventory on hand, with levels increasing by $46 million in this reporting period. We expect this to be reduced substantially by April and to be at normal operating levels by year end.”Outlook uncertain


Mr Calavrias said Steel & Tube expected tough conditions for some time and lower second-half earnings: “There is considerable uncertainty surrounding the extent & timing of the effect of the global economic slowdown on the economy of New Zealand.The domestic economy has been in recessionary conditions for all of 2008, with the expectation that this will continue for most, if not all, of calendar 2009. Dairy farmers’ incomes for the 2009 year in aggregate are expected to fall by around $3 billion compared with last year, as the price of milk powder retreats from its peak in July 2008.“Construction activity is expected to decline further during 2009. However, with the official cash rate now at the historic low of 3.5%/year, the construction industry could recover more quickly than previously anticipated.“Although exporters will be assisted by the substantial fall of the New Zealand currency, volumes are likely to be subdued until an upturn in global demand returns.“International steel prices & exchange rate volatility have had significant impact on the company’s financial results over recent years. Global demand has stalled, causing steel producers worldwide to cut capacity to match current demand. Although global prices for steel are now in retreat in $US terms, the impact will be softened due to the substantial depreciation of the $NZ.“The Government’s current action to counter some of the effects of the global financial crises, by stimulating the domestic economy through tax cuts and an increase in infrastructure spending, is expected to lessen the impact of the global recession.“In summary, we expect market conditions in the short term to be as tough as we have seen for a very long time, with a good deal of uncertainty, and the deteriorating trading conditions are expected to reduce our second-half result substantially.”


Want to comment? Email [email protected].


Attribution: Company release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Buoyant markets lift Steel & Tube profit 32%

Steel & Tube Holdings Ltd increased its June year after-tax operating surplus by 32.2% to $28.5 million, on revenue up 18.2% to $387.8 million & pretax surplus up 31.5% to $44 million.

Earnings/share rose 31.8%, from 24.5c to 32.3c/share.A 15c final dividend takes the year’s dividend payments to 37c, including the 10c special dividend paid last October.Chief executive Nick Calavrias said the economy proved more resilient than expected. With economic growth up from 4% to 5%, consumer spending remained strong, rural spending was steady & demand from the construction sector was at record levels.

Mr Calavrias said steel sales rose slightly, but the average selling price was down for the first 3 quarters because the strong dollar made imports cheaper.But in the 4th quarter prices for replacement stock rose substantially, due to increased input costs for steelmaking, coupled with the demand-supply curve changing, predominantly due to increased world demand led by China.Steel & Tube’s roofing operations gained from the high demand for new houses, added to a buoyant re-roof market & steady demand for factories & farm buildings.The buoyant construction sector, led by a growing demand from infrastructure spending & a favourable mix of contracts, helped the company’s reinforcing operations to improve reuslts substantially.Mr Calavrias said although the reduction in migrant growth should slow consumer spending & the demand for new housing, commercial construction & infrastructure were gaining momentum. He said the rural sector should also benefit from the increase in world commodity prices.

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Steel & Tube profit up 34%

Steady market expected

Steel & Tube Holdings Ltd increased December half profit 34% to $9 million though sales revenue fell 8.8% to $177.9 million.

The pretax operating surplus increased 20% to $14.26 million, earnings/share rose from 15.4c to 20.5c and a 9c fully imputed interim dividend will be paid.

The result includes trading profits from AJ Forsyth & Co until it was sold in October, profit over book value & disposal costs. Steel & Tube said the sale left it very strong financially.

In its market report, the company said demand for steel & allied products was strong everywhere except Auckland. Steel distribution & processing, metal fasteners and roofing operations improved earnings substantially, but profit from the reinforcing operations were hit by a lack of suitable projects & margin erosion due to competition.

Steel & Tube expects the trading environment to remain steady, with some improvement in Auckland later in the year, and the reinforcing operation should improve in the second half on a favourable mix of forward orders.

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