NZMEA Survey - October 2016

7 December 2016

The latest New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association (NZMEA) Survey of Business Conditions completed during November 2016, shows total sales in October 2016 decreased 6.81% (year on year export sales decreased by 20.72% with domestic sales increasing by 20.14%) on October 2015.

In the three months to October, export sales decreased an average of 7.0%, and domestic sales increased 13.9% on average.

The NZMEA survey sample this month covered NZ$288m in annualised sales, with an export content of 56%.

Net confidence rose to 42, up from -23 in September.

The current performance index (a combination of profitability and cash flow) is at 98, up from 94.3 last month, the change index (capacity utilisation, staff levels, orders and inventories) was at 101, up from 99 in the last survey, and the forecast index (investment, sales, profitability and staff) is at 105.5, up on the last result of 102.33. Anything over 100 indicates expansion.

Constraints reported were 63% markets, 16% skilled staff, 10.5% capital and 10.5% production capacity.

A net 5% of respondents reported a productivity decrease for October.

Staff numbers decreased 1.29% year on year in October.

Supervisors, tradespersons, managers, professional/scientists and operators/labourers reported a moderate shortage.

“Export sales continued their downward trend also experienced in September, with October export sales decreasing 20.72% on October 2015, with an average year on year decrease of 7% in the three months to October.  Taking a longer view, export sales have been flat at an average year on year monthly decrease of 0.3% over the last 12 months.” Said Dieter Adam.

“Domestic sales again saw better results, increasing 20.14% on October 2015, and continuing the recent positive streak, with an average year on year growth of 13.9% in the three months to October.  Domestic sales have held a positive trend, with an average year on year monthly increase of 5.4% over the last 12 months.

“Despite the fall in export sales, confidence and all three index measures, performance, forecast and change, all improved on September.  Market conditions remain the largest reported constraint to growth.  Reported profitability has been trending downwards throughout 2016 for manufacturers. 

“The recent challenges for exporters reported in our survey was also reflected in the latest Overseas Merchandise Trade numbers from Statistics New Zealand for October.  Export values for mechanical machinery and equipment decreased 7% on the previous month, and saw a decrease of 15.62% compared to October 2015.  Electrical machinery and equipment exports improved 2.8% on the previous month, but felt a decrease of 13.59% on the same month last year.  In the last three months, exports sales for both these categories have been well below the average experienced in the previous year.

The exchange rate was again commented on as a risk to many respondents, while some did see opportunities in the Australian market. We need a renewed focus on improving export outcomes for these high value added export activities, particularly if we are to reach our goals of increasing exports to 40% of GDP.” Said Dieter.