Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Looking to The Rising Sun for answers

I'm preparing for a trip to Japan next week where I will be presenting my mid-year report on the industrial laser marketplace. Because my PowerPoint slides will be shown in Japanese, they were submitted for translation several weeks ago, and therein lies a conundrum- present what I had prepared or, because the market seems to be leaning more towards a slow-down, extemporize – possibly causing the simultaneous translator a migraine.

For months I have reported the strength of the markets served by industrial lasers and touted their ability to overcome downward adjustments that all the experts were predicting. And I still believe this, even though daily news shows softness developing in some of the market stalwarts that have kept sales and revenues at a high level.

At this point in time, the laser system supplier’s books are, for the most part, full for 2011, with backlogs in place into the early weeks of 2012. By all accounts these orders seem secure and I have yet to hear of concerns about cancellations or shipment delays.

My colleague, Dr. Tom Hausken of Strafegies Unlimited, reports that a round of recent West Coast corporate interviews confirmed the "jobless recovery" scenario, seemed to show some market uncertainties and expected flat sales for 2012. Tom and I share a lot of data and therefore I tend to listen more attentively to what he says, even though we have been known to object to each other's conclusions at times. So I'll file away his notes for consideration as I start my 2011 annual report in November.

One thing I intend to discuss with executives of Japanese companies I will meet with next week is how they survived the recent 10 year economic stagnation in Japan. The idea of a similar situation in the U.S. has been floated by some economists and I intend to see how such an occurrence might impact the dynamic laser market.

Stay tuned for my Japan report in a couple of weeks.

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