Even supercalendered paper, currently in short supply, could see declining prices by the middle of 2012, Reel Time Report editor Verle Sutton said in a webinar recorded a few days ago. The webinar, "Price & demand outlook 2012 for newsprint, publication papers", is still available for download from Industry Intelligence.
Sutton’s forecast runs counter to the brave talk coming out of the mills and the more bullish analysis from rival forecaster RISI. He noted that his and RISI’s 2012 price forecasts are as much as $120-per-ton apart. Sutton, always the iconoclast and often spot-on with his predictions, pooh-poohed claims that rising costs for pulp and other items will prevent prices from declining.
“Coated pricing will decline until capacity is removed. By the end of 2012, it is estimated that about 400,000 to 600,000 tons must be shut down [in North America] in order to balance supply and demand,” Sutton said.
Sutton based his prediction partly on the recent surprising weakening in demand during what should be the busiest buying season.
"Since 2000, even those of us who have been relatively pessimistic on the impact of electronic communications on demand have generally underestimated the true impact of the electronic revolution on paper demand. That occurred again in 2011 in a big way."
Sutton also provided insightful commentary on the newsprint market, why prospects for the idled Port Hawkesbury mill are suddenly looking up, the outlook for European exports to North America, and whether North American mills will use coated machines to make supercalendered paper next year. But as someone who respects copyrights (especially since my day job is in publishing), I won’t reveal any more details about the Sutton webinar.
Among the many previous Dead Tree Edition articles that cited Sutton or his Reel Time Edition newsletter are:
- Did Black Liquor Credits Pave the Way for Healthcare Legislation?: Sutton showed why even a climate-change-denying conservative could hate that piece of corporate welfare known as the black liquor tax credits. He wrote extensively and entertainingly about the issue in his now-idle blog, including this gem.
- There's Little Clarity About Some SCA Papers: The newsletter delved into the murky world of mills making coated paper but calling it supercalendered.
- NewPage-Verso Merger Unlikely, 2 Experts Say