Is it my imagination, or is the marketplace for industrial laser processing reports sending out a signal that all is not well in the manufacturing world? In the first half of 2019, 141 companies creating these market reports offered 665 on the seven market sectors we track—an average of 55 'new' reports a month. In the first two months of the second half of this year, only 25 'new' reports showed up on our computer—a 45% drop from the average monthly first-half experience.
First, we use the term 'new' loosely. These report offerings, mainly emanating from the Indian Subcontinent, quite often bear an amazing resemblance to each other. Since we have been tracking these offerings for a half-dozen years or more, we are pretty adept at spotting knockoffs. However, on the assumption that someone less adept might be attracted to purchase more than one of these remarkably similar reports, we take the position that, unless word-for-word similar to one on our 'watch' list, we'll count it as a new resource until proven wrong. We acknowledge the similarity problem, but we have our methods and they work for us.
Secondly, comparing two months of activity to the previous six months might offend statistical purists, but we actually received more than three times the number of reports tracked, and many of these are exact duplicates of previous offerings. So, under our guidelines, we ARE only counting new reports.
OK, why the fuss? Simply, we can look at the pile of 665 offerings next to 26 and think that something must be going on here. One clue was the daily drop in report offerings after the not-so-brilliant last-quarter revenue and performance numbers were posted by the members of the Billion-Dollar Club. One analyst commented on their negative news that this was an overreaction to a previously overheated market. All the Club members placed the cause on a slowing China market, including the member from China. Here at Industrial Laser Solutions, we sort of agreed with the former since we had adjusted our 2019 forecast accordingly in late 2018, but had not factored in the domestic China situation.
All of the 665 reports we tracked were counting on continuing market gains, even the few that offered China market reports.
So, we are wondering if we might have another 'signal' about the 2019/2020 industrial laser market. It might be about as accurate as tossing chicken bones--or not. We are only a few weeks away from compiling the ILS Annual Market Review and after 35 years of doing it, we might start collecting those bones. Or, as the Sundance Kid says to Butch Cassidy when they are preparing to jump from a cliff into a river at the end of that classic film, "I can’t swim!" and Cassidy retorts "Why, you crazy—the fall'll probably kill ya!”