SCHN 2017 Annual Report

SCHNITZER STEEL INDUSTRIES, INC. 6 / Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc. Form 10-K 2017 AMR responds to changes in selling prices for processed metal by seeking to adjust purchase prices for unprocessed scrap metal in order to manage the impact on its operating income. The spread between selling prices and the cost of purchased material is subject to a number of factors, including differences in the market conditions between the domestic regions where unprocessed scrap metal is acquired and the areas in the world to which the processed materials are sold, market volatility from the time the selling price is agreed upon with the customer until the time the unprocessed material is purchased, and changes in the estimated costs of transportation to the customer's facility. We believe AMR generally benefits from sustained periods of rising recycled scrap metal selling prices, which allow it to better maintain or increase both operating income and unprocessed scrap metal flow into its facilities. When recycled scrap metal selling prices decline for a sustained period, AMR's operating margins typically compress. The sales prices for auto parts from salvaged vehicles are deeply discounted from prevailing national new and refurbished sales prices offered at full-service auto dismantlers, retail car parts stores and car dealerships. Our stores provide a list price, available at each location and online. Prices for autobodies sold to third parties and for major component parts, such as engines, transmissions, and alternators sold to wholesalers, are based on prevailing scrap market rates which differ by region and are subject to market cycles. Prices for catalytic converters sold to third-party processors are based on prevailing market rates for the extracted metals. By consolidating shipments of component parts and autobodies, we are able to optimize prices by focusing on larger wholesale customers that pay a premium for volume and consistency of shipments. Markets Global production of finished steel products drives demand for materials used in the steel-making process, including ferrous recycled scrap metal which is the primary feedstock used in EAFs and can also be used in blast furnaces to manufacture steel. AMR exports ferrous recycled scrap metal primarily to countries in Asia, the Mediterranean region and North, Central and South America. Ferrous exports made up approximately 70% of AMR's total ferrous sales volume in fiscal 2017, 2016, and 2015. In fiscal 2017, the combination of improved U.S. and global economic growth and lower Chinese steel exports driven by higher domestic demand and reductions in less efficient steel-making capacity contributed to improved demand and prices for ferrous recycled scrap metal. We believe long-term demand for recycled metals will continue to be driven by factors including global economic growth and an increased focus on environmental policies promoting natural resource conservation, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and lower energy costs. We believe the significant environmental benefits and production efficiencies associated with EAF steel-making, which uses scrap metal as a primary rawmaterial, compared to blast furnace steel-making, which primarily uses iron ore mined from natural resources, will positively contribute to worldwide long-term demand for ferrous recycled scrap metal. Nonferrous exports made up approximately 60% of AMR’s total nonferrous sales volumes in fiscal 2017, 2016 and 2015. China and the U.S. have been the largest sales destinations in the nonferrous markets, unlike the ferrous market which is highly diversified with no single country other than the U.S. being the dominant destination for our products from year to year. Distribution AMR delivers recycled ferrous and nonferrous scrap metal to foreign customers by ship and to domestic customers by barge, rail and road transportation networks. Cost efficiencies are achieved by operating deep water terminal facilities in Everett, Massachusetts; Oakland, California; Tacoma, Washington; and Providence, Rhode Island, all of which are owned, except for the Providence, Rhode Island facility which is operated under a long-term lease. We also have access to deep water terminal facilities at Kapolei, Hawaii and Salinas, Puerto Rico through public docks. AMR's deep water terminals enable us to load ferrous material in large vessels capable of holding up to 50,000 tons for trans-oceanic shipments. Additionally, because we own most of the terminal facilities at which we operate, AMR is not normally subject to the same berthing delays often experienced by users of unaffiliated terminals. We believe that AMR’s loading costs are lower than at terminal facilities operated by third parties. From time to time, AMR may enter into contracts of affreightment, which guarantee the availability of ocean going vessels, in order to manage the risks associated with ship availability and freight costs. Our nonferrous products are shipped in containers, which hold 20 to 30 tons, from container ports and rail ramps located in close proximity to our recycling facilities. Containerized shipments are exported by marine vessels to customers globally and domestic shipments are typically shipped by rail or by truck. AMR sells used auto parts from its self-service retail stores. Once customers have pulled desirable parts from the vehicle, we remove other valuable ferrous and nonferrous parts which are consolidated and shipped primarily to wholesale customers by truck. The salvaged autobodies are crushed and shipped by truck to our metals recycling facilities where geographically feasible, or to third-party recyclers, for shredding.