The MSCI Metals Activity Report (MAR) is an indispensible monthly analysis of metals shipments and inventories for intelligent strategic and tactical planning. The report’s accuracy and timeliness are respected and widely used throughout the industry as well as by analysts at major banks and the Federal Reserve. None the less, there are naysayers who question the report’s value and validity. Here we tackle the five most common myths about this important member resource.

Myth #1: The Metals Activity Reports are not reliable.

MAR is created, researched and prepared by a highly regarded professional econometrics firm with a record of accuracy and reliability. That firm is responsible for the data collection and analytical methodology used to produce the monthly reports. It meticulously checks and validates the data when submitted, and when it finds errors or inconsistencies, the econometrics firm itself contacts the companies to establish the accuracy of the numbers.

The extensive MAR sample has produced an enviable record for over 40 years running that has followed every business cycle, reliably predicted ups and downs in metals industry cycles, and correlated closely with all the major, most frequently used federally produced economic data. MSCI members who rely on the reports are unanimous in their praise for the Metals Activity Reports, calling them “invaluable” and “fantastic tools.”

Those who participate and those who consistently use the MAR data understand as well that the information is particularly valuable because alongside actual, as reported data, MAR releases seasonally adjusted data to eliminate distortions caused by weather, holidays, the number of shipping days and other effects that occur regularly during the year. This standard, well accepted and often used seasonal adjustment process allows better overall planning whether it be month to month or longer term. It adjusts the MAR shipment data to reveal the business trends that underlie seasonal patterns. December is always a low metals shipping month, for example, while March and August are generally strong. This allows MAR users to confidently compare one given month’s data to any other month.

MAR is the most reliable and accurate place where such a comprehensive aggregate representing the entire service center industry in the United States and Canada is available.

Myth #2: The sample for MAR is not statistically significant.

MSCI regularly adds to the universe of companies that participate in MAR so there is never any doubt about the integrity of the statistical sample. Members do come and go, though infrequently. But there is a rigorous, standardized process of adding and removing companies in the survey. In addition, the data from participants is verified not only as it is reported, but published industry level data is also regularly benchmarked to government and U.S. Census Bureau data to insure it is as accurate and useful as possible.

Myth #3: I don’t need to download the report! I can find the numbers in trade publications!

The information MSCI has historically made available to the press is the most top-level data trends for steel and aluminum in the United States and Canada. The reports available to members provide a far more robust historical data set in 11 product categories. Survey participants get even more: all 26 product categories, a market share analysis, an on order index, and predictions for shipments and inventory six months into the future.

Myth #4: If I participate in the MAR survey, my competitors might see my data!

To closely guard the privacy of participating members, MSCI never sees any of the raw numbers from the individual companies used to produce MAR reports—only the professional econometrics sees the data.

This means that those companies who participate in the MAR research are guaranteed that their data will not only be accurate and consistent, but also kept private and confidential. This in turn means that those who use the MAR reports can be assured of the dependability and accuracy of the reports they receive.

Only survey participants receive an Excel file with their company data as compared with the industry total. This file is distributed to the designated company contact and is locked with a PIN.

Myth #5: My intuition is all I need to make good business decisions.

Because MAR is a uniquely comprehensive industry survey, members quickly learn that their “intuition” or their company shipment tallies may differ from the reported industry results. That, of course, is part of the virtue and utility of an independent, broad-range picture of industry activity. It enables MAR users to spot data and business trends that they would not have been able to pick up on their own. As we know “intuition” is not the same as a fact-based, intelligently evaluated business strategy.

MSCI is justifiably proud of its ability to offer this indispensable management tool to the MSCI community. Very soon you will see the latest in an ongoing series of industry data program improvements including forecasts of the activity in your most critical end-use markets.

Learn more about MSCI’s Metals Activity Report and find out how to subscribe.