New look Constructioneconomics.org – Coming Soon

The change in seasons has invigorated me to make undertake a more structured (and ultimately more useful) approach to Constructioneconimics.org, as I shall expound below:

To start with, you will soon notice some pleasing (and much needed) aesthetic modifications to the site including a new logo (which may or may not look something like the one below that I have just whipped up on Excel in an attempt to generate some interest!), new colours, and an updated theme.

More importantly, I am starting some new mini-projects that will warrant systematic weekly and monthly uploads, namely:

–          Tabulated and visualised share price data relating to UK listed Construction & Materials, Support Services, and Real Estate companies. This will include weekly fluctuation in share price and some nifty visuals. I hope this table will eventually become interactive once I have gained sufficient web coding power!

–          Weekly share price heat maps of the above companies. Again, this will hopefully become interactive after a few months.

–          Company Click – a detailed monthly insight into a selected company, which will include a bio, some visualisations and charts of historic stock performance, speculation on future price and investment ideas.  

–          Interactive map of UK construction – more on this to follow in the coming months (this is rather ambitious undertaking and may take a bit longer to galvanise).

So there you have it. The new features will of course be interposed with the usual visualisations and commentary on interesting construction data and the like. I will tweet about new posts as and when they happen (@guy_beaumont). Any questions or comments are, or course, very welcome.

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UK Constuction Industry Market Analysis Sources

These headlines have become commonplace and reflect the current shabby state of the wider economy and the sentiment of many construction firms. Indeed, many of us can feel the diminution of positive sentiment in our everyday roles but for many firms it seems to be business as usual. The turmoil of the economy means different things to different companies. For some it may even provide business opportunity. So how do we measure the economic health of the whole construction industry with any accuracy?

To answer my own question…..we use the best data available to us.

This post documents some of the sources of data that I use every week to keep track of construction industry trend and sentiment. Much like an investment analyst or trader tracks key data and news feeds relating to the wider economy, particular company performance, or a specific currency pair, I like to keep up to date on the economic health of the industry within which I practice the most. I don’t have multiple screens running stochastic simulations on construction indices but I do take the occasional look at some of data provided by the following sources.

As you will see, I have listed some pros and cons of each source and attempted to assign each a crude score. Comparison is a tricky one – each medium is very different and often serves a unique purpose (how do you compare the ONS to Construction News?) so I have scored them based on four common criteria in an attempt to demonstrate usefulness by highlighting strengths and weaknesses.

These are subjective views and comments are, of course, very welcome.

Structure of the UK Construction Industry – August 2012

It’s been a while since my last post- I have been wholly consumed with work and other obligatory life commitments, but a poor show none the less. So as some kind of recompense, I thought I would take a look at some of the most recently published ONS construction data in some detail and upload some interesting charts.

The rather messy charts below (click on it to enlarge) represent data from the ONS Construction Statistics No. 13, 2012 Edition published 24th August 2012. Let’s start by looking at a snapshot of our industry constituents – total firms by trade and civil engineering firms (the field I work in most) in more detail…..

UK Construction Industry Structure 08/2012

UK Construction Industry Structure 08/2012

It would be interesting to visualise how the industry has changed shape over the years but having read some of the background information, it would seem that any shift would merely represent changes in the registers (the Builders Address File (BAF) pre 2010 and the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) from 2010). It should also be noted that the size of firms will not be entirely accurate – ‘firms’ are recognised as ‘reporting units’ so larger companies may report through a plethora of separate operating companies/regional units/divisions/etc.

The moral of the story…..don’t take all data and statistics at face value, especially summary headlines – context is everything.

Next post I’ll do a summary of the most useful construction industry indicators that I personally use on a monthly basis. Something to look forward to right?! I will try to provide some more interesting visualisations too!

Construction Trade Survey Q2 2012

The latest Construction Trade Survey, published today, makes for bleak reading. The survey reports an industry wide decline across all measures including construction workloads, new orders and tender prices.

A good summary of the latest publication can be found on the Construction Index via the link below:

http://www.theconstructionindex.co.uk/news/view/no-olympic-feelgood-factor-for-construction

These results reiterate the sentiment of recent publications such as Volume of Construction Output and GDP collated by the ONS. Increasing pressure is being applied to the government to ‘enable’ more publically funded construction starts to inject some much-needed stimulus into our dwindling sector andthe UK economy.

Mouchel Share Performance and Rescue Package

Struggling infrastructure and business services group Mouchel recently announced that banks will exchange £87 million of liabilities for a majority stake in the firm as a form of equity swap. This will potentially help to evade insolvency action although, as a result, the group are likely to be delisted from the London Stock Exchange.

Mouchel floated on the Stock Exchange in 2002 and are listed in the FTSE Fledgling. Since spring 2011 share price has consistently fallen as shown the below charts illustrate.  If approved later this month, investors are set to receive a special dividend of just 1 pence per share.

Mouchel Shares August 2010 - August 2012

Mouchel Shares August 2010 – August 2012

 

Interesting Commentry from Noble Francis

While we’re on the subject check out this article by Noble Francis published by Construction News…..

http://www.cnplus.co.uk/home/we-cant-rely-on-osbornes-randomly-generated-numbers/8633645.article?blocktitle=OPINION&contentID=3710

Also, I would highly recommend a subscription to Construction News (if you don’t already have one) – up to the minute, well presented insight into the UK construction industry.

GDP & Construction Output (Q2 2012)

National output shrank by -0.70% during Q2 of 2012 according to seasonally adjusted, provisional figures published by the ONS this week.

 Not a huge surprise given the lack of growth over the last 3 quarters, and the awful weather, but what about the relationship between construction and GDP………here is what the ONS say:

 ‘The seasonally adjusted index of construction output decreased by 5.2 per cent in Q2 2012, following a decrease of 4.9 per cent in the previous quarter. Construction output decreased by 9.7 per cent between Q2 2011 and Q2 2012.’

GDP & Construction Output

GDP & Construction Output

Although we saw weakness in the production and services sectors, the biggest contribution to the shrinking national output appears to be construction (or lack of it) in particular the anticipated decrease in publically funded work coupled with a lack of notable recovery in the private sector (which we hoped would help to bolster overall construction output while the public sector spending dwindle continues).

 The bleak trend was reiterated by The Construction Products Association (CPA) who have downgraded forecasts for the UK construction industry from their spring update; now forecasting a contraction in volume of -4.50% this year and -1.30% in 2013 with recovery starting in the early part of 2014 thanks in part to likely rejuvenation of public sector capital budgets.