Interview with Josh Spoores: Another Steel Analyst Breaks Free

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Not only do we keep our eyes on the steel market, we like to keep tabs on other analysts in the metals sphere that conduct and publish their own research. One such up-and-comer is Josh Spoores, former market research manager at Majestic Steel USA in Cleveland, who has struck out on his own as an independent analyst. Majestic is a service center specializing in flat rolled products; Spoores now focuses on economic indicators and other hard data for myriad steel products in publishing periodic reports on his website, Steel Reality.

So why leave Majestic to be on your own?

“I felt I had a good feel for the market, and I wanted to provide an independent view without any perceived bias, Spoores told me in an interview. “I also wanted to create independence for myself, he added.

Spoores launched Steel Reality in early January of this year, and publishes a weekly report every Tuesday titled “This Week in Steel, as well as “Leading Steel Indicators, which comes out every three weeks. He began by offering packages through the subscriber model, a tried-and-true way for customers to access a valuable product.

A big part of the vision for the site and the business began after Spoores left Majestic. After he stopped producing the Spoores Report — a “high-level overview of the markets — for his former company, he realized that customers at the mills, banks, and investment houses really wanted something different.

“I wanted to provide data on a timely manner, more of a SWOT analysis with a forward looking view, he said. “It gives some ammunition to people on the sales team or the buyers to know what’s happening in the market.

For example, he tracks not only the ISM’s domestic PMI, but also their Steel Buyer’s Forum, in addition to port traffic figures and end-use segments of the market. However, “forward-looking does not, in Steel Reality’s case, mean price forecasting and indeed, much of the compilation in the reports leaves more to be desired in the way of price predictions and specific data extrapolation. A sample sentence from “Leading Steel Indicators”: “This information is to assist buyers in how much of an inventory position they need to take, rather than speculate what prices will do over the next week or so.”

Even so, Spoores has maintained his contacts from his time at Majestic, and is tapping into social networks like LinkedIn to get the word out. Although he is targeting an audience very much like the one he was serving before the mills, other service centers, banks Spoores envisions growing his site to include other services, such as deeper analysis and consulting. In a quirky promo bid, he’s even offering free iPads to subscribers who sign up to get his reports before Feb. 28.

“I was given an iPad around the holidays, and I love it, he said. But, he realized that “receiving information like Steel Reality reports and using the multimedia functions [on a tablet] is something people want. (It’s certainly an interesting topic in economics circles right now.)

Ultimately, Spoores will continue to put a premium on hard data to guide buyers’ future decisions, rather than conjecture or opinion, he said. For now, he is the one-man band behind the site (with some outside help), and we’ll see if the steel analysis sphere has room for one more voice.

–Taras Berezowsky


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