Slowing economies around the world and the US-China trade conflict pushed sales for Chinese plastics equipment maker Haitian International Holdings down 15% in the first half of the year.
The Ningbo-based company, China's largest maker of injection moulding machines, said in an 26 Aug earnings report that sales dropped 14.8% to just a little more than Yuan5bn (€630m) in the six months ending 30 June, down from almost Yuan5.9bn (€743m) in the first half of 2018.
"We remain cautious and less optimistic about the prospects of China and the global economy in the second half of 2019," Haitian said.
It's the biggest sign of softness, but not the only one, in earnings reports in China's plastics sector.
Other machinery makers and an export-oriented injection moulding company also reported sales declines in mid-year financial reports filed with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Haitian, which is also one of the world's largest makers of injection machines by sales, said it felt the drop the most in the domestic Chinese economy.
Sales within China fell 20%, to just over Yuan3.3bn (€414m), while exports only fell by 2%, to Yuan1.5bn (€200m).
It pointed to slowing demand in the Chinese auto market and lower exports of things like household appliances as hurting investor confidence in manufacturing.
"With the increasing uncertainty of external demand due to the trade war, the purchasing managers' index for China's manufacturing sector in the first half of the year hovered around 50, indicating the decline in demand in China's market resulting from the lack of domestic consumption," Haitian said.
The one bright spot was in its Zhafir all-electric machines, where sales rose 13.6% to 773 million yuan €97m). It said that reflected strength in end markets that need to upgrade technology.
Outside of difficulties in China, the company pointed to softness in the U.S. economy, uncertainty caused by the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, and closer to home, trade tensions between Japan and South Korea that have hurt other economies in Asia.
"Many factors have shown that the global economy is highly uncertain and is exposed to possible downside risks," Haitian said.
Other Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong were reporting soft results.
Hong Kong-based plastics machinery maker Chen Hsong Holdings Ltd. said sales were down 2%, to HK$1.63bn (€187m) in the six months ending 31 March and did not expect any improvement.
"The group believes that the market conditions in China will continue to be lackluster in the near future over uncertainties over the trade war with USA," it said. "International markets will also feel the dark pressure of USA unilateralism, making any predictions unreliable."
As well, Hong Kong-based injection moulder and mould maker TK Group, which is heavily export dependent, said sales were down 2% in the first half to HK$1 billion (€114m), as trade tensions slowed orders.
It said it was looking to build or buy an injection moulding factory in Southeast Asia, as the global companies it makes parts for seek to diversify their supply chains outside China.
But firms in other sectors in China's plastics industry reported better results. The country's largest plastic pipe maker, China Lesso Group Holdings Ltd., said sales rose 6.6 percent to 11.1 billion yuan (€1.35bn).
It noted macroeconomic challenges in China's economy, like the trade conflicts, but said infrastructure upgrades were still fuelling solid growth in its business, which is almost entirely within China.