A major new study produced for the Marble Institute of America (MIA) takes an intimate look at how the international natural stone industry will fare over the next five years, including potential trends in mergers and acquisitions, growth potential, capital spending, the perception of U.S trade policies and more.

Conducted and compiled for MIA by the Hudson Economics Group, Ltd. (HEG), this important new study follows another major industry study conducted five years ago, also by HEG, said Gary Distelhorst, Executive Vice President and CEO of MIA.

“This new study, called the 2010 Survey of the Natural Stone Industry, can be a powerful resource for quarriers, distributors and fabricators as they ponder future directions of the business,” Distelhorst said. The survey, based on hundreds of personal interviews, is now available from MIA for $500 per copy.

“One of the most compelling things about the study is the diversity of opinion on U.S. trade policy around the world,” said Lloyd Henry of the Hudson Economic Group. “It is also interesting to note the number of companies which are planning to spend capital in this year and the next five years.”

“Obviously, the dynamics of the global stone industry have changed over the past five years, especially with China emerging as a major player in the stone supply arena,” Distelhorst said. Five years ago, he noted, the survey pointed to the Euro as a currency that offered hopes for a quick return on investment.

“Those days have come and gone,” the survey summary states. “The Euro is in trouble, in the short term. However, it seems as though the dollar is still holding its own, when measured against the other currency values.”

The summary cautions that the Chinese Yuan may soon start escalating in value, thereby making purchases from China more expensive. The possibility bears watching.

With currency values always changing, and the industry heavily based on foreign imports of stone, the summary suggests that it may make sense for stone industry companies to actually develop policies on stone in relation to currency values, which could give companies a competitive advantage.

The survey focused on respondents in Asia, Central America and the Caribbean, Europe, North America and South America, and there are sections on each of the geographic areas. In North America, for instance, almost 55% of the respondents said they were affected by currency exchange rates, while 58.3% said that American trade policies were “average,” and 18.3% rated them as “good.”

A majority (62.5%) of North American respondents said they would be investing in their companies in 2010. Almost a third said they were unsure about the investments, and 21.7% said they would be buying equipment. Roughly that same percentage of one out of five listed potential investments in property and human resources.

“There are a lot of people planning to spend this year, which may indicate the recovery for the industry,” the survey said.

The survey can be ordered online at www.marble-institute.com or by calling MIA at 440-250-9222.