The production of machinery for different industries represents a strong specialisation of Italy with the largest contribution to its commercial balance. The aim of the paper is to highlight the performances of this sector during the 2000-2004 period characterised by a negative trend. The study carried out through the financial analysis of a sample of 503 firms shows a general good capability to manage the challenges coming from declining demand in Italy and Europe, new competitors and the growing Chinese and Indian markets. Nevertheless a decline in the returns indicators, the firms have been able to preserve a financial equilibrium as showed by a medium technical rating. Better performance has been experienced by some sectors less affected by the Asiatic competition in the client industries in Europe: on the contrary textile and shoes machinery suffered because the declining production of European textile/ clothing and shoes industries. At the dimensional level the paper highlights the worst results of micro-firms, more dependent from domestic demand, while largest companies have been able to follow markets' dynamics around the world. In this sense the concentration process observed in the Italian machinery industry must probably go on in order to strengthen the competitive capacities of the sector as a whole.