ArcelorMittal reports lower earnings, cuts profit forecast

2013-08-01T15:30:00Z 2013-08-05T14:12:06Z ArcelorMittal reports lower earnings, cuts profit forecastJoseph S. Pete joseph.pete@nwi.com, (219) 933-3316 nwitimes.com

ArcelorMittal posted a loss of $780 million over the last three months, the fourth straight quarter that the world's largest steelmaker has lost money.

Production and shipments fell on the year because of soft demand and low prices, but the Luxembourg-based company expects that its business will soon turn a corner. The steelmaker expects a stronger second half and sees market outlook improving, but still cut its profit forecast by 8 percent for the full year.

The company reported a loss of 44 cents per diluted share, missing analysts' expectations it would turn a profit in the second quarter. ArcelorMittal lost about half as much – $345 million – in the first quarter.

"The operating environment in the first half continued to be challenging but we have delivered progress in a number of important areas," said Lakshmi Mittal, ArcelorMittal's chief executive officer.

The company has paid down debt and idled operations in Europe, where the economy has been troubled.

Locally, ArcelorMittal has operations in Burns Harbor, East Chicago, Gary and Riverdale and a joint venture in New Carlisle. The company employs more than 11,000 workers in Northwest Indiana alone.

Production in Northwest Indiana fell by about 550,000 tons in the second quarter because of issues with blast furnaces at Indiana Harbor and a labor dispute at Burns Harbor. But company officials said those issues are behind them, and operations are now running ahead of plans.

Revenue fell from $22.5 billion in the the second quarter of last year to $20.1 billion over the last three months. The company had recorded a $1 billion profit in the same period of 2012.

But steel shipments have dipped 1.8 percent to 21.7 million tons, as compared to the same period last year.

The steelmaker expects an increase of 1 percent to 2 percent in steel shipments by the end of the year. But ArcelorMittal now projects earnings before expenses to be at least $6.5 billion for the year, instead of the $7.1 billion it originally predicted.

ArcelorMittal lowered its forecast because of still-weak demand in North America and Europe, lower-than-anticipated coal prices and lower premiums for high-quality iron ore concentrate.

"Although we have revised our full-year guidance, the second half should deliver a clear underlying improvement relative to the second half of 2012, which we believe marked the lowest point in the cycle," Mittal said.

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