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ArcelorMittal loses $539 million in third quarter, its second straight quarterly loss

ArcelorMittal's offices at Indiana Harbor in East Chicago. 

ArcelorMittal lost $539 million in the second quarter — its second straight quarterly loss — amid tough market conditions in the steel sector.

The Luxembourg-based multinational steelmaker, one of Northwest Indiana's largest employers, had lost $447 million in the second quarter and turned a profit of $899 million in the third quarter of 2018, as steel prices remained depressed across the globe.

ArcelorMittal lost 53 cents a share in the third quarter that ended on Sept. 30, as compared to a loss of 44 cents in the second quarter of last year and a profit of 89 cents in the third quarter of last year.

"As anticipated, we continued to face tough market conditions in the third quarter, characterized by low steel prices coupled with high raw material costs," ArcelorMittal Chairman and CEO Lakshmi Mittal said. "In these markets, we remain focused on our own initiatives to improve performance and our priority is to reduce costs, adapt production and focus on ensuring the business remains cash-flow positive. We continue to expect a substantial working capital release in the fourth quarter which should enable us to further reduce net debt year on year.”

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The steelmaker pulled in an operating income of $300 million in the third quarter, as compared to an operating loss of $200 million in the second quarter. The company's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization fell 31.6% to $1.1 billion, as compared to $1.6 billion in the second quarter, which the company attributes to seasonally lower steel shipments and lower iron ore shipments.

Steel shipments fell 7.3% to 20.2 million in the third quarter. The company's steel production dropped to 22.2 million tons in the third quarter, down from 23.8 million tons in the second quarter and 23.3 million tons in the third quarter of 2018.

The company's debt grew by about $500 million because of the negative free cash flow partly caused by capital investment.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.