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U.S. Steel loses $589 million in second quarter after coronavirus disruption
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U.S. Steel loses $589 million in second quarter after coronavirus disruption

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U.S. Steel lost $589 million in the second quarter, or $3.36 per diluted share.

That's compared to a profit of $68 million, or 39 cents per diluted share, during the same quarter last year.

The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker, whose flagship steel mill is Gary Works, posted an adjusted Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amoritization of $264 million. It has $2.652 billion in liquidity to make it through the coronavirus crisis, including cash of $2.3 billion.

The company's mills have continued to operate but it temporarily laid off hundreds of steelworkers in Northwest Indiana.

“Protecting lives and livelihoods remains our top priority,” U. S. Steel President and CEO David B. Burritt said. “We remain vigilant and continue to actively enforce our COVID-19 protocols, including working from home, where applicable, promoting physical distancing, limiting visitors to our sites, and continuing our enhanced cleaning activities. As a result of this intense focus, COVID-19 cases among our workforce remains significantly better than the general U.S. population.”

U.S. Steel's net sales in the second quarter was $2 billion, down from $3.5 billion during the same period last year.  

“We are encouraged by the recovery in market conditions as automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are nearing normalized production levels and healthy order activity has continued into the third quarter," Burritt said. "Construction demand is exceeding our expectations and is expected to remain robust, particularly for value-add construction products. To ensure we continue to serve our customers, we restarted two blast furnaces to quickly respond to increasing activity and plan to restart an additional furnace at Gary Works on August 1. In Europe, demand is beginning to recover, in-line with the re-opening of the European continent.”

U.S. Steel's flat-rolled division, which includes Gary Works and the Midwest Plant in Portage, shipped 1.79 million tons of steel at an average price of $721 per ton in the second quarter, down from 2.8 million tons at an average price of $779 per ton in the second quarter of 2019.

But volume has been picking back up.

“We exceeded our second quarter guidance as North American Flat-rolled segment shipments meaningfully accelerated in the second half of June, resulting in better than expected production efficiencies and cost benefits across our mines and steel plants," Burritt said. "Still, second quarter performance was impacted by COVID-19 and the nonrecurring costs associated with a significant portion of our steelmaking operations being idled in the quarter. We are encouraged by the accelerating pace of incoming orders across our steelmaking and sheet finishing facilities. While a portion of operating inefficiencies will continue to impact third quarter performance, we are confident that the second quarter was the trough for the year.”

Gary Retail

Gary suffers from retail deserts that force many residents to travel long distances for basic necessities like fresh produce, prescription drugs and clothes. The situation is diminishing quality of life, taking a toll on residents' long-term health and eroding the tax base. After a half-century of decline, retail faces many obstacles in the Steel City like a shrinking population, crumbling infrastructure and government red tape. But many merchants soldier on, and officials have ideas for how to make it easier to keep a business afloat in the city.

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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.

Related to this story

  • Updated

Ford lost $1.9 billion, supplier Lear $294 million, ArcelorMittal $559 million, U.S. Steel $589 million, and BP a whopping, eye-popping $16.8 billion in the second quarter after COVID-19 greatly disrupted daily life and the economy. Ford and Lear temporarily closed their plants in Hegewisch, Chicago Heights, and Hammond. ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel temporarily laid off hundreds of workers in Northwest Indiana as demand dried up overnight, and BP is now proposing job cuts at the BP Whiting Refinery on the Lake Michigan lakefront.

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