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U.S. Steel nearly triples annual profit to $1.1 billion

U.S. Steel's Gary Works facility is shown. The steelmaker made $1.1 billion in 2018.

U.S. Steel made $1.115 billion in profit last year, nearly triple the $387 million it made the previous year but short of analysts' expectations.

The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker, one of Northwest Indiana's largest employers, benefited from Section 232 tariffs of 25 percent on most imported steel, higher steel prices in the United States and a robust economy.

U.S. Steel reported making $6.25 in profit per share in 2018, up from $2.19 per share in 2017. U.S. Steel made $592 million in the fourth quarter, up from $159 million in the fourth quarter of 2017.

The steelmaker's earnings per share totaled $3.34 in the fourth quarter, up from $1.82 at the same time the previous year.

"We are pleased with both the strong earnings we reported in 2018 and the important progress we made on our strategic objectives," U.S. Steel President and CEO David B. Burritt said. "We are encouraged by the effectiveness of the investments we are making and remain focused on improving our operating and commercial performance to drive long-term value creation for our stockholders."

U.S. Steel made $14.17 billion in sales last year, including $3.69 billion in sales in the fourth quarter.

The flat-rolled segment that includes the Gary Works, East Chicago Tin and Midwest Plant in Portage, made $883 million in earnings before interest and income taxes last year, including $318 million in the fourth quarter. That's up from $811 million in earnings the previous year.

U.S. Steel forecasts its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization will total $225 million in the first quarter of 2019, but that does not account for the impact of fire damage at its Clariton coke-making operations in Pennsylvania. Flat-Rolled EBITDA is expected to be higher year-over-year because of higher selling prices.

The company estimates it has $10.9 billion in assets, including $1 billion in cash. It returned more than $110 million in capital to stockholders last year, including $75 million worth of share repurchases amid a flurry of stock buybacks that followed the corporate tax cuts.

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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.