Commodities & Metals

ArcelorMittal Loss Narrows, but Worse Than Expected

ArcelorMittal (NYSE: MT), the world’s largest steel company, reported first-quarter results Friday, and the good news is that loss per share was down both year over year and sequentially. The better news is that worst may be behind the steelmaker.

After hitting a new 52-week low in mid-February, shares doubled by mid-April, before falling off again in May. Shares still traded up about 75% as of Thursday’s close.

ArcelorMittal’s first-quarter EBITDA dropped by 34%. The company attributed the decline to a 7.2% decrease in average steel selling prices in the quarter. Volumes were higher, however, and cost savings also figured into the report.

Chairman and CEO Lakshmi Mittal said:

Our results for the first quarter reflect the very tough operating conditions in the second half of 2015. Since that time we have seen a recovery in spreads in our core markets to more sustainable levels, which is expected to result in improved results in the coming quarters. This is a welcome development, although given the levels of excess capacity in China the market remains fragile and we must continue to be vigilant and active against the threat of unfair trade.

In the fourth quarter of 2015, ArcelorMittal posted a net loss of about $6.7 billion, primarily on impairment charges related to its iron ore business and its steel inventory levels.

ArcelorMittal completed a $3.2 billion rights offer during the quarter. The company also launched two tender offers with the proceeds, but neither was a smashing success with bondholders, who were satisfied to be getting a return on their investment in a European bond market where negative interest rates were becoming more common. According to a report at Bloomberg, the two offers resulted in tenders worth about $1.15 billion.

The company’s stock received three upgrades in mid-April partly on the strength of a recovery in steel prices and partly on its efforts to dress up its balance sheet. Still, the first quarter net loss of $416 million was worse than the consensus estimate for a loss of $319 million, but considerably better than the $756 million loss in the first quarter of 2015.

Shares traded down about 2% in Friday’s premarket, at $5.21 in a 52-week range of $2.93 to $11.95. The consensus price target is $5.23.

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