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ArcelorMittal posts $3.7bn loss for 2012

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PARIS, Feb 6 AFP

February 06 2013, 6:49PM

ArcelorMittal says it plunged into the red in 2012 with a net loss of 2.75 billion euros ($A3.62 billion), largely due to previously announced writedowns and restructuring costs.

The company, the world's largest steel producer, expects an improvement in 2013.

Operating profit measured by earnings before interest, tax and other charges (EBITDA) fell by 30 per cent to $US7.1 billion ($A6.86 billion), close to analyst expectations.

Chief executive Lakshmi Mittal said in a statement on Wednesday that 2012 was a "very difficult year for the steel industry, particularly in Europe where demand fell a further 8.8 per cent".

The net loss was largely due the $US4.3 billion charge the company took to write down the value of its assets in Europe, where steel demand has fallen by nearly a third since the global economic crisis set in.

The company also took $US1.3 billion in restructuring charges.

ArcelorMittal posted a net profit of $US2.3 billion in 2011.

Sales fell by 10.4 per cent to $US84.2 billion, with shipments of steel down 2.3 per cent to 83.8 million tonnes.

Iron ore shipments rose by 5.4 per cent to 54.4 million tonnes, however, with over half shipped at market prices.

The company said it expected steel sales to improve by up to three per cent this year, with iron ore sales at market prices to rise by 20 per cent.

ArcelorMittal said this should help it increase operating profit in 2013.

"Although we expect the challenges to continue in 2013, largely due to the fragility of the European economy, we have recently seen some more positive indicators," said Mittal.

These, along with the steps the company has taken to focus on its most competitive assets and reduce its net debt, "are expected to support an improvement in the profitability of our steel business this year", he said.