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BlueScope shares soar as profits return

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February 18 2013, 11:15AM

BlueScope's shares have leapt by more than eight per cent on news its first half loss had narrowed and earnings were expected to continue improving.

BlueScope Steel on Monday posted a $12 million loss for the six months to December 31, a vast improvement on the $530 million deficit in the same period in the previous year.

The previous corresponding period's loss was a result of massive restructuring within the business, including job cuts, aimed at overcoming the impact of the high Australian dollar and strong competition from overseas.

The manufacturer's shares were 32 cents, or 8.5 per cent, higher at $4.09 at 1056 AEDT.

BlueScope's underlying net profit in the first half of 2012/13, which excludes one-off charges, was $10 million, compared to a $136 million loss previously.

The company said it expected continued improvement in its underlying profit in the second half of the financial year, forecasting a small profit for the period.

"The result is encouraging and, notwithstanding difficult trading conditions in Australia, the Coated and Industrial Products Australia (CIPA) segment delivered a positive result of $79 million in underlying EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation)," BlueScope managing director Paul O'Malley said in a statement.

BlueScope has cut more than 1,000 jobs after making two consecutive $1 billion annual losses, due to a range of economic factors that have hit the Australian steel market and forced the company to end its export operations.

The company will not pay an interim dividend in the current financial year.