ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel maker, today narrowed its fourth quarter loss to USD 955 million on higher operating income and lower interest outgo.
The company, controlled by NRI billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, had reported USD 1.2 billion net loss in the October-December quarter of the last year, it said in a statement.
Though sales volume of the company grew by 3.4 per cent during the quarter, it declined in value to USD 18.7 billion from USD 19.8 billion recorded in the corresponding quarter of the last year owing to lower average prices.
“Sales in Q4, 2014 were lower as compared to Q4, 2013 due to lower average steel selling prices (-8.2 per cent), lower marketable iron ore shipments (-3.4 per cent) and lower iron ore reference prices (-44.8 per cent), partially offset by improved steel shipments (3.4 per cent),” it said.
Total steel shipments for the reporting quarter were at 21.2 million tonnes compared to 20.5 million tonnes in the same quarter last year.
Operating income stood at USD 569 million as compared to operating income of USD 36 million a year ago.
Restructuring charges for the quarter were nil compared to USD 379 million in the same period last year, primarily related to the announced industrial and social plan for the finishing facilities at Liege, Belgium.
Loss from investments in associates, joint ventures and other investments during the quarter was USD 380 million as compared to loss of USD 453 million a year earlier.
Net interest expense in the fourth quarter was lower at USD 322 million compared to USD 419 million in the same quarter a year ago.
ArcelorMittal also benefitted from lower foreign exchange and other net financing costs as well as lower income tax outgo. Depreciation was also lower at USD 982 million for the against USD 1,263 million a year ago.
For the full year, company’s net loss also narrowed to USD 1.086 billion compared to USD 2.545 billion in 2013. Sales remained almost static at USD 79 billion. It sold 85 million tonnes of steel during the year and an EBITDA of USD 7.2 billion.
“Stronger steel demand, particularly in our core markets of Europe and the US, drove an 8.5 per cent improvement in 2014 underlying EBITDA, despite the lower iron-ore price,” said company Chairman and CEO L N Mittal.
Net debt reached USD 15.8 billion, the lowest level since the onset of the economic crisis, demonstrating continued progress towards our medium term target of USD 15 billion, he added.
“For 2015, although operating conditions remain tough we expect steel markets to continue to improve, particularly for high value-added products such as automotive, where ArcelorMittal is a world leader,” Mittal said.
Sounding a cautious note, he said EBITDA would go down in the next year in the range between USD 6.5 and USD 7 billion.