ArcelorMittal SA, the world’s largest steel maker, on Wednesday posted a fourth quarter profit of $1.07 billion and said it sees steel demand strengthening after a sluggish year. The company made a profit of just $118 million for all of 2009, compared to a $9.4 billion profit a year earlier.
The fourth quarter profit of $1.07 billion in the last three months of 2009, was higher than a third quarter profit figure of $903 million and well above a $2.6 billion loss in 2008’s fourth quarter.
ArcelorMittal says it sees steel demand picking up — with first quarter shipments outpacing the fourth quarter — but warned that this will be offset by lower selling prices and higher costs. The company also expects its net debt to increase during the first quarter.
CEO Lakshmi Mittal said the company had reduced “its cost base substantially” over the last year. The company outpaced a savings target of $2 billion, by shaving some $2.7 billion from running costs.
He said the company plans to increase capital spending this year to snatch selected growth opportunities as demand improves. ArcelorMittal suffered three consecutive quarterly losses before returning to profit in the third quarter last year.