Steel price boom pushes ArcelorMittal to best quarterly profit since 2008

ArcelorMittal has reported its highest quarterly profit since 2008 as the boom in steel prices helped the world’s largest producer shrug off weaker demand from carmakers.

The Luxembourg-based group made profits of $6.1bn in the third quarter, 19.9 per cent higher than in the second quarter, its previous record since 2008, although slightly below analysts’ expectations.

Net debt in the quarter fell to $3.9bn, its lowest level since 2008. Sales were also higher at $20.2bn.

The company is increasing its share buyback by a further $1bn, bringing capital returns announced since September 2020 to $6bn.

The strong results came despite total steel shipments in the latest three-month period falling 9 per cent to 14.6m tonnes compared with the second quarter this year due to weaker demand, in particular from automotive customers, as well as production constraints and order shipment delays. ArcelorMittal said it expected these to reverse in the fourth quarter.

Western steel producers have been enjoying their best year after a decade during which many closed plants and cut staff amid low demand. The global economic recovery following the pandemic has helped to drive demand for steel, while constraints on supply have also buoyed prices.

Aditya Mittal, chief executive, said the company expected underlying demand to continue to improve.

“The outlook remains positive: underlying demand is expected to continue to improve; and, although marginally off the recent record highs, steel prices remain at elevated levels, something which will be reflected in the annual contracts for 2022,” he said.

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