Bekaert reaps benefits from restructuring drive

BRUSSELS Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:37am EST

BRUSSELS Feb 28 (Reuters) - Belgian steel cable and wire maker Bekaert on Friday reported a 42 percent increase in underlying operating profit, as it boosted its margins in the Asia Pacific and EMEA regions after a tough restructuring programme.

The company, whose steel wire reinforces a quarter of the world's automotive tyres, said it saw strong demand from the Chinese tyre sector adding that the European automotive sector also showed an upward trend in the second half of 2013.

Some two-thirds of Bekaert's market value has been eroded since its peak in 2011, after a crash in the market for sawing wire used for solar panels, prompting a restructuring designed to cut 1,850 jobs and save around 100 million euros a year.

Margins in the Asia Pacific region rose to 8.1 percent from 3.9 percent, while profitability in the Americas fell.

In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, margins also rose, though not by as much as in Asia.

Overall, operating profit adjusted for one offs (REBIT) rose 42 percent in 2013 to 166 million euros ($227.11 million), broadly in line with the 165 million euros expected in a Reuters poll of six analysts.

($1 = 0.7309 euros) (Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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