UPDATE 1-AK Steel estimates first-quarter loss as costs rise

Fri Mar 21, 2014 10:21am EDT

(Adds shipment estimate, details)

March 21 (Reuters) - AK Steel Holding Corp forecast a bigger loss for the first quarter as an unplanned blast furnace outage in its Kentucky plant hurt shipments and drove up costs.

The U.S. steelmaker said shipments were likely to fall 10-12 percent to 1.25 million-1.28 million tons in the quarter ending March 31 from the preceding quarter.

The company, however, expects its average selling price to rise about 6 percent to $1,095 per ton.

The cost of natural gas and electricity used to make steel also increased by about $30 million from the preceding quarter due to cold weather. The company will record a charge of about $47 million related to outages.

AK Steel estimated a net loss of 44 cents to 49 cents per share for the first quarter. The company reported a net loss of 7 cents a year earlier and a profit of 26 cents in the preceding quarter.

The company said a $5.8 million charge for a tentative legal settlement also hurt the quarter, but added that it does not expect these problems to continue for the rest of the year.

AKS shares were up about 3 percent at $6.89 on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Anannya Pramanick in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian)