* FY net loss $3.73 bln after $4.3 bln Europe writedown
* Sees steel shipments up 2-3 pct in 2013
* Expects margin per tonne to increase over course of year
* Sees iron ore shipments rising 20 pct
* Shares up more than 2 pct, after drop in past 2 weeks
By Philip Blenkinsop
BRUSSELS, Feb 6 ArcelorMittal, the
world's largest steelmaker, forecast improving demand and
earnings this year, after a wretched 2012 in which sliding
European consumption and a Chinese slowdown drove it to a deep
The Luxembourg-based company said global steel consumption -
a gauge of the world economy - would grow by 3 percent in 2013
after a 2 percent increase last year, driven by faster growth in
Brazil and China, while Europe would not weaken as much.
The $500 billion a year steel industry slowed sharply last
year as a moderation in Chinese growth compounded weak demand in
austerity-hit Europe. ArcelorMittal has no operations in China,
but like all steelmakers is influenced by trends in the world's
largest producer and consumer of the metal.
China's economy grew at its slowest pace in 13 years in
2012, but a year-end spurt in infrastructure spending and a jump
in trade should set it on course for quicker expansion.
ArcelorMittal said it expected its own steel shipments would
rise by between 2 and 3 percent in 2013 and margins per tonne
would improve slightly over the course of the year due to a cost
Core profit (EBITDA) would be higher this year than the
$7.08 billion achieved in 2012, the second-lowest since the
company was formed in 2006.
The group posted a net loss of $3.73 billion for the year,
largely the result of a $4.3 billion hit in the fourth quarter
from writing down the value of its European steel business and
$1.3 billion related to the idling and closure of plants.
Its shares, which have fallen 10 percent in the past two
weeks, were 2.7 percent higher by 1055 GMT, making them among
the top 10 best performers in the FTSEurofirst 300 index
of leading European stocks.
Nomura analyst Neil Sampat said the guidance was consistent
with consensus estimates for core profit this year of $8
billion. "To me that's relatively positive, given there was a
fear that estimates would come down," he said.
Chief Executive Lakshmi Mittal said 2012 had been a
difficult year for steel, particularly in Europe, where an 8.8
percent drop in demand had prompted a number of steps to reduce
capacity and cut debt.
Investors already knew that ArcelorMittal had slashed its
proposed dividend, sold assets and raised $4 billion by selling
shares and convertibles to cut debt after losing its
Steel industry body Eurofer said yesterday it expects
European steel demand to fall further this year after a sharp
drop in 2012.
Yet global economic indicators were trending upwards and
there were signs of stabilisation in Europe, though euro zone
uncertainty remained a key risk, ArcelorMittal said.
The group forecast European consumption would be 1 percent
lower this year than last. However, the Chinese market would
grow by 3 percent from 2 percent in 2012 and Brazilian growth
would accelerate to 5 percent from 1 percent.
World number five POSCO has also forecast global
demand rising 3 percent this year and sees a sharp improvement
in first-quarter earnings from the fourth. However, its 2013
sales target is 10 percent below the 2012 level.
U.S. producers U.S. Steel and AK Steel Holding Corp
have said results this quarter should improve,
though the extent of China's 2012 slowdown has also been
underscored by results from Chinese steelmakers.
Profit at China's large steel mills slumped 98 percent last
year, according to the China Iron & Steel Association, which has
a slightly improved outlook this year.
ArcelorMittal also said iron ore shipments from its
expanding mining operations would increase by 20 percent on the
back of a ramp-up of production in Canada. Prices had also
recovered from third-quarter lows.