* Targets 30 mln T in crude steel output in 2014/15
* Crude steel output rises 2.5 pct in 2013/14
* Recurring profit in 2013/14 grew more than three-fold
TOKYO, April 24 JFE Holdings Inc,
Japan's No.2 steelmaker, aims to boost its crude steel output by
about 5 percent in the 2014/15 business year that started this
month in a bid to meet solid construction demand at home.
A cooling of China's economy and an oversupply of steel in
Asia has hit many of the region's steelmakers, but Japanese
producers are being supported by Prime Minister Shintaro Abe's
push to revitalise the economy with infrastructure investments
and monetary easing.
JFE, the world's ninth-biggest crude steel producer by
volume, said its group recurring profit, which is pretax and
before one-off items, grew 3.3-fold to 173.68 billion yen ($1.70
billion) in the year ended on March 31 from a year earlier.
Robust demand for construction and automobile steel and
higher steel prices in Japan boosted profits.
The Tokyo-based company did not provide its earnings
forecast for this year, but a consensus estimate stands at 231.5
billion yen in a poll of 16 analysts in Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S,
suggesting another year of profit increase.
Investors are now watching for the impact of a sales tax
hike that took effect on April 1 in Japan, though JFE said it
was not overly worried about the impact.
"We'll see some decline in demand, but we notice that
automobile makers are already revising up their production plans
for April-June quarter and April-September half," JFE executive
vice president Shinichi Okada told a news conference.
"Also with continuing solid demand in the construction
sector, we don't expect a sharp fall in demand. Domestic demand
is fairly strong," he said.
Propelled by strong construction demand including
redevelopment projects in central Tokyo and a rush to build
houses ahead of the sales tax hike, Japan's crude steel output
rose to the highest in six years in the 2013/14 business year.
"Our crude steel production this year will depend on demand
and supply as well as the economic environment. But we'll first
aim for 30 million tonnes," Okada said.
The 30 million tonnes on a parent basis represents a 4.6
percent increase from 28.67 million tonnes a year earlier.
Its crude steel output rose 2.5 percent year-on-year in the
2013/14 year to the highest in three years.
($1 = 102.3850 Japanese Yen)
(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Muralikumar
Anantharaman and Ed Davies)