SEOUL Jan 28 South Korean steelmaker POSCO
, backed by billionaire investor Warren Buffett,
reported a smaller-than-expected 29 percent gain in quarterly
operating profit as the stronger won and weak demand sapped
POSCO, the world's fifth-biggest steelmaker, said on Tuesday
its October-December operating profit was 488 billion won
($450.3 million) on a parent basis that does not reflect
earnings of affiliates.
The fourth-quarter profit was below an average forecast of
557 billion won and compared with an operating profit of 379
billion won a year earlier.
A prolonged downturn in the steel industry shows no signs of
letting up, pressured by China's excess capacity coupled with
slowing demand in the world's top steel consumer.
The South Korean won's strength against major currencies
eroded POSCO's repatriated earnings overseas and its export
margins as Japan's Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal
forecast a nearly four-fold jump in annual profit, fueled by a
POSCO shares, of which Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc
owns around 5 percent, ended down 0.5 percent prior to
the results on Tuesday. Its shares fell 9 percent this year,
lagging the wider market's 4.7 percent drop.