* Executives say higher tariffs open door to Q1 price hike
* CEO sees profit margins recovering in long term, not Q1
* Investment likely to miss 2012 target of 2 bln reais -CEO
SAO PAULO, Dec 5 Brazil's largest maker of flat
steel products, Usinas Siderúrgicas de Minas Gerais SA
, is unlikely to see much better profit margins early
next year even with a possible price increase on its home turf,
executives said on Wednesday.
"Improvements take effect over the course of longer periods.
There is no magic ... I would say I don't expect a better margin
in the first quarter," Chief Executive Julián Eguren told
investors at a meeting on Wednesday.
Brazil's steel industry is facing one of its worst crises in
years. Mills in Brazil are grappling with global steel
overcapacity and weak prices, rising costs for some raw
materials such as coal, and a domestic output glut.
Usiminas, as the Belo Horizonte, Brazil-based company is
known, posted a bigger-than-expected loss in the third quarter
due to weak iron ore sales and surging one-time expenses.
Sales volumes from October to December will likely be in
line with the prior quarter, said Sergio Leite, who heads
Usiminas' commercial and logistics division.
He added that higher tariffs on steel imports will create
conditions for a possible increase in Brazil's domestic steel
prices in the first quarter of next year.
Usiminas may invest less than the 2 billion reais ($948
million) originally budgeted for 2012, CEO Eguren told analysts
and shareholders at the event.