October 31, 2019 / 8:12 AM / 20 days ago

UPDATE 1-Outokumpu Q3 sales, profit hurt by Asian steel imports

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Oct 31 (Reuters) - Finnish stainless steelmaker Outokumpu reported a slump in third-quarter sales and profit as cheap Asian imports continued to hit sales in Europe.

Core operating profit fell to 45 million euros ($50 million) from 128 million euros a year earlier, it said on Thursday, missing forecasts for 58 million euros from a Refinitiv poll of analysts.

Sales dropped to 1.59 billion euros from 1.73 billion.

Outokumpu said fourth-quarter core operating profit would be at the same 45 million euro level.

“The stainless steel market is expected to remain subdued. The European market is suffering from continued import pressure from Asia and low underlying demand whereas in the U.S., we expect to see the normal fourth-quarter seasonality,” it said.

Shares in Outokumpu slid 6% at open, making it the biggest faller among Helsinki blue chips.

In addition to weaker sales, quarterly profits were hit by hedging losses totalling 31 million euros due to a sharp rise in the nickel price.

In September, EU governments approved limits to steel quotas to protect European manufacturers from the threat of surging imports following Washington’s imposition of 25% steel import tariffs.

Outokumpu Chief Executive Roeland Baan said in a statement that the EU safeguard measures, enforced since the beginning of October, have not yet had noticeable impact.

“However, the market should get more balanced as import quotas get filled,” he said.

“We also welcome the announcement by the European Commission that they have started anti-dumping investigations and countervailing duties against China and Indonesia.”

$1 = 0.8962 euros Reporting by Tarmo Virki in Tallinn Editing by David Goodman and Jan Harvey

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