June 3, 2020 / 6:12 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 2-Voestalpine books 2019/20 loss, sees China-led recovery

* 2019/20 net loss of 216 mln eur vs 2018/19 profit of 459 mln

* 2019/20 revenue of 12.7 bln eur vs 13.6 bln the previous year

* Proposes 2019/20 dividend of 0.20 eur/shr after 1.10 eur/shr

* 2020/21 EBITDA seen between 600 mln and 1 bln euros (Adds short-time work, investments, background)

By Kirsti Knolle

VIENNA, June 3 (Reuters) - Voestalpine reported a loss for its business year to the end of March and said the current quarter will also be hit by the coronavirus-related downturn, but predicted the rest of the year would be stronger, with China leading any recovery.

Steel mills in many countries have idled capacity as demand has shrunk. In China, the world’s top steelmaker, healthier profit margins and government stimulus measures have helped to allow Voestalpine’s nine production sites there to return to pre-crisis output.

“From today’s vantage point, a scenario that posits an improvement in the economy as a whole after the summer of 2020 is likely,” Chief Executive Herbert Eibensteiner said in a statement on Wednesday.

Voestalpine’s share price rose 1.5% to 18.68 euros in early trade. “Guidance could have been worse given the numerous uncertainties,” JP Morgan analysts wrote in a note.

The company booked a loss of 216 million euros ($242 million) for the business year that ended in March after posting a profit of 459 million the previous year.

It was hit by shutdowns in the sectors it supplies, from the automotive and aerospace to natural resources. Revenue declined 6.2% to 12.7 billion euros.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) reached 1.2 billion, but are expected to drop to between 600 million and 1 billion euros this business year, the group said.

In response to the macroeconomic environment, the Linz-headquartered group plans to cut investments to 600 million euros this year from 777 million euros in 2019/20.

The Austrian group with around 50,000 staff said in March that it had agreed shorter working hours in about 50 of its European sites.

It plans to cut the dividend to 0.20 euros per share for 2019/20 from 1.10 euros per share last year.

$1 = 0.8924 euros Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Michelle Martin and Barbara Lewis

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