SSAB Sees Improvement for First Quarter Results

SSAB's first quarter results were aided by SSAB Europe's 9% increase in shipments which led to a strong quarter.

SSAB reports its first quarter 2017 results, which saw solid earnings improvement driven by SSAB Europe. 

The quarter

  • Sales were SEK 15,739 (12,964) million
  • Operating profit before depreciation/amortization was SEK 1,627 (741) million
  • Operating profit/loss was SEK 702 (-193) million
  • The result after financial items was SEK 449 (-347) million
  • Earnings per share were SEK 0.49 (-0.18)
  • Operating cash flow was SEK 876 (77) million

Comments by the CEO

"SSAB posted an operating profit of SEK 702 million for the first quarter of 2017. This was a solid improvement compared with both the previous quarter and the same period a year earlier. Improved earnings were primarily driven by SSAB Europe through increased shipments and prices, and a high and stable production. SSAB Special Steels also improved earnings despite the rolling mill in Oxelösund being out of operation for more than five weeks at the start of the year following the breakdown occurring in late 2016. The division was able to maintain a good level of shipments since our production flexibility (which enables high-strength steels to be produced at several mills) outperformed expectations. A high rate of production in Oxelösund also contributed once the rolling mill was up and running again in the beginning of February.

"SSAB Special Steels is growing structurally on the market driven by customer demand for increasingly lighter and stronger products. Demand improved in many segments during the first quarter. The breakdown in Oxelösund caused SSAB Special Steels to sustain a total production loss of around 70,000 tonnes during the first quarter. Discussions as to the extent this loss can be indemnified are ongoing with the insurance company.

"SSAB Europe had a strong quarter, with good underlying demand and a 9% increase in shipments compared to the previous quarter. Realized prices also improved and production was at a high rate. Market prices increased slightly at the start of the year before stabilizing towards the end of the quarter.

"In North America, SSAB Americas saw an increase in realized prices during the quarter. The price of scrap also rose, which meant a relatively modest strengthening of margins. The costs of the planned maintenance outage in Mobile impacted negatively on earnings and, despite steady underlying demand, resulted in somewhat lower shipments than during the previous quarter.

"SSAB’s aim to reduce net debt by SEK 10 billion between the start of the first quarter of 2016 and the end of 2017 is progressing to plan, with a net cash flow of SEK 0.6 billion during the quarter. A further SEK 2.3 billion will be achieved during the three remaining quarters of the year through cash flow generated from operations, structural reduction in working capital and through possible divestment of non-core assets.

"We have now entered the next phase in executing our 'Taking the Lead' strategy, having last year created a platform for profitable growth through our cost reduction and efficiency programs, including synergies, together with the refinancing package put in place during the second quarter of 2016. Our goal is industry-leading profitability. One focus area is to continue to drive efficiency through continuous improvements in all our operations. At the same time, we will continue to grow in Special Steels and Automotive segment. During the year, we will also continue to further develop the aftermarket business by, among other things, signing up new members to our Hardox Wearparts network.

"HYBRIT, our long-term initiative for a sustainable carbon-dioxide-free steel industry, received financial support during the first quarter from the Swedish Energy Agency and we are now setting up a joint venture with LKAB and Vattenfall to take the project forward."