SSAB North America achieved higher market share in 2017. SSAB’s share of the North American steel slab market was estimated at 30 percent for the year. Full-year earnings and shipments increased compared to 2016. Sales for the full year were SEK 12.7 billion ($1.6 billion) and shipments 1,971,000 metric tons (2.17 million short tons).
Fourth-quarter shipments rose 3 percent to 525,000 metric tons versus 508,000 tons in the third quarter due to improved demand from steel service centers and the heavy transport segment. Sales totaled SEK 3.23 billion ($410.5 million) for the quarter compared to SEK 3.34 billion ($424 million) in the third quarter and SEK 2.8 billion ($356 million) in Q4 2016.
“The heavy plate market in North America deteriorated during the fall, leading to lower realized prices and lower operating profit compared with the previous quarter,” said President and CEO Martin Lindqvist. “Nevertheless, demand picked up towards the end of the year and market prices for heavy plate rose sharply. These higher prices will gradually reflect earnings from the first quarter onwards, and demand is expected to continue at a good level.”
In outlook remarks, SSAB said railcar production in the U.S. is expected to remain on a low level along with a slowdown in automotive demand. SSAB expects continued recovery in the construction machinery sector. Demand from service centers in the U.S. is expected to improve with potential restocking. Prices are expected to be somewhat higher in first quarter, but will be partially offset by higher raw material costs.
No maintenance outages are expected for the North American segment until fourth-quarter 2018.
SSAB Group reported improved earnings for the year of SEK 3.838 billion ($488 million) due to higher prices and growth in high-strength steels in the European automotive sector, as well as significantly higher shipments for SSAB Special Steels. Sales for the year totaled SEK 66 billion ($8.4 billion) compared to SEK 55.3 billion ($7 billion) in 2016.
SSAB operating profit for the fourth quarter increased to SEK 843 million ($107 million) with sales of SEK 17 billion ($2.2 billion).
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