ThyssenKrupp, Germany’s biggest steelmaker, won’t pay an annual dividend after posting a second straight yearly loss, including a 3.6 billion-euro ($4.7 billion) writedown on its Steel Americas unit.
Net loss widened to 4.7 billion euros in the year ended Sept.30, the Essen-based company said in a statement on its website. The loss was 1.29 billion euros a year earlier.
Waning demand from the auto and construction industries has pushed down steel prices and squeezed producers’ profit margins. ThyssenKrupp, hurt by losses at plants in the US and Brazil, is selling its Steel Americas and Inoxum units as it cuts the number of business units to five from eight while expanding non-steel operations.
The steelmaker paid a dividend of 45 euro cents a share for the prior year. It’s the first year without a payout since at least 2000, according to a data.
ThyssenKrupp said last week it ousted three top executives following the ill-fated expansion in the Americas and corruption allegations. Olaf Berlien, Edwin Eichler and Juergen Claassen will leave at the end of the year, according to the company, which said the supervisory board had agreed to the changes.
“With the changes on the executive board, the supervisory board has sent out a clear signal for a fresh start,” Chief Executive Officer Heinrich Hiesinger said in a statement.
“We are systematically establishing a new leadership culture based on honesty, transparency and performance orientation”, he said.
Earnings before interest and tax excluding one-time items and results from Inoxum fell 77 per cent to 399 million euros. The average of 22 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg was for 397.1 million euros. Sales from continuing operations fell 6 per cent to 40.1 billion euros.
ThyssenKrupp projected adjusted Ebit of about 1 billion euros for the current fiscal year on sales of around 40 billion euros for continuing operations, which excludes Steel Americas. The company said cost cuts will improve Ebit by 2 billion euros in the next three years.
Net debt rose to 5.8 billion euros from 3.6 billion euros a year earlier. The company said it has 6.7 billion euros of cash, cash equivalents and undrawn credit facilities, and its financing is “secure.”
ThyssenKrupp said on Nov.19 it asked bidders to submit binding offers for its US and Brazilian plants. Cia. Siderurgica Nacional, Brazil’s third-largest steelmaker by output, offered about $3 billion to buy the two ThyssenKrupp’s plants in the Americas, two people familiar with the matter said last month.
“In connection with the classification of Steel Americas as a discontinued operation, a writedown to fair value” was necessary, ThyssenKrupp said.
Steel Americas’ adjusted loss before interest and tax narrowed to 1.01 billion euros, said Kilian Roetzer, a company spokesman. A year earlier, ThyssenKrupp posted loss of 1.07 billion euros and took a 2.1 billion-euro writedown on the unit.
The sale of the Inoxum stainless steel unit to Finland’s Outokumpu will be completed before the end of 2012 and result in a “significant” cut in debt, ThyssenKrupp said.
Other European steel companies have also reported mounting pressure on profit from the slump in demand and lower prices. Salzgitter, Germany’s second-largest steelmaker, cut its earnings forecast on Nov.5, while Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest producer, posted its lowest quarterly profit in almost three years on Oct.31.
The company said late on Monday it has cut the book value of the mills, which is bundled in its Steel Americas business, to 3.9 billion euros from 7 billion because bids from potential buyers were too low.
Steel Americas is one of several businesses Heinrich Hiesinger is seeking to sell in a major overhaul to raise money for investments in ThyssenKrupp’s engineering and technology businesses.
Once Steel Americas is sold, only about 30 per cent of group revenue will come from steel, ThyssenKrupp said, raising the importance of its businesses making car parts, factories and elevators.
The Steel Americas plants, in which Thyssen invested about 12 billion euros over the years, had been meant to give ThyssenKrupp a foothold in the Americas, but costs for the mills ran far over budget while demand for the steel they made grew sluggish.