Brazilian steelmaker Gerdau, the largest producer of steel in Latin America, saw its net profits in the first quarter of 2016 tumble 95 percent to just 14.18 million reais (4 million U.S. dollars) year-on-year, the company announced Tuesday.
However, the figure still marks a mild uptick from the fourth quarter of 2015, when it lost 40.6 million reais (11.5 million U.S. dollars).
The reduction of the consolidated liquid assets in the first trimester is attributed as the main cause for the slump, the comany said.
"However, when compared ... to the fourth quarter of 2015, there has been an improvement to EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) and financial results overall," Gerdau said.
The company's steel production from January to March reached 4.154 million tons, down 4.3 percent from a year earlier but 6.8 percent up from the previous quarter.
However, a continued downturn in sales is a cause for worry as they reached 3.851 million tons of steel, down 7 percent from the first quarter of 2015 and down 0.9 percent from the fourth quarter.
Gerdau, like many raw material manufacturers, has increased its exports to buffer the shrinking domestic demand. In its press release, the company said its exports were up 72.5 percent year-on-year.
Gerdau has the capacity to produce up to 25 million tons of steel a year and has steelmaking facilities in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, India, Mexico, Peru, Spain, Uruguay, the United States and Venezuela.