From: Reuters
Published May 14, 2008 01:43 AM

ArcelorMittal EBITDA slightly below expectations

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker, reported a rise in first-quarter core profit that was slightly below expectations, and forecast higher earnings in the second quarter on strong demand.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) totaled $5.04 billion against the average forecast in a Reuters poll of eight analysts of $5.06 billion.

ArcelorMittal had forecast a range of $4.7 billion to $5 billion.

The company said on Wednesday EBITDA in the second quarter would be above $6.5 billion "largely on account of strong demand for our products across all regions."

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It also announced a price increase for its flat carbon products in Europe, for new bookings with delivery scheduled for July and August 2008.

Sales and net profit was $29.81 billion and $2.37 billion while the Reuters poll of analysts gave averages of $29.78 billion and $2.49 billion respectively.

ArcelorMittal Chief Executive Lakshmi Mittal became chairman of the steelmaker on Tuesday, increasing his control over the company but fuelling worries among some shareholders about the extent of his powers.

Two years after the end of the takeover battle that finally led to the friendly purchase of Arcelor by Mittal Steel, Mittal now heads a company three times bigger than its nearest rival, producing over 100 million tonnes of steel a year.

"We have also now fully captured the $1.6 billion of synergies that we announced we expected from our successful merger with Arcelor," Mittal said in a statement.

ArcelorMittal, which accounts for about 10 percent of the world's steel output, has a market capitalization close to 90 billion euros ($139.1 billion) and has seen the value of its shares rise more than 65 percent in the past year.

Since its creation ArcelorMittal has pursued consolidation, with a flurry of investments and acquisitions in developing countries such as Senegal, India, Russia and China.

It announced last week it was considering investing up to $10 billion in Indonesia.

The group is seeking to raise its own iron ore production to 75 percent of consumption in the coming years, a goal announced before BHP Billiton announced its plan to acquire rival Rio Tinto.

(Editing by Sue Thomas)

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