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JFE Fourth-Quarter Profit Jumps as Yen Weakens, Costs Decline

JFE Holdings Inc. (5411), Japan’s second- biggest steelmaker, posted a 28-fold jump in fourth-quarter profit, helped by a weaker yen and cost cuts.

Net income was 17.6 billion yen ($178.1 million) in the three months ended March 31, the Tokyo-based company said today in a statement. That compares with 625 million yen a year earlier, according to a Bloomberg calculation.

The Japanese currency has depreciated about 14 percent against the dollar since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office Dec. 26, alleviating cost pressures at exporters. JFE exports half of its steel products.

JFE Holdings didn’t provide an earnings outlook for the current year to March 2014, saying it isn’t possible to make accurate forecasts at this stage. Profit is expected at 120.8 billion yen for the year, almost seven times the level of the previous year, according to the average estimate of 17 analysts compiled by Bloomberg.

JFE Holdings rose 2.9 percent to 2,012 yen as of 2:07 p.m. on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, extending its gain this year to 25 percent.

For the full-year ended March 31, the company had a profit of 39.6 billion yen, compared with a 36.6 billion yen loss a year earlier. Sales increased 0.7 percent to 3.19 trillion yen, the company said in the statement.

Based on improving profits, JFE also raised its dividend for last fiscal year to 20 yen from the 15 yen it forecast on Jan. 31.

Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. (5401), Japan’s biggest steelmaker created by the merger of Nippon Steel Corp. and Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd. in October, is scheduled to report full-year result on May 10.

To contact the reporter on this story: Masumi Suga in Tokyo at msuga@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jason Rogers at jrogers73@bloomberg.net

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