Kloeckner Full-Year Loss Narrows, Missing Analyst Estimates

Kloeckner & Co. SE (KCO), the German steel trader part-owned by the Knauf family, posted a loss last year that missed analyst estimates as Europe’s economic crisis hurts demand.

The net loss narrowed to 90 million euros ($124 million) in 2013, from 203 million euros a year earlier, the Duisburg-based company said today in a statement. That compares with the average 58.6 million euro loss of 20 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales fell 14 percent to 6.38 billion euros.

“We achieved the turnaround in fiscal year 2013,” Chief Executive Officer Gisbert Ruehl said in the statement. In “the second-half year, the boost to earnings from the restructuring program was already substantially bigger than the negative impact from the market contraction.”

Dwindling demand for steel for cars and construction in Europe and increased competition from China have curbed prices and squeezed profit margins as producers grapple with surplus capacity. Germany’s second-largest steelmaker Salzgitter AG (SZG) last week reported a loss before taxes that grew to 477.8 million euros in 2013 from 29.4 million euros a year earlier.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization excluding restructuring costs rose to 150 million euros from 137 million euros, beating a 140 million-euro estimate that Kloeckner lowered in August from 200 million euros. That compares with the 132.5 million-euro average of 13 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

The steel trader projects 2014 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization “to substantially exceed” 2013 and to be 40 million euros to 50 million euros in the first quarter. It expects pretax profit for 2014, Ruehl said.

The net loss narrowed to 59 million euros in the fourth quarter from 123 million euros a year earlier. Ebitda excluding restructuring costs was 40 million euros in the period, compared with 22 million euros a year earlier.

Interfer Holding GmbH, which owns Kloeckner’s rival Knauf Interfer SE, said last year it bought 7.82 percent of Kloeckner in a “strategic investment.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Tino Andresen in Dusseldorf at tandresen1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net

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