Kloeckner Reports Full-Year Loss, Missing Analyst Estimates

Kloeckner & Co. SE, the German steel trader part-owned by the Knauf family, posted a 2013 loss that missed analyst estimates as Europe’s economic crisis cut 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. Analysts had expected a loss of 58.6 million euros, according to the average of 20 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Results were affected by the “overall weak market as well as location closures as part of the restructuring program,” Kloeckner said. The first quarter of 2013 was affected by a long European winter while overcapacity in the industry brought “strong competitive pressure” and lower prices, it said.

Kloeckner is reducing costs by closing or selling sites in France and the U.S. and cutting jobs. It’s among steelmakers curtailing operations as dwindling demand from the auto and construction industries in Europe and competition from China drag down prices and squeeze profit margins. The company forecast an improvement in consumption and earnings this year.

“We achieved the turnaround in fiscal year 2013,” Chief Executive Officer Gisbert Ruehl said in the statement. “As early as 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.”

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Kloeckner dropped 3.7 percent to close at 10.905 euros in Frankfurt trading.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization excluding restructuring costs rose to 150 million euros from 137 million euros, beating the 132.5 million-euro average estimate of 13 analysts. Ebitda may reach 50 million euros this quarter and will exceed 2013’s result over the full year, while net earnings will turn positive, the company said.

“The forecast is still defined by uncertainty,” Marc Gabriel, an analyst at Bankhaus Lampe KG, said by phone from Dusseldorf, citing “surprise” asset disposals in 2013.

Salzgitter AG, Germany’s second-largest steelmaker, also reported a 2013 loss last week. The loss before taxes grew to 477.8 million euros from 29.4 million euros a year earlier.

Kloeckner’s fourth-quarter results included a net loss of 59 million euros, narrower than a year earlier, and Ebitda of 40 million euros, down from 22 million euros. The company said it intends to resume dividend payments next year.

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