Steelmaker SSAB’s profit soars, meeting forecasts

STOCKHOLM–Swedish steel maker SSAB AB (SSAB-A.SK) on Friday posted a 48% rise in second-quarter net profit that was in line with forecasts, as good demand and favorable pricing drove an improvement in earnings.

Net profit rose to 1.31 billion Swedish kronor ($147 million) from SEK883 million a year earlier, while sales increased to SEK19.26 billion from SEK17.12 billion a year earlier.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected net profit of SEK1.34 billion and sales of SEK19.55 billion.

"Despite the political turbulence surrounding trade barriers, we expect the outlook to remain good for the second half of 2018," the company said.

"SSAB has strong market positions in our home markets and we are on track towards achieving our strategic growth targets for 2020. All in all, we have good opportunities for continued profitable growth and to generate strong cash flow," it said.

In North America, demand for heavy plate is expected to remain strong during the third quarter of 2018, the company said, while in Europe it anticipates a seasonal slowdown but with solid underlying demand.

The company said it expects underlying demand for high-strength steel to remain strong in the third quarter, during which planned maintenance outages are expected to cost SEK220 million.

Separately, the company said it has sold the Ruukki Construction business operations in Russia to OOO Salavatneftemash, noting that business in Russia has decreased and the outlook is fairly unclear. Financial details of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Write to Dominic Chopping at [email protected]; @domchopping @WSJNordics

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