Evraz’s steel production falls in first quarter but prices improve

Suzie Neuwirth

RUSSIAN steelmaker Evraz yesterday blamed scheduled maintenance works for an eight per cent drop in crude steel production in the first quarter, but said prices for its products had started to pick up at the end of the period.

The heavily indebted FTSE 250 company, which is drastically cutting costs this year, said it expects production to grow in the second quarter due to less downtime for maintenance and repairs.

Average prices for most of Evraz’s steel products in Russia decreased during the quarter, but in March prices started to increase as a result of improved demand and the start of the construction season.

North America – whose construction market is seen as being ahead of the recovery curve – saw average steel prices rise, thanks to better product mix and high demand, as well as lower imports.

Last week Evraz surprised the market by pledging a dividend of six cents per share, dependent on its debt to earnings ratio hitting a certain target.

The firm reported losses of $572m (£342m) in 2013, a 34.6 per cent increase from 2012, while revenue fell 2.1 per cent to $14.4bn.

Evraz warned that the political unrest in Ukraine could impact its operations, but said it had not yet.

Shares closed 1.2 per cent lower.