ArcelorMittal is back in profit after a dire year for the world’s steel markets

ARCELORMITTAL recorded a $1.07 bn (£684 m) profit in the fourth quarter of 2009 on the back of improved steel demand.

The results are a significant turnaround from the same period last year when the steelmaker reported a $2.6bn loss.

But the company’s profit for the year was $118m, a large drop from the $9.4bn made in 2008.

ArcelorMittal admitted it had been hard hit by the financial crisis however Laskshmi Mittal, chief executive, said it was in a good position to benefit from the recovery having cut $2.7bn from its cost base in 2009.

Shipments in the first quarter of 2010 are expected to be higher than the fourth quarter of 2009, although the increase will be offset by lower average selling prices.

He said: “In a very difficult environment, ArcelorMittal has succeeded in reducing its cost base substantially and significantly strengthening the balance sheet. We therefore start the year in a good position to benefit from the progressive, albeit slow, recovery that is underway.”

The steelmaker has predicted first quarter EBITDA between $1.8bn and $2.2bn, lower than analyst’s expectations of $2.7bn. It also said net debt is likely to increase at the beginning of 2010.

CAPEX spend is up 43 per cent year on year, with a focus on developments in Brazil and the Middle East.