ArcelorMittal in a sombre mood as it returns to profit

City A.M. Reporter
ARCELORMITTAL, the world&rsquo;s largest steelmaker, dampened recovery expectations yesterday with a muted forecast for the final three months of 2009 after a return to profit in the third quarter.<br /><br />The firm, which produces three times more steel than nearest rival Nippon and holds nearly eight per cent of the global market, said it expected its much-watched core profit to be between $2.0bn (&pound;1.3bn) and $2.4bn in the fourth quarter.<br /><br />The mid-point would be a near 40 per cent improvement on the third quarter, but some 20 per cent down on already depressed year-earlier levels and below the average analyst expectation of around $2.5bn.<br /><br />&ldquo;I think the market may take the fourth quarter outlook as indicating potential downside risk for 2010 estimates,&rdquo; said Andrew Snowdowne, an analyst at UBS that has a &ldquo;Neutral&rdquo; rating on the stock.<br /><br />The steel industry is often seen as a broad gauge of economic strength, and shares in US rivals Steel Corp&nbsp; and AK Steel fell after they reported stronger than expected third-quarter results but reiterated gloomy short-term views. <br /><br />ArcelorMittal chief executive Lakshmi Mittal said the company had seen the first signs of recovery.