BlueScope misses expectations

Bluescope reported a 10 per cent lift in revenue to $7.98 billion for the year. Photo: Louie Douvis
Bluescope reported a 10 per cent lift in revenue to $7.98 billion for the year. Photo: Louie Douvis

Australia's biggest steelmaker, BlueScope Steel, has missed consensus analyst expectations for revenue and reported a bigger loss than predicted in the financial year ended June 30.

The company said its turnaround process remains on track, but it does not expect its situation to improve significantly in the current six month period.

It announced an annual net loss after tax of $82.4 million, representing a $24.7 million improvement in full-year profitability from the previous financial year.

Underlying net profit after tax grew by $105.6 million to $112.3 million. This missed analyst expectations for an underlying annual net profit of $122 million.

Sales from continuing operations rose 10 per cent. Earnings grew across all six operating segments.

In the critical Australian coated and industrial products business underlying full-year earnings jumped 216 per cent to $65.4 million, boosted by higher domestic sales volumes and lower loss-making exports.

Total revenue, as measured by earnings before interest and tax, rose to $8.007 billion, missing consensus analyst expectations for a lift in revenue to $8.148 billion.

Ahead of the result, Morgan Stanley analyst James Rutledge had expectations for revenue, earnings and profit that were more bullish than the consensus view. As such, he had predicted the steel maker would announce a 3¢ per share interim dividend.

But the company did not declare a dividend, in line with consensus expectations.

"The board is pleased with the company's continued turnaround and progress on growth initiatives," BlueScope chairman Graham Kraehe said.

"We have actively invested to lower our cost base, to better serve customers and to grow our iron sands exports. These actions have laid a solid foundation for a future return to paying dividends."

The company said it expects a similar underlying net profit after tax in the first half of financial year 2015, subject to spread, foreign exchange and market conditions.

In the previous financial year, BlueScope Steel posted a net loss of $84 million, which was a $960 million turnaround in financial performance compared to the financial year ended June 2012.

At Friday's close, shares in BlueScope Steel were fetching $6.10. The stock has risen 18.3 per cent over the past 12 months, outstripping a 9.9 per cent rise in the benchmark S&P / ASX 200 Index.

BlueScope has a market capitalisation of $3.41 billion.



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