NEW YORK AK Steel Corp.
expects to see a significant financial improvement this year
compared with 2012 as a result of at least $150 million in
savings from lower raw material and energy costs.
"The (fourth) quarter concluded
a challenging year for AK Steel and for the steel industry in
general," chairman, president and chief executive officer James
L. Wainscott said during a Jan. 29 conference call. "Weak
economic conditions contributed to lower sales and production
levels. Coupled with excess steelmaking capacity, increased
steel imports and lower average selling prices negatively
impacted both our fourth-quarter and full-year financial
He said 2012 was a year of
waiting, "including waiting for a path forward on the European
debt crisis ... waiting for the Chinese leadership transition,
waiting for a resolution to the U.S. fiscal cliff issues ...
and waiting for a clear path for global growth. Were
delighted to say goodbye to 2012 and hello and welcome to
A highlight moving forward for
the West Chester, Ohio-based steelmaker includes lower raw
material and energy costs, largely from coal, coke and iron
ore, which could save the company more than $150 million,
Wainscott said. The steelmaker said it has locked in all of its
coal requirements for 2013 at "substantially lower prices" than
AK Steel also expects to operate
at higher rates this year due to improved demand and greater
market share in the automotive sector.
"Even with global economies
remaining in slow recovery mode, each of the items ... gives us
comfort that we can and will deliver significant first-quarter
and full-year 2013 results," Wainscott said.
The automotive market was a
bright spot last year for AK Steel, which increased its auto
business by about 20 percent and gained market share, he