LONDON ArcelorMittal SA posted its largest-ever quarterly loss during the final three months of 2012 as the companys ailing European unit continued to struggle with weak demand.
The Luxembourg-based steelmaker recorded a net loss of $3.99 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012, compared with a loss of $1 billion in the same quarter of 2011. The companys fourth-quarter revenues fell to $19.3 billion, down nearly 14 percent year on year.
"(Last year) was a very difficult year for the steel industry, particularly in Europe, where demand for steel fell a further 8.8 percent," chairman and chief executive officer Lakshmi Mittal said in a statement.
ArcelorMittal has battled lower demand in Europe by cutting costs and closing lossmaking plants. The company "took a number of important steps to address the challenges we face, including concentrating our operational footprint on our more competitive assets and reducing net debt," Mittal said.
On Jan. 24, ArcelorMittal announced that it would permanently close up to six finishing lines and a coke plant at its troubled Liége steelworks in Belgium on the back of a "further weakening of the European economy and the resultant low demand for its products."
Meanwhile, ArcelorMittals flat carbon Americas unit logged an operating loss of $138 million in the fourth quarter vs. a gain of $1 million in the same quarter of 2011 as sales dropped nearly 7 percent year on year to $4.7 billion
The segments fourth-quarter weakness was partially attributed to lower steel prices in the North American plate market and lower slab prices in Brazil and Mexico.
For the full year, ArcelorMittal reported a net loss of nearly $3.73 billion compared to a gain of $2.26 billion in 2011 on sales that fell more than 10 percent to $84.21 billion.