PARIS - Top global steelmaker ArcelorMittal (IW 1000/49) beat expectations with a 8.5% rise in operating profit to $7.2 billion (6.3 billion euros) last year thanks to a pick-up in U.S. demand, but lowered its earnings forecasts.
The result, which beat the forecast of $7 billion in EBITDA earnings the company made in August, but was partially due to cutting investments in mining activities as the price of iron ore fell.
The company cut its net loss to 1.1 billion from $2.5 billion in 2013.
ArcellorMittal was able to partially compensate for the 47% plunge in iron ore prices last year by increasing shipments, which climbed 6.9% to 63.7 million tons.
The company, which had been pummeled by the drop in steel demand in its top markets in the U.S. and Europe due to the global economic crisis, benefited from a rebound.
Steel shipments increased by 3% over the year to 85.1 million tons, with a 3.4% gain in the fourth quarter to 21.2 million tons.
"For 2015, although operating conditions remain tough we expect steel markets to continue to improve, particularly for high value-added products such as automotive, where ArcelorMittal is a world leader," chief executive Lakshmi Mittal said in a statement.
Nevertheless the company lowered expectations regarding operating profits, which it forecast to come in between $6.5 to $7 billion in 2015.
The company managed to also make progress on reducing its net debt, squeezing it down to $15.8 billion from $17.8 billion at the end of 2013.
The dividend remained unchanged at 20 cents per share.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015