ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steelmaker, said ib Dec. 10 it had made a modest profit in 2009, beating expectations it would lose out because of the sharp fall in prices for metals.
The company said it finished the year up $118 million, mainly thanks to a profit of $1.07 billion in the fourth quarter as economic growth returned to major markets and steel prices recovered.
"We therefore start the year in a good position to benefit from the progressive, albeit slow, recovery that is under way," chief executive Lakshmi Mittal said.
"Although 2010 will continue to be challenging, we are now increasing capital expenditure to take advantage of selected growth opportunities as demand improves," he said.
In 2008, ArcelorMittal had made a net profit of $9.4 billion and the much slimmer 2009 profit represents a small margin compared to the firm's $65 billion turnover from steel production.
Mittal said that a return to growth in emerging markets had helped offset shrinking demand in the major industrial powers that suffered the brunt of the financial crisis. "The crisis has reinforced the relevance of the emerging economies, where ArcelorMittal already has a strong position," he said.
"But this does not mean that all markets have come back to 2008 levels. Developed markets will still be down by 22% compared with 2008. Growth in the emerging markets is compensating for the loss," he explained.
Last year ArcelorMittal, which has a presence in 60 countries, produced 73.2 million tons of steel, approximately 6% of total world output.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010