In this framework, the companies of our Group have achieved record productions. The melting shop totalled 2.6 million Mt (+15.5%), which confirms our leadership as the second stainless steel producer worldwide. Flat products hot rolling production amounted to 2.2 million Mt, which is 11.7% higher and cold rolling production, 1.6 million Mt, increases by 8.5%. Long products output, 252,000 Mt, also increased by 28%.
The strategy of geographical diversification of the Group factories and the successful investments carried out in the last years, have allowed us to take full advantage of the good market situation in order to obtain record results.
ACERINOX, S.A. has increased its melting production by 11.3% up to 1.01 million Mt. With Net Sales amounting to 2,279 million euros, 42% higher, Net Results, 140.3 million euros, have also been 96.2% higher.
NORTH AMERICAN STAINLESS (NAS) has increased its melting shop production to 849,504 Mt, which means 10.7% increase. Net Sales, 2,505 million USD, is 26.4% higher and Net Profit, 240.4 million USD, also increases by 80%.
Our South African Subsidiary, COLUMBUS STAINLESS, has increased its melting shop production by 28.7% up to 727,132 Mt. Net Sales, 1,459 million euros, is 74% higher and its Net Profit has totalled 111.2 million euros.
Our long products factory, ROLDAN, S.A., has also achieved record results, 151,589 Mt, 17% higher than the outputs obtained in 2005. Net Sales, 412 million euros, improves by 28% productions of the year before and Net Profit, 16.5 million euros, is 2.4 times the figure of 2005.
In year 2006 two new service centres have been brought into operation in North America: Guelph (Canada) and Atlanta (USA), apart from two new warehouses in China (Shangai y Foshan).
ACERINOX Group has undertaken an ambitious investment program for 2007 and 2008 for an amount of 437 million euros, which will rise the melting shop capacity to 3.5 million Mt, the hot rolling capacity to 3.1 million Mt, out of which 2 million Mt correspond to cold rolling capacity. Long Product capacity will increase up to 400,000 Mt.
ACERINOX, S.A. Board of Directors in its meeting held on the 27th February has approved a second Interim dividend on account on Year 2006, for 0.10 euros per share, which will be effective on the 4th April.