ACERINOX GROUP REGISTERED A LOSS OF 10.5 MILLION EUROS AFTER HAVING CARRIED OUT EXTRAORDINARY PROVISIONS AMOUNTING TO 128 MILLION EUROS

 

During 2008 the investments have totalled 342 million euros

The Group financial strength  and its international dimension allows to maintain its estrategic plan, which will confirm its leading position worldwide.

The Excellence Plan 2009-2010, presented to the Board of Directors, will involve a yearly reduction of expenses of 133 million euros
 

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Markets

The year 2008 has been featured by the reduction of demand, particularly in the second half of the year, as a result of nickel strong correction  and the collapse affecting the industrial activity in the fourth quarter.  The combined effect of these factors has made 2008 to become the worst year in history for the stainless steel industry. 

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The market had quite a good behaviour during the first quarter of the year, with a recovery of demand and better base prices in all the markets, improving significantly the situation of the second quarter of year 2007.
 

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The strong correction of nickel prices led to a demand drop and a price weakening worldwide, intensified by the general economic situation , with the subsequent plunge of  stainless steel prices


European market

The deliveries of  cold rolled flat products producers increased by 3.8% with regard to year 2008, but during such period they had dropped by 14.1% against the previous year.  The imports from third countries decreased by 25% in the whole of the year due to the progressive demand fall and the price weakening in the European market.   
 

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Concerning long products, deliveries from European producers went down by 7.9% with regard to 2007 and the imports also decreased by 10.5%.

In the Spanish market, which is 11% of the whole of our sales,  the global crisis has affected it been more due to the Spanish market structure itself, very dependant on the construction sector, which sharp fall brought the world financial crisis effects forward. Although, in general, sales have fallen in almost all the sectors during the year, the house appliances and automobile sectors have been the most damaged by the plunge of demand .  Deliveries of cold rolled flat products were 15.1% lower than in year 2007 and hot rolled flat products deliveries decreased by 4.2%,  Regarding long products, there was a 9% drop. Deliveries in Europe decreased and the imports from third countries kept stable. 


U.S. market

Regarding the US market in year 2008, productions have had downward adjustments to match the demand fall. Inventories of the service centres reached all time lows.
 

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Apparent consumption for flat products decreased by 20% against the previous year.

Regarding long products, apparent consumption was 1.16% lower than in year 2007.


Asian market

For the first time in the last years, Asia shows a decrease of its stainless steel production, caused by the fall of local demand and the decrease of its exports tot he European and U.S. markets.

Even China productions, which has been the main engine of the area in the last years, have fallen with regard to year 2007, according to our estimates, keeping its factories with very low operation levels in the last quarter of the year.


World production

The stainless steel world production has dropped by 9% (according to our estimates), reflecting the above mention situation, which has affected all the production areas.
 

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This production fall has worsened during the fourth quarter as a result of the current world recession scene. 
 

Production

The Group melting production, 2.04 million Mt and the cold rolling production, 1.30 million Mt, decreased by 11.5% and 10.3% respectively with regard to the outputs achieved in year 2007.  In this year ACERINOX was the first stainless steel producer worldwide.
 

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Results

The Group net sales, 5,051 million euros, decreased by 26.8% against the invoiced figure of the previous year.  The already mentioned market plunge of the second half of the year has significantly affected deliveries of year 2008, with an average price which, as a whole, is far lower.
  

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The geographical distribution of the consolidated Group sales keeps its rates over the total net sales to America, Africa and Oceania, having slightly increased with regard with the invoiced figure rate in Europe (44.1%), at the expense of a lower turnover in the Asian market (13.6%).
 

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The troubles affecting the stainless steel sector in view of the world industrial activity collapse, has led us to carry out a provision to adjust inventories to net realizable values for an amount of 128.4 million euros. This extraordinary provision is the cause of the loss registered by ACERINOX GROUP for the first time since year 1977.  Should this provision had not been carried out, we would have achieved a positive result before taxes of 111.7 million euros in year 2008.
 

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In year 2008 ACERINOX GROUP results after taxes registered a loss of 10.5 million euros, due to the above mentioned situation.  
 

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Consolidated Group condensed profit and loss account
 

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Consolidated Group condensed balance sheet
 

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Liquidity and financing

The financial strength of the Group allow us to be optimistic, because the group net debt, 939 million euros, which over own funds is 46.5%, uses less than 50% of the available credit lines.
 

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This debt is similar to the figure of the previous year, in spite of the important investment carried out during the year, 342 million euros, and also the acquisition of own shares for an amount of 127.4 million euros.
 

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The Group has 616 million euros of long term debt (66% of the net financial debt), which guarantees the Group liquidity to finance the working capital and to keep the investment plan, even when the consequences of the current international recession will expand more than foreseen. 
 
 
Return to shareholders

Our trust in ACERINOX future allows us to keep our policy of consolidating the return to shareholders. That is the reason why the Board of Directors intends to pay a second dividend on account of year 2008 of 0.10 euros per share on the 3rd April and a complementary one in July of 0.15 euros per share and an issue premium of 0.10 euros per share, subject to the approval of the General Shareholders Meeting.   All this involves a total retribution of 0.45 euros per share.

Likewise, so as to create value for the company shareholders, making the most of the share juncture and the strong financial situation of the society, we have proceed to redeem 2% of the share capital.   Later, treasury stock additional shares have been also purchased, which at the end of the year totalled 1.8% of the share capital.
 

 

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NISSHIN STEEL INCREASES ITS STAKE TO 15%

On the 4th February 2009 NISSHIN STEEL, ACERINOX shareholder since its foundation, announced the increase of its stake to 15%, from its previous stake of 11.33%.

This increase was carried out by means of the purchase of 9,359,000 shares in the Stock Exchange.

Regarding this purchase, NISSHIN STEEL informs that it will proceed to consolidate ACERINOX results in its own results by the equivalence method.

Likewise, NISSHIN STEEL points out that the purpose of this acquisition is to tighten its relationship with ACERINOX and help to find new collaboration fields for the future, apart from the development of its stake (30%) in the construction project of the Malaysia factory.
 

Investment

The Group  strategy during these years,  based upon the geographical distribution of the production centres, offers us a global presence, which also allow us to palliate the international crisis effects.

ACERINOX financial strength and our trust in the role it is going to play in the sector future, make us continue with our investment plan development according to schedule in Campo de Gibraltar Factory, and the U.S. and South Africa markets.

With the start-up of the new production equipment both in NORTH AMERICAN STAINLESS and COLUMBUS STAINLESS a new production level is reached according with the following distribution:
 

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In February 2008 we decided to begin, by stages, a new project in Malaysia.  This decision, taken after a thorough feasibility study together with other alternative, resulted in the construction of an integrated production plant in Johor Bahru. 

On the 15th January 2009 a final agreement was signed with NISSHIN STEEL, which gives structure to its share in BAHRU STAINLESS project.  NISSHIN STEEL stake will be 30%, METAL ONE will hold 3%, while ACERINOX stake will be 67%.

The main equipment of the first phase have already been awarded:

  •  Annealing and pickling line for hot and cold rolled coils.
  •  No.1 cold rolling mill Sendzimir
  •  Skinpass
  •  Finishing lines

The factory is expected to come onto stream with its finishing operation during 2009 and the cold rolling operations at the end of 2010.

We are convinced that with the current distribution of our assets, we have an exceptional strategic position in our sector, being the only world producer with integrated factories located in three continents.  This advantage will be even more enhanced in the future with the construction of our plant in Malaysia. 
 

Current market situation and adjustment measures

The adjustment measures in the factories to match production with demand taken in the last quarter 2008, have been still in force during the first months of year 2009. Additional measures have been taken  to face the market situation more properly

CAMPO DE GIBRALTAR factory

A temporal labour adjustment plan has been approved for most of the factory staff (1.835 employees) with the agreement of the workers representatives and supported by 82.6% of the voters.  This agreement involves to reduce the labour time by 50% until the end of the year.  It is also foreseen that if the market conditions allow it, this temporal labour adjustment plan will be cancelled or corrected.  A similar temporal labour adjustment plan has also been presented for ROLDAN,S.A. factory in Ponferrada (León). 

The rest of the Group has continued with the policy of adjusting staff and reducing fixed costs so as to match productions with demand.

All these adjustment measures involve a monthly saving of 9.8 million euros.

 
Excellence Plan 2009 – 2010

The Excellence Plan 2009-2010 has been implemented. This plan has evolved from the jobs developed in the last two years and sharing-ideas meetings with the best operation practices among the Group factories.  These jobs, which have had excellent results and involved important cost savings so far, have been extended to new areas and with new aims for years 2009-2010 and will involve a yearly saving of 133 million euros.

This plan aims at improving  the production, logistic, trading and distribution fields. 
 


 Outlook

 Irrespective of the current situation off markets, demand and prices, we feel optimistic regarding the stainless steel future in the medium and long term, which will recover a growth rate similar to that accumulated in the last 58 years, close to 6% yearly. 

Besides, there is a positive aspect derived from the fall of raw materials prices and it is that the stainless steel has now a new competitiveness level, which, undoubtedly will promote consumption in the medium term and the development of new applications. 

The future consumption increased will be supported by the incorporation to higher development levels of highly populated countries, with current levels of per capita income in the threshold of development and small per capita consumptions of stainless steel. 

In this context the development of our investment strategy trough the organic growth, geographical diversification of our assets, financial strength and global presence will allow us to confirm our leading position worldwide.

  

Data by companies


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(*) Acerinox has received dividens from subsidiaries for an amount of 137 million euros.
 


Condensed cash flow statements of the Consolidated Group
  

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Main economic and financial magnitudes