THE ACERINOX GROUP REACHS RECORD FIGURES IN THE FIRST NINE MONTHS OF 2004. THE PROFIT AFTER TAXES IS 2.14 TIMES HIGHER THAN THAT OF THE SAME PERIOD OF THE PREVIOUS YEAR

The stainless steel consumption in the first nine months of 2004 has been characterized by its strength in all the markets, in spite of the prices imposed by the exceptional rise in all raw materials prices.
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The stainless steel consumption in the first nine months of 2004 has been characterized by its strength in all the markets, in spite of the prices imposed by the exceptional rise in all raw materials prices.

In this context, the aggregate production of the three melting shops of the Group has increased 5.7 % reaching 1,696,792 Mt. The cold rolled production, 987,077 Mt, has increased 7.6 %, due to the contribution of the new cold rolling mills of North America and South Africa, which were started up in February and August respectively.

The good trend of the Acerinox Group in these nine months demonstrates the great advantage of having three very competitive factories with an integrated production process, complemented also by a long product one and other one for wire, placed in three geographical areas, with three different currencies, and a network of commercial subsidiaries and service centres all over the world.

The production of the melting shop in the parent company, Acerinox, S.A., 617,242 Mt, is 11 % lower than that of the first nine months of 2003, due to the 29 day strike in the factory of Campo de Gibraltar, and to the last summer exceptional cuts in the electricity supply, without precedents in our history. The result after taxes, 74.25 million Euro is 9.1% lower than that of the first nine months of 2003.

North American Stainless has taken advantage from the excellent situation of the American market, with an increase of the consumption up to 11 %. The melting shop production to September, 498,714 Mt, is 34.9 % higher than that of the same period of last year, but is still bellow its theorical capacity. The result after taxes, 119.16 million USD, is 5.15 times that of the same period of 2003.

Columbus Stainless has had, likewise, a very positive evolution with an increase of its melting production of 9.1 %, reaching 526,836 Mt. The profit after taxes, 39.6 million Euro, is 14 times higher than that of the previous year in spite of the continued appreciation of the South African rand against the US dollar and even against the Euro.
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The net sales of the Group, almost 3,000 million Euro, is 41.4 % higher than that of the first nine months of 2003. The result before taxes of the Group, 370.49 million Euro over is 2.5 times higher than that of the previous business year, and the result after taxes and minorities, 233 million Euros, 2.14 times.

The highest contribution to the Consolidated Group result is coming from NAS, with a 42.8% of the result after taxes and minorities of the Group. This contribution proves the success of the Strategic Plan defined originally.

The Board of Directors, following its traditional policy of improving the quarterly return to the shareholder in those business years with an increase of profits and to maintain it in those of decrease, has agreed, in its meeting held today, to distribute a gross interim dividend of 0.07 Euro per share next January 4, 2005, which is 21.74% higher to the one paid last January 5, 2004.