ArcelorMittal reported third-quarter net income this morning of $2.96 billion, or $2.10 per share a 35.8% gain from its pro-forma year-ago results. The figures sailed past analysts' expectations for $2.45 billion in earnings, or $1.79 per share, for the quarter. ArcelorMittal's Vice President of Investor Relations, Julien Onillon, said that We have a healthy market, but noted that recent price strength in the North American market was attributable to low inventories, rather than increased demand.
Sales increased 16% year-over-year to reach $25.52 billion. The steel-maker's board also proposed to raise its quarterly dividend by 15% to 37.5 cents per share, a bid that will be voted on by shareholders at the next annual meeting.
Despite the forecast-beating quarterly figures, analysts at Cheuvreux weren't impressed the broker lowered its rating on MT from outperform to underperform this morning. The stock could find support from its 20-week moving average if the downgrade sparks some selling pressure in today's trading.
ArcelorMittal also stated that it will continue to watch developments in the ongoing merger discussions between BHP Billiton (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RTP). Lakshmi Mittal said, We read the same news the rest of the world does that BHP Billiton has not yet made a formal offer. Mittal also noted that MT would change [its] strategy if necessary.