CEO: AK Steel making progress

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AK Steel’s business is making progress, “although that progress might not always be obvious in our numbers,” the company’s chief executive said Tuesday in remarks to investors on second-quarter financial results.

West Chester Twp.-based AK Steel Holding Corp. reported Tuesday a net loss for the April through June quarter of $40.4 million. This marks eight consecutive quarters of net losses for the Butler County steelmaker.

The results compare to a net loss of $724.2 million in the year-ago quarter, and a net loss of $9.9 million in the January to March quarter of 2013.

Results were impacted by two outages in the second quarter at the Middletown Works blast furnace, AK Steel’s largest steel plant.

The first was a planned seven-day maintenance outage, the first major maintenance outage to the blast furnace since it was relined in 2009, AK Steel said. The planned outage was a $21.6 million expense, compared to maintenance costs of $1 million in the second quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013.

A mechanical failure June 22 at Middletown Works caused the blast furnace to be shut down. The blast furnace was restarted on July 12, and is being ramped up to full production, the company said.

The unexpected outage cost the company $6.2 million in the second quarter, according to reported results. Company officials currently expect the uninsured portion of losses in stemming from the unplanned outage will be an additional $12 million to $17 million.

“Excluding the costs associated with maintenance outages at our Middletown Works blast furnace – both planned and unplanned – our second-quarter results represented an improvement over our first quarter of 2013 results,” James Wainscott, chairman, president and chief executive officer of AK Steel, said.

“Unfortunately, however, sometimes your forward progress is halted due to events that are outside of your control. That was certainly the case in the second quarter of 2013,” he said.

AK Steel’s stock price rose 3.5 percent in trading Tuesday to close at $3.55 per share.

Net sales in the second quarter of the year totaled $1.4 billion on shipments of 1,323,700 tons of steel. Sales were lower than a year ago, when AK Steel had net sales of $1.5 billion on shipments of 1,335,800 tons in the second quarter of 2012.

However, sales last quarter were greater than the prior January to March quarter; AK Steel had net sales of $1.37 billion on shipments of 1,289,800 tons for the first quarter 2013.

AK Steel said it experienced its best automotive shipment quarter since the third quarter of 2007.

AK Steel produces flat-rolled carbon, electrical and stainless steels used by the automotive, appliance, construction and manufacturing markets.