AK Steel Holding Corp. (NYSE: AKS) slipped to a loss in the first quarter of 2019 from a profit last year, due to higher costs and expenses as well as a drop in flat-rolled steel shipments. The bottom line exceeded analysts’ expectations while the top line missed consensus estimates. Meanwhile, the company lowered its earnings guidance for fiscal 2019 due to change in hot-rolled carbon spot market pricing.
Net loss was $4.5 million or $0.01 per share compared to a profit of $28.7 million or $0.09 per share in the previous year quarter. Adjusted earnings soared by 156% to $0.23 per share.
Net sales rose by 2% to $1.7 billion. The increase was due to higher selling prices for most products and increased shipments to the distributors and converters market, partly offset by lower shipments to the automotive market. Flat-rolled steel shipments declined by 3% year-over-year, while selling price per flat-rolled steel ton increased by 6%.
Looking ahead into fiscal 2019, the company lowered its net income outlook to the range of $76 million to $96 million from the prior range of $160 million to $180 million. EPS guidance was reduced to the range of $0.24 to $0.30 from the prior range of $0.51 to $0.57. Adjusted EBITDA forecast is cut to the range of $505 million to $525 million from the previous estimate range of $515 million to $535 million.
The company said it updated its annual guidance based on the change in hot-rolled carbon spot market pricing from about $720 per ton in January to about $690 per ton currently. The company’s annual guidance had indicated that for every $10 change in the carbon hot-rolled coil spot market price, annual earnings would be impacted by $5 million to $7 million.
Excluding the impact of the Ashland Works closure, adjusted net income is expected to be in the range of $153 million to $173 million, or $0.48 to $0.54 per diluted share. This excludes the effects of the Ashland Works charge of $77.4 million recorded in the first quarter of 2019.
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The company expects working capital to be a small source of cash for the year. Planned maintenance outage expenditures in 2019 are still expected to be $70 million to $80 million and substantially heavier in the second and fourth quarters. The company predicts to have a similar level of adjusted EBITDA between the first half and the second half of the year.
In January 2019, the company announced its intention to close its Ashland Works facility. The Ashland Works facility includes a blast furnace and steelmaking operations which were idled in December 2015, and a hot dip galvanizing coating line, which has remained operational. The company is transitioning its products to its other US coating lines and will close the Ashland Works line before the end of 2019.
Shares of AK Steel ended Monday’s regular session up 2.93% at $2.46 on the NYSE. Following the earnings release, the stock inched up over 3% in the after-market session.
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