ArcelorMittal raises dividend, announces new $1 billion capital return

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FILE PHOTO: ArcelorMittal steelworks in Aviles

By Marine Strauss

BRUSSELS – ArcelorMittal, the world’s second largest steelmaker, said on Thursday it would increase its dividend and announced a new $1 billion capital return for the first half of the year after reporting better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings.

The uplift brings the capital returns announced by the company since September 2020 to $7.2 billion. It will seek further authorisation to repurchase shares at its annual general meeting. It raised its dividend from $0.30 per share to $0.38, a 27% increase.

Meanwhile, the company’s net debt increased to $4.03 billion from $3.87 billion, 15.3% above ING analysts’ expectations. Shares were down 2.93% to 28.52 euros as of 0941 GMT.

ArcelorMittal said it expects steel consumption, excluding China, to grow between 2.5% and 3% and sees its own steel shipments rising by 3% in 2022. It sees a positive medium to long-term outlook for steel with inventories now replenished and demand recovery continuing, particularly if the automotive supply chain constraints ease.

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The group also said the global steel industry would benefit from structural changes occurring in China, including: China’s focus on decarbonisation and the removal of VAT‐rebates on steel exports.

Fourth-quarter core profit (EBITDA), the figure most watched by the market, was $5.05 billion, almost five times the year-ago figure. That was slightly higher than the average forecast of $4.95 billion in a company poll.

The company expects strong EBITDA and free cash flow generation in 2022.

(Reporting by Marine Strauss, Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Shailesh Kuber and David Evans)