U.S. Steel, the largest U.S.
steel producer, reported a 50 percent drop in 1998 fourth
quarter profits on Friday and complained that the White House
was not doing enough to halt a flood of cheap steel imports.
Including reduced interest expenses and the cost of a
voluntary early retirement package, profits fell to $76 million,
or 81 cents per share, from $152 million, or $1.64 per share, a
Excluding the special items, the results easily beat Wall
Street expectations: income totalled $59 million, or 63 cents
per share, compared with analysts' consensus earnings estimate
of 32 cents.
With a surge in steel imports that started in mid-1998 that
the company described as "unprecedented volumes" at
"predatory prices," quarterly revenue fell 22 percent, to $1.4
billion, from $1.8 billion in the 1997 quarter. Production at
all company facilities was cut to less efficient levels, it
U.S. Steel, voicing the same concerns that the steel
industry had when President Clinton in early January proposed
tax breaks and pressure on Japan to help U.S. companies, said it
was considering formal complaints against more countries.
"Unfortunately, the administration's plan was extremely
disappointing and fell far short of what will be required to
rectify the import crisis and the extreme hardship it is
imposing on the domestic steel industry, its workers and their
communities," USX Corp. Chairman Thomas Usher said. U.S. Steel
is part of USX.
About 400 U.S. Steel workers accepted the voluntary buyout
plan, out of 550 eligible employees, resulting on a
fourth-quarter charge of $10 million.
In early trading on the New York Stock Exchange, bucking a
sell-off in the broader markets, U.S. Steel shares rose 12.5
cents to $27.125. In September, the stock hit $20.44, its lowest
level in at least five years.