Cost-Cutting Initiatives Yield Improving Results at ArcelorMittal

ArcelorMittal (NYSE: MT  ) reported fourth-quarter and full-year results today. The steelmaker reported a loss of $1.2 billion or $0.69 per share on the quarter. However, fourth-quarter EBITDA was $1.9 billion and the company was free cash flow positive for the year. Overall, ArcelorMittal continues to show improvement as its EBITDA was up 23% from the prior year's fourth quarter and its losses continue to narrow.

The company reported sales of $19.8 billion in the fourth quarter, which is a slight gain from the  year-ago fourth quarter. This was driven in part by stronger steel and iron ore shipments. ArcelorMittal grew its steel shipments in the quarter by 4.4% over last year's fourth quarter. Meanwhile, iron or shipments for the full year grew by 9.6% over 2012.

In addition to strong shipments, the company continues to cuts costs in an effort to improve underlying profitability and cash flow. These cost-cutting efforts are forcing ArcelorMittal to take large write-offs that are leading to the reported quarterly losses. However, these efforts continue to improve the company's finances as evidenced by the fact that the company cut its net debt by $5.7 billion during 2013. Because of that its net debt is at the lowest level since the creation of ArcelorMittal in 2006.

Looking ahead the company expects to grow its 2014 EBITDA to about $8 billion. Further, it expects to see steel shipments rise by another 3%, while its iron ore shipments should increase by 15%. That should allow the company to continue to improve its balance sheet and create value for its investors. 

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