Shares of Russian steelmaker-cum-coalminer Mechel PAO (NYSE:MTL) shot up nearly 19% in early Monday trading before retracing ever so little. As of 11:30 a.m. EST, Mechel stock was still holding onto a respectable 17.6% gain. But why?
Two possible answers suggest themselves. Firstly, there's the 6-K filing that Mechel made with the SEC this morning, in which the company described its recent participation in the 22nd International Industrial Exhibition, Metal-Expo, at the All-Russia Exhibition Center in Moscow. According to Mechel, its "booth became one of the most visited and lively negotiation areas." Furthermore, over "four days we managed to reach dozens of new agreements, strengthen and expand long-standing partnerships," according to company CEO Andrey Ponomarev.
But lacking identification of specific partners and specific deals (and specific numbers to hang a valuation on), it's hard to imagine that this simple press release could be responsible for driving a 19% gain in Mechel stock.
Of course, there's also Mechel's upcoming third-quarter earnings news, due out mid-December. Analysts are forecasting 39% sales growth for Mechel in this announcement, which would be terrific news. But even if they're right about that, that Q3 earnings report remains a month away. If this is the reason investors are excited, they may have begun celebrating a bit early.
Fact is, even after restructuring its debt, Mechel remains deeply unprofitable (in fact, it's going on its fifth straight year of losing money), and it's hard to see why investors would be optimistic about Mechel's prospects at any time. When you add in the prospect of President-elect Trump levying increased tariffs on foreign-produced steel, now seems an especially unwise time to be getting excited about Mechel stock.