West Chester, Ohio-based AK Steel (NYSE:AKS) updated investors on its expectations for steel shipments, average selling prices, and earnings for Q1 in an announcement Friday.

Q1 2013 steel shipments are expected to range between 1.275 million and 1.3 million tons in Q1, a 7% to 10% sequential decline from Q4 2012 levels. The amount of steel shipments destined for the automotive sector, however, is expected to increase. This increase will be offset by what the company calls "normal cyclical" weakness in the spot steel market.

AK is projecting a 5% sequential increase in average selling prices per ton, to approximately $1,060, attributing this rise to improved "product mix." Raw material costs are expected to decline.

Despite higher prices and lower costs, however, the company expects to lose between $0.09 and $0.13 per diluted share in Q1, numbers that the company defended as representing "a significant improvement" compared with the fourth quarter of 2012 -- in which quarter AK recorded a $1.90-per-diluted-share net loss. A one-time tax-accounting-related charge of $4 million to $5 million will contribute to the Q1 loss.

AK shares declined 4.6% in Friday trading, closing at $3.31.