What do you do when you're the world's biggest (insert business type here) and really, really want to get some attention over in the New World, but you're headquartered in the mist-shrouded land of Old Europe?
If you're a law firm like Britain's Clifford Chance, you buy yourself a second-string New York firm, fumble the acquisition, and make headlines closing offices.
If you're a big bank like the Netherlands' ING Group
And if you're a steel corporation, you apparently have two choices. You can list your shares as full-fledged, New York Stock Exchange-traded American Depositary Receipts, as MittalSteel
Luxembourg steel giant Arcelor (OTC BB: ARLOY) chose the latter route this week when it had some particularly good profit news that it wanted to share with Wall Street. You normally have to really dig through the wire reports to find news on the world's largest current steelmaker. But, this week, Journal subscribers no doubt found Arcelor's good news hard to miss. The company bought itself a little over half a page to advertise its success: Revenues grew 16% year-on-year, operating profits more than quadrupled, and profits per share increased nearly 700% in 2004.
To which this Fool replies: That's nice, Arcelor. (Pat, pat, pat.) But you're still not NYSE-listed, and that makes it hard for little, non-investment-bank investors like yours truly to buy and sell your shares. On the other hand, for those of us who like to keep an eye on steel trends and how they might affect investments in U.S. steelmakers, such as Nucor
What insight, you ask? Well, basically the same things we've already heard from Schnitzer Steel
Now, it's important to note that this does not add up to a steel crash. Arcelor expects pricing to remain strong -- it just doesn't expect pricing to increase. But it does look as if China is key, and any slowing in that country's economic growth could spark the next steel-industry downturn.
Need more information on steel trends? Find it right here:
- How Reliant Is Reliance?
- Mittal's Riveting Performance
- Denting Steel Dynamics
- U.S. Steel: X Marks the Spot
- Steelmaker Processes a Good Quarter
Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any of the companies named above.