May 4, 2009 / 4:56 PM / in 11 years

UPDATE 1-Acerinox sees stainless steel pickup in Q3

* Q1 net loss 93 mln euros vs 67 mln eur profit 12 mths ago

* Sees the stainless steel market rebounding in Q3

(Adds outlook, financial details, background)

MADRID, May 4 (Reuters) - The world’s biggest stainless steel producer, Acerinox (ACX.MC), said on Monday it saw the market recovering in the third quarter after poor sales and weak prices pushed the Spanish firm into a first quarter loss.

“The stability of nickel in recent months together with the very low level of stocks in all markets gives us confidence in a recovery of the market in the third quarter,” said the company.

Acerinox fell to a 93 million euro loss compared with a 67 million euro profit in the first quarter of 2008.

The result was near more pessimistic forecasts by five analysts polled by Reuters, which ranged from 47 million euros to 103 million.

Weak demand forced the company to cut production to 339,600 tonnes — down 46 percent on a year ago but up 19 percent on the fourth quarter — and that pushed revenues down to 617 million compared to 1.57 billion euros in the first three months of 2008.

“In recent weeks signs of a recovery in the principal markets have started to appear which have allowed us to announce price rises in Europe and the United States,” said Acerinox.

The company said it raised European and U.S. base prices by some 100 euros a tonne in April.

The company told Reuters in late February the price of its benchmark 304-grade steel had fallen to about 950 euros/tonne, compared with about 1,700 euros/tonne in 2006, while an alloy surcharge pushed the final price to 4,500 euros.

Acerinox shares are barely changed since the start of the year but have under-performed the DJ European basic resources index .SXPP by 20 percent over that time. They closed at 11.81 euros on Monday, a 1.6 percent rise, before results were published.

The company has cut production at its three factories to 50 percent of their capacity as the economic crisis suffocates demand for the rust-proof alloy used in kitchen fittings and equipment.

After posting worse-than-expected results last month, Finnish rival Outokumpu (OUT1V.HE) indicated stainless steel producers would continue to feel the pain of the global economic crisis in the second quarter at the very least. [ID:nLN550646]

Acerinox said losses before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of 98 million euros compared with earnings of 137 million a year earlier. (Reporting by Ben Harding; Editing by David Cowell)

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