SSAB’s high-strength steels prevail in weak environment

SSAB expects lower but stable prices in the second quarter, on higher shipments compared with Q1, the steelmaker’s executives said in a conference call on Wednesday monitored by Kallanish.

The company’s operating result for Q1 amounted to SEK 3.16 billion ($290 million), a drop by around one third from the first quarter of 2023. Revenue was SEK 27.15 billion, down from SEK 31.90 billion.

The decrease compared to a year earlier was primarily due to US plate prices that reversed from a high level. The market in Europe continued to be relatively weak, whereas the market for high-strength steel was more stable, the company states.

Demand for high-strength steel was slightly lower compared to the start of 2023, mainly within segments related to the construction industry in Europe and North America. Demand for standard steel in Europe was relatively weak and restocking was less pronounced than normal, outgoing chief executive Martin Lindqvist told call participants.

Market prices for strip and heavy plate in Europe took a downturn during the first quarter following the recovery that took place at the end of 2023. Distributors adopted a cautious approach during the quarter and import volumes increased compared to a year earlier. Inventory levels in the market are estimated to be normal.

In North America, demand for heavy plate was lower and market prices fell during the first quarter. Inventory levels at North American distributors were still low, but they remained generally cautious against a backdrop of lower market prices. For the second quarter, SSAB Americas’ shipments are assessed to be somewhat higher, while prices will be somewhat lower.

Christian Koehl Germany