In the third quarter of 2023, Acerinox earned a profit of 70 million euros after taxes and minority interests, resulting in a profit of 348 million euros for the first nine months of the year. While these figures are 51% and 53% below those of the same periods in 2022, they are results that “in a challenging environment reflect the company’s resilience at low points in the cycle,” as explained the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Bernardo Velázquez.
EBITDA, amounting to 146 million euros in the quarter reported (607 million euros in the first nine months of the year), remains at solid levels, especially compared to pre-COVID results, although those at present are lower than those of the exceptional financial years 2021 and 2022 (40% and 49% lower than the same periods of the latter).
Net sales from January through September, amounting to 5,079 million euros, decreased by 27% compared to the same period last year, due to low apparent demand and lower effective prices. In the third quarter, Acerinox billed 1,557 million euros, which was 28% less than in the same period last year, and 11% less than in the second quarter of 2023.
Velázquez explains that “given the market circumstances, we have concentrated our efforts on decreasing working capital and reducing debt.” The reduction of working capital by 125 million euros and strong cash generation (298 million euros in the third quarter) allowed for a debt reduction of 221 million euros, after paying out a complementary dividend of 75 million euros.
Sales of high-performance alloys grow
As for the Group’s High-Performance-Alloys Division, sales increased 13% compared to the same quarter in 2022 and 16% compared to the first nine months of the year. VDM Metals, the Acerinox Group subsidiary specializing in these alloys, reported an EBITDA of 52 million euros in the third quarter, representing a 35% increase over the same period last year and a 10% increase over the second quarter of 2023.
In May, the General Shareholders’ Meeting approved the proposed distribution of a dividend of 0.60 euros per share. An interim dividend of 0.30 euros per share was paid in January and a complementary dividend of 0.30 euros per share was distributed in July.
In 2023, a total of 150 million euros have been allocated to shareholder remuneration.
Geopolitical challenges and macroeconomic circumstances continue to have a significant impact on real demand and we do not expect a recovery during the fourth quarter.
Nevertheless, inventories in the United States and Europe have normalized, which will mean greater activity in order to replenish stocks.
The order book in the High-Performance-Alloys Division remains good, in terms of both volumes and margins.
Under these circumstances, we expect a slightly lower EBITDA than in the third quarter. EBITDA for the 2023 financial year will be the fourth best in the Group’s history.
Expected cash generation in the fourth quarter will reduce net financial debt, which we estimate will end the year below the levels of December 31, 2022.
New awards for Sustainability, with Safety as the priority
Safety is one of the Acerinox Group’s values and its top priority in all activities. The accident rate was reduced by 19% from January through September 2023 compared to the end of 2022.
Additionally, the following sustainability milestones were reached in the third quarter:
- VDM Metals was awarded the EcoVadis Gold Medal for the second consecutive year.
- Columbus Stainless received the 2023 Safety and Health Excellence Recognition for its innovation in workplace safety, awarded by the World Steel Association.
- Acerinox attained the UNE 19601 certification in compliance management, which covers all nine Spanish companies in the Group.
- Acerinox began to form a part of the IBEX ESG index, which was launched by Bolsas y Mercados Españoles (BME) to measure the sustainability impact of Spanish companies.
- Also of note, Acerinox is among the IBEX 35 companies most aligned with the European Taxonomy.