WEST CHESTER, Ohio (AP) -- AK Steel Holding Corp. posted a profit Monday for the fourth-quarter in contrast to a big loss a year ago and reported a 28 percent rise in shipments.
AK Steel officials said that the market for steel, which was heavily impacted by the recession, has been steadily improving.
"AK Steel met the severe economic crisis of 2009 head-on and emerged as a stronger company," said James L. Wainscott, the company's president and CEO.
The results topped Wall Street forecasts, and AK Steel shares rose 72 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $20.91 in morning trading after rising as high as $21.94 earlier in the session.
AK Steel earned $39.8 million, or 36 cents per share, in the last three months of 2009, in contrast to a loss of $430 million, or $3.87 per share, in the same quarter a year ago.
The year-ago quarter was dragged down by a $699.5 million pre-tax charges related to pensions. Results for the latest quarter were hurt by a $5.1 million charge related to taxes.
Sales dropped 9 percent to $1.32 billion from $1.46 billion a year ago. However, AK Steel shipped 1.37 million tons of product during the quarter, about 300,000 tons more than the same period of 2008.
The lower sales reflected lower selling prices during the 2009 fourth quarter -- $964 per ton versus $1,359 a ton a year ago, the company said.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected, on average, earnings of 20 cents per share on sales of $1.25 billion.
For all of 2009, AK Steel lost $74.6 million, or 68 cents per share, versus a profit of $4 million, or 4 cents a share, in 2008. Sales fell to $4.08 billion from $7.64 billion a year ago.
The company said it expects 2010 first quarter shipments to be on par with the 2009 fourth-quarter results. Average selling prices are expected to rise between four percent and five percent.