MOSCOW, May 11 (Reuters) - MMK, one of Russia's largest steelmakers, said on Thursday its first-quarter core earnings more than doubled compared with a year ago due to higher steel prices.
MMK, Russia's third-largest steel producer and rivals, including leading Russian steelmaker NLMK, have benefited this year from rising prices after two years in which steel prices hit multi-year lows and a Russian economic crisis hurt domestic demand.
Its adjusted earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose to $452 million in the first three months of 2017 from $219 million a year ago, MMK said in a statement.
MMK's net profit increased by 53.5 percent to $241 million, with revenue up 58.1 percent to $1.7 billion. Its sale prices rose 76.8 percent while shipping volumes for finished products were stable.
Its shares were up 0.8 percent in Moscow, compared with a 0.2 percent fall in the broader MICEX index.
Russian businessman Viktor Rashnikov owns 87 percent of MMK and may consider selling 2 percent of the company's shares, investment firm Aton said in a note in December.
Asked in March if he was considering selling the stake, Rashnikov said that the market was unfavourable for MMK to sell shares from his point of view because "we had a (market) capitalisation of $8 billion, now it's $6.5 billion."
Since then, MMK's market value has reached $6.7 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.
MMK also said in its statement it expected Russia's 2017 steel demand to be 1-2 percent higher than in 2016.
The company also said it was is experiencing a slowdown in domestic demand due to high reserves accumulated by traders, but it expected these reserves to decline to normal level by June, with domestic demand returning to its usual seasonal levels. (Reporting by Polina Devitt; editing by Alexander Winning and Jane Merriman)