April 26, 2018 / 4:48 AM / 25 days ago

Nippon Steel annual profit jumps 71 percent on higher product prices

TOKYO (Reuters) - Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp, Japan’s biggest steelmaker, on Thursday posted a 71 percent jump in annual profit, led by healthy demand at home and higher prices of steel products, but it gave no forecast for the year just started.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp is pictured at a ceremony to welcome its newly-hired employees in Tokyo, Japan April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

The solid performance comes despite lingering worries over global trade after the United States put import duties on steel, and follows a data cheating scandal at smaller peer Kobe Steel Ltd, which undermined Japan’s reputation for manufacturing excellence.

Japanese steelmakers are enjoying the best market conditions in at least three years. Steel prices have risen on increased production by automakers, while construction is in full swing for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics.

The company’s recurring profit for the year to March 31 came to 297.54 billion yen ($2.72 billion), just shy of its own forecast of 300 billion yen and below a mean estimate of 309.95 billion yen among 13 analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Its overall net profit for the year rose 49 percent.

Still, its crude steel output for the year fell 4.6 percent to 40.67 million tonnes on a parent basis because of disruptions at some mills due to technical troubles and typhoons.

The steelmaker did not provide an earnings forecast for the current financial year, but a Thomson Reuters survey of 13 analysts has forecast a mean recurring profit of 342.8 billion yen for the year through March 2019.

($1 = 109.3100 yen)

Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Tom Hogue

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