EghtesadOnline: Khouzestan Steel Company exported more than 1.22 million tons of steel products in the first five months of the current Iranian year (started March 21), registering an 81.4% increase compared to last year’s corresponding period, KSC’s exports manager said.
“We have boosted our exports by 550,448 tons compared to last year,” KSC’s public relations also quoted Mohammad Hossein Emam as saying, adding that KSC has already beaten estimates and shipped 65% of the 1.88 million tons it exported in the last fiscal year (2016-17).
The steelmaker, located in the southwestern Khouzestan Province, exports to 13 countries. About 50% of the exports are shipped to the Middle East and North Africa region, 40% to the Far East and around 10% to Americas, Financial Tribune reported.
KSC produced over 1.55 million tons of slab, bloom and billet in the five-month period, according to company data.
Slabs made up 545,734 tons of the overall figure, as billets and blooms together accounted for 1.007 million. Sales revenue for the period stood at 25 trillion rials (over $649 million).
According to the company manager, Modarres Khiabani, the company’s profits in the last fiscal year jumped by over 300% to 6.7 trillion rials ($176.31 million) compared to the year before.
The sharp rise came as KSC became Iran’s biggest exporter of steel last year, overtaking Iran’s largest steelmaker Mobarakeh Steel Company. KSC shipped about 52% of its 3.6-million-ton output for the year and plans to increase its output capacity to 5 million tons a year within two years.
Khiabani believes KSC is on a fast track to growth, pointing to the company’s track record over the past four years.
“In 2013-14, we exported only 21,000 tons or 6% of our annual production. The following year it reached 627,000 tons or 18% of output. Then in 2015-16, it doubled to 1.36 million tons or nearly 40% of our production. Finally, it reached 1.9 million tons last year. Putting the statistics together can clearly show how Khouzestan Steel has grown as an exporter,” he said.
The manager noted that exports actually helped keep the company afloat during the 2015-16 market crisis, as all-time low local demand levels had aligned with significantly sinking global prices.
“We were selling at a loss in Q4 of the year. And if it wasn’t for the focus on exports, we would have been dealing with a lot of financial issues like other producers,” he said.
In line with its vision for expansion, the company has so far invested $40.68 million in projects for “capacity expansion, technology development and production efficiency and sustainability”, according to data released on Tehran Stock Exchange. The projects are expected to be finalized by 2021.
KSC’s investors seem to be confident about the company’s shares on Tehran Stock Exchange. “FKHZ”, with a market capitalization of $1.53 billion, has been on the rise for 16 days out of last month’s total 25 trading days. Its earnings per share and P/E ratio stand at 614 rials and 6.68 respectively, and KSC’s share price stood at 4,050 rials per share on Saturday. The price is considered to be at the upper spectrum of the Base Metals group at TSE.
Iran’s semi-finished steel exports have been on the rise this year. According to Iran Steel Producers Association, the country shipped a total of 2.13 million tons of semis in four months (March 21-July 22), up 67% year-on-year. Slab shipments had the highest YOY growth–228% to 1.119 million tons.
Semis output grew 17% YOY to 7.062 million during the period.
Iran’s massive steel expansion plan requires continuous capacity-making and increased focus on exports.
The government plans to make Iran the world’s sixth largest steelmaker by 2025 by amassing 55 million tons of steelmaking capacity. The country has so far realized about 60% of the target.
Experts believe that sustaining such a production ratio can only be feasible if exports reach at least 20-25 million tons.