SOURCE: Rothman Research

Rothman Research

April 22, 2010 08:27 ET

Steel & Iron Industry Giants' Latest Readings

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA--(Marketwire - April 22, 2010) - -- There was a revolution with big consequences in the steel and iron market lately, with the adoption of the quarterly price mechanism to the detriment of the one year benchmark pricing system. The three biggest iron ore miners, Vale, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto plc (NYSE: RTP), now have cartel like control over the market and have already started increasing prices for iron ore on basis that China's demand for metal is on an uptrend. Rio Tinto which announced lower-than-anticipated readings for its first quarter 2010 operations review, citing poor weather conditions in many areas where it has operations going, also reported some positive figures for iron-ore production that was up by 7.8%. The company, additionally, provided positive iron ore production guidance for 2010. 

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On Tuesday, AK Steel Holding Corp. (NYSE: AKS) reported a first quarter 2010 profit with revenue at $14.41 billion from $9.22.2 million in the same time period in 2009. However, with fear of a price inflation soon thumping the industry, the company abstained from providing a second-quarter earnings forecast. "AK Steel has basically raised the alarm of a possible inflationary cloud looming over the manufacturing chain. The ambiguity with global iron ore prices is starting to gain momentum in the industry, so we are expecting flat to below-average outlooks from others in the industry in the couple of weeks as earnings reports continue to flow," commented Jack Benassi of

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At this point, a few key elements are noteworthy of investors' attention, first and foremost demand of iron ore from China; will this be a long term trend? Secondly, the resilience of the U.S. economic recovery which has been snail-paced until now; for the steel and iron industry recovery focus in the U.S. will be on the construction markets and automobile industry. 

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