Aurubis issued a profit warning on Tuesday November 5 after metal sales dropped in its fiscal fourth quarter and scrap and acid markets remained problematic.

Preliminary figures indicate a pre-tax loss of €233 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, compared with profits of €516 million in the 2012/13 year, the company advised on Tuesday November 5.

The headline loss was mainly due to negative valuation effects arising from a sharp drop in metal prices, but the company’s overall performance was also weakened by unfavourable scrap and sulphuric acid markets.

Operating earnings – an unaudited metric which Aurubis uses to strip out the effect of metal price movements and other factors to measure the underlying performance of the business – stood at €111 million in its fiscal year, compared with €296 million in 2012/13.

Metal prices improved during its fiscal fourth quarter after nose-diving in the third, leading to pre-tax earnings of €53 million, while its operating result for the same period showed a €22 million loss, as metal production dropped during large-scale maintenance at its Hamburg plant.

“The entire year was impacted by poor copper scrap and sulphuric acid markets as well as weak product markets, which continued to be affected by economic factors,” Aurubis ceo Peter Willbrandt told investors on Tuesday.

“There were also negative valuation effects due to much lower precious metal prices. Furthermore, our two large projects in Hamburg and the restructuring of our flat products line weighed on earnings,” Willbrandt said.

The company expects some of those strains to disappear in the next financial year as Hamburg returns to normal operations and the restructuring of its flat-rolled production division is completed, Willbrandt said.

Aurubis’s Frankfurt-listed shares dropped as much as 5% after the announcement, and were trading at €45 per share at 16:40 CET, down from a previous closing price of €47.20.

The company is set to publish its full accounts for the year on December 16.

Mark Burton
Twitter: @mburtonmb