Paragraph entered by Atlantic migration, in order for SteelFirst articles to display correctly on Metal Bulletin.

Operating income went up to ¥153.3 billion ($1.49 billion) in the fiscal year 2013, from ¥39.8 billion ($389 million) in the previous fiscal year.

Even though it did not break down the operating income figures by its three business segments – steel, engineering and trading – JFE noted that its steel business’s ordinary income came up to ¥126.2 billion ($1.23 billion) from only ¥15.3 billion ($149 million) in the fiscal year 2012.

Cost reductions and preventive maintenance of facilities accounted for a large part of the lift, JFE noted, with the good results helping to drive the company's total ordinary income to ¥173.6 billion ($1.69 billion) from ¥52.2 billion ($509 million).

“The Japanese economy in fiscal 2013 achieved a moderate recovery aided by robust domestic demand,” the company said in its financial results report for the year.

Steel shipments – which span from flat products like hot rolled coil, cold rolled coil, galvanized coil and plate to long steel such as wire rod and bar, and stainless and electrical steel – increased slightly for the whole period, to 25.52 million tonnes from 25.23 million tonnes.

Crude steel production rose to 31.58 million tonnes from 30.69 million tonnes, on the back of its efforts to expand sales, JFE said.

It achieved an average selling price of ¥75,700 ($739) per tonne for its steel products in fiscal 2013, up from ¥70,600 ($689) per tonne in 2012.

Its steel business saw net sales revenue increase by 7.7% to ¥2.69 trillion ($26.3 billion) due to “more favourable conditions”, including exchange rates, the company noted.

But even as it became more favourable to ship its products abroad due to the correction of the yen’s excessive appreciation in the preceding year, the export market remained uncertain as China and other emerging countries faced economic slowdowns, JFE said.

No forecast

Because of the uncertain outlook, the company is not issuing an earnings forecast for the 2014 fiscal year.

“JFE Holdings has decided not to issue fiscal 2014 consolidated earnings forecasts at this time due to shortened contract periods for primary raw materials and ongoing negotiations concerning the prices of steel products, which have made it impossible to compile rational forecasts,” it said.

“The company will disclose these forecasts as soon as more accurate forecasts become possible.”