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The nation’s five major steelmakers Monday announced dire earnings reports for fiscal 1998, with three of them slipping into the red and the other two suffering huge plunges in profits.

All five blame weak demand for steel and plunging sales prices for the results.

NKK Corp., Sumitomo Metal Industries and Kobe Steel incurred losses for the year that ended March 31 and will skip dividend payments for the year, according to their respective earnings reports released Monday.

Nippon Steel Corp. and Kawasaki Steel Corp. managed to churn up pretax profits but both suffered steep falls.

Nippon Steel, the nation’s leading steelmaker, logged pretax profits of 50.24 billion yen for the latest business year, down 51.7 percent, on sales of 1.919 trillion yen, down 13 percent.

The company reduced its annual dividend by 1 yen per share to 1.5 yen.

Kawasaki Steel reported pretax profits of 6.86 billion yen, down 82.3 percent from the previous year, incurring an after-tax loss of 62.27 billion yen against a profit the preceding year of 10.36 billion yen.

Sales dipped 13 percent to 836.24 billion yen.

Kawasaki Steel said it will skip the term-end dividend payment, dropping its annual dividend to 1.5 yen per share, compared with 3 yen the previous year.

NKK Corp. logged an after-tax loss of 50.34 billion yen, a turnaround from the previous year’s profit of 11.11 billion yen, on sales of 1.01 trillion yen, down 8.8 percent from a year earlier.

Sumitomo Metal registered a 20.79 billion yen after-tax loss for fiscal 1998, reversing the previous year’s profit of 2.44 billion yen. Its sales dipped 7.9 percent to 945.71 billion yen.

Kobe Steel reported an after-tax loss of 23.31 billion yen and sales of 938.46 billion yen, down 15.9 percent.

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