In 2023, Acerinox will maintain its commitment to the Los Barrios factory with the largest investment, in a process of “regionalization of markets”, which includes guaranteeing customer orders in the face of unforeseen factors – such as war and failures in supply chains Is. , face the attraction of new investors, explore buyout operations of other companies giving added value and gain job stability at the Campo Gibraltarian plant with a new collective agreement.
Acerinox’s board of directors presented its 2022 results at the company’s shareholders’ meeting this Monday, in which it achieved a net profit of 556 million euros and a turnover of 8,688 million, which serves as a lever for 2023, Whose challenges were informed. First up in the morning are press by the company’s CEO Bernardo Velazquez and its president, Carlos Ortega.
Acerinox plans, given what happened over the past year, to bring production closer to demand, which translates into a strengthening of production in the US, where the company is the main producer of stainless steel with its North American Stainless. (NAS) plants are concentrated in Kentucky, as well as in Europe, originally in the Gulf of Algeciras and through VDM in Germany.
For Velázquez, we are witnessing a “change in the economic model of production, not deglobalized, but one of regionalization”. This is the result of “the good sense of the companies’ purchasing managers”, who want to protect their companies from “supply chain disruptions”, and also of safeguards and anti-dumping measures against China and other countries.
As a result, the Los Barrios plant – “one of the best in the world”, in Velázquez’s words – will gain prominence this year and the next, 2022, after being in “an extraordinary position with an additional cost of around 200 million euros” “of the result. In terms of, fundamentally, the cost of electricity.
The CEO announced further investment in the company’s parent factory and expressed hope that stability in the workplace would be secured through a new collective agreement. The keys to this, in Velázquez’s opinion, include not linking wage increases to the CPI and achieving greater “flexibility and mobility” of workers within the plant, in such a way that their work is not limited to a single task, but is rather tailored to the needs. Accordingly many of them can develop.
Regarding the perennial problem of electricity prices faced by the industry, Velázquez indicated that Acerinox competes at a disadvantage with producers from other European countries such as France or Finland, with a notorious commitment to nuclear sources, although he expressed hope expressed that the production of green hydrogen by neighboring Cepsa, in San Roque and only a few kilometers away, could provide a solution in the medium term. Not in vain, the latter forecasts to start producing hydrogen from renewable sources from 2027.
“Surprindidos” by VDM
Ortega emphasized the great results achieved by VDM in Germany, specializing in the production of special alloy steel, which has led it to “surpass all expectations” and the “successful diversification” of its production with its purchase by the company inspired to do. In 2020.
Acerinox executives acknowledged that they are looking for purchase opportunities in the United States and Europe, their two main markets. Ortega dismissed both the group’s jump to listing in the United States and a possible corporate takeover (listing) on Acerinox by a company in the region in the country. “I think it’s hard for anyone out there to buy us, they don’t have enough size to buy the leader,” he said.
Carlos Ortega did not rule out any type of business for purchases, be it stainless steel or value-added products, as happened with the aforementioned acquisition of VDM Metals. “Yes, we want something like VDM, but it’s not like that. With this we entered that business through the front door and we have to find parts that fit well. It’s not that easy, but we Looking,” Bernardo Velazquez added in this regard.
A “Candy Expert” for Investors
The president of Acerinox speculates that the group is “a specialist in sweets” and a “bargain” for anyone because of its low price. “Compared to our peers, we have a very relevant country exposure, so our growth and profitability are higher than other countries like the United States, so it is surprising that the market does not reflect this as . We think we are undervalued, we should be open to anything that creates value for our shareholders,” said Velazquez, who identified the United States as a fundamental market because of its strength, stable demand and financial soundness. pointed out in
With regard to energy prices, Velázquez indicated that the energy crisis experienced last year due to the effects of the war in Ukraine resulted in additional costs of about 136 million euros compared to 2021, in which it was more than 80 million euros on average. were recorded. The company is committed to long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) and is confident that it will be able to cover more than a third of its energy consumption by the middle of this year.
At the shareholders’ meeting, Esrinox will propose the payment of a supplementary dividend of EUR 0.30 gross per share payable on 17 July. Acerinox will distribute EUR 150 million in dividends this year.