ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker, said on Thursday it was increasing its share buyback programme by another $1 billion after reporting its strongest quarter in more than a decade.
The uplift brings the capital returns announced by the company since September 2020 to $6 billion. There is currently $1.8 billion outstanding on its buyback programme.
Arcelor said it expects global steel demand to grow by between 12 per cent and 13 per cent this year excluding China, where real demand has weakened.
It now expects a slight contraction in Chinese steel demand in 2021, citing the country's real estate sector.
Shares were up 3.93 per cent to 28.43 euros as of 09:55am CET. Third-quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), the figure most watched by the market, showed about a six-fold increase from the same period last year at $6.06 billion.
That was slightly below the average forecast of $6.15 billion returned by a company poll.
"Our third-quarter results were supported by the continuing strong price environment, resulting in the highest net income and lowest net debt since 2008," Chief Executive Aditya Mittal said in a statement.
It was the strongest quarter since 2008 and up 19.9 per cent from the previous three-month period, the company added.
"This was on the back of strong steel price increases and steel spreads, offset by 9 per cent lower volumes due to a combination of automotive order cancellations, shipment delays and production curtailments given higher energy prices," ING analyst Stijn Demeester wrote in a note.
The group said net debt declined to $3.9 billion, the lowest since 2006 and down from $5 billion at the end of the previous quarter.