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May 5, 2021

'Business is great' amid commodity boom: Stelco CEO

Stelco says it could generate adjusted EBITDA of $2 billion amid steel boom

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Stelco Holdings Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer Alan Kestenbaum said business is booming at the Canadian steelmaker after posting a blowout quarter that saw his company fully benefit from a recent rally in commodity prices.

The company said its first quarter revenue jumped 49 per cent to $665 million from a year earlier while adjusted earnings with interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) was $185 million, up 756 per cent.

The strong results were propelled by what Kestenbaum said in a statement was a “rising tide" in steel and hot metal prices. Commodity prices have been trending higher over the last few months as the global economy continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re in a very fortunate position,” Kestenbaum said in a broadcast interview. “We made a lot of investments before 2021. Who know 2021 would start out the way it has been?”

He added any steel price gains accrued since the quarter ended will flow straight to the company’s bottom line.

“The Q1 results, which are fantastic, which are 10 times over a year ago and three times the Q4 results, are at a price which is actually half of what steel prices are today. That entire half flows to our bottom line because the costs don’t go up from where they are,” he said.

Kestenbaum said the rally in steel prices, unlike with other commodities, is being driven purely by strong demand seen in auto and infrastrucutre sectors.

“As you know it’s not a speculative commodity like others: It's real fundamentals,” he said. “It’s been driven by lean inventories, enormous demand in the auto sector, enormous demand in the infrastructure sector and energy is coming back."

Kestenbaum said he expects adjusted EBITDA in the forthcoming quarter to rise as much as three times on its first-quarter results, while the third-quarter could be “probably another double from there.”

He said that while the company is garnering a lot of attention, it stills remains a “hidden gem” for investors outside Canada.