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Ever since Kumba Iron Ore significantly increased its prices to ArcelorMittal SA (Amsa), from cost plus 3% a few years ago, it has been a struggle for the steel producer to make profits. It has fallen off the radar of most research analysts. However, after years of posting truly "drek" results, CEO Kobus Verster could take a little satisfaction in announcing a reasonable turnaround in fortunes, in fact into profit, for the interim period to June 2018. Revenue was up strongly thanks to substantial increases in production volumes, sales and exports, supported by strong prices. Combined with cost containment, there was a much welcome profit in both ebitda (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) level and margin. Verster is "quite chuffed" with this result. Although the medium-term global steel market has positive fundamentals, supply discipline and a strong dollar price, the strengthening rand can get in the way — as it did in these latest results. The internatio...

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