Bethlehem adds 3%-5% to price of sheet steel Raise keeps pace with LTV, U.S. Steel

January 26, 1993|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Staff Writer

Following the lead of other major steel companies, Bethlehem Steel Corp. announced yesterday that it would raise the prices of its steel sheet products in a bid to buoy the company to profitability.

"We believe we should receive fair value for our products," said David P. Post, a Bethlehem senior vice president. "Hot- and cold-rolled sheet prices today are at the same level as they were in 1980."

The increase would boost the price of hot- and cold-rolled sheet steel by $20 a ton, effective April 4. This amounts to a 3 percent to 5 percent increase, depending of the type of product.

The price increase is identical to those announced last week by LTV Corp. of Dallas and USX-U.S. Steel Group of Pittsburgh.

The increase also applies to coated steel products, but not to tin-plated steel or plate, according to Bethlehem spokesman Henry Von Sprecklesen.

The actions by the steel companies are the second recent increases for sheet products. On Jan. 3, steelmakers put into effect increases of between 3 percent and 5 percent for sheet products. However, an increase for coated products did not hold, Mr. Von Sprecklesen said.

Flat rolled steel accounts for most of the production at Bethlehem's Sparrows Point mill in Baltimore County and more than half of Bethlehem's total annual production of more than 8 million tons.

If the price increase holds, as many analysts expect, it could have a significant effect on the company's fortunes. A 1 percent increase in the price of all steel products would boost the company's earnings by $40 million, Mr. Von Sprecklesen said. The company has been unprofitable for the past three years.

Analysts are optimistic that the prices will hold because of the upswing in steel demand as the economy improves and a preliminary decision by the Commerce Department in November that restricts steel imports. Another decision regarding imports that is favorable to the steelmakers is expected tomorrow.

Last week's announcements of price increases pushed up steel company stocks Friday, with Bethlehem rising by $1.75 a share, to close at $19.25, and USX increasing to $37.75 a share, up $2.75.

Yesterday's announcement, however, had little effect on Bethlehem's stock, which declined 25 cents, to close at $19 a share. USX remained unchanged, at $37.75.

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