Special Correspondent

Announces 12.5 p.c. interim dividend

NEW DELHI: Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) has posted a profit after tax (PAT) of Rs. 685 crore on a turnover of Rs. 7,176 crore during the third quarter of the current fiscal. Although the public sector steel major has recorded consistent profits for the 12th consecutive quarter, the PAT for the third quarter is lower as compared to Rs. 1,514 crore achieved during the same three-month period of the previous year. At the board meeting here on Friday in which the company's unaudited financial results were taken on record, SAIL announced an interim dividend of 12.5 per cent resulting in an outgo of Rs. 516 crore for the second consecutive year.

According to a SAIL statement, the lower profitability during the third quarter this year was essentially on account of lower steel prices and higher cost of inputs, mainly coking coal. In view of the excess steel-making capacity in the international market with China becoming an exporter, there has been a pressure on prices. The rise in prices of coking coal alone imposed an additional burden of over Rs. 1,000 crore on SAIL during April-December 2005. The market is now stable and the prices of imported coking coal are expected to decline.

During October-December 2005, the company produced 3.6 million tonnes of hot metal, 3.4 million tonnes of crude steel and 3.03 million tonnes of salable steel, thus showing growth rates of eight per cent, six per cent and three per cent, respectively, over the same quarter of 2004-05. Production of salable steel at 8.59 million tonnes during the first nine months of this fiscal was eight per cent higher than in the April-December period of the previous year.