This allowed it to return to a positive operating profit of USD 1.2 billion, compared with a loss of $0.3 billion in the previous quarter. Unfortunately, the upturn may not last in the second quarter: the euro is rising and the price of steel is back on its 10-year support.

Impacted by the increase in working capital requirements, cash generation from operations was zero during the quarter. Net debt rose from $2.2 billion to $5.2 billion, following the acquisition of CSP in Brazil and the continuation of the share buyback program.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, ArcelorMittal is projecting volume growth of 5% for the year, and revenue growth of between 2% and 3%. These expectations are remarkably different from the general consensus, which is more reserved and expects a recession.

This is evidenced by a seemingly aberrant market capitalization of x2.7 last year's net income. In reality, the market is expecting a return to the average steel price after the peak of the pandemic, caused in particular by the neutralization of Asian competition.

Beyond these distortions, it is difficult to estimate a "normalized" earning capacity for ArcelorMittal, which has been undergoing more or less permanent restructuring for the past ten years. But if we neutralize the pandemic effect in 2021 and 2022, the average cash profit - or "free cash flow" - reaches EUR 1 per share per year between 2012 and 2020, while consolidated sales decrease over the period.

Beware of optical effects: at a share price of EUR25, the valuation of the share therefore represents a very different multiple from the P/E shown.