(new: share prices, analysts, Nucera, statements from the conference call)

ESSEN (dpa-AFX) - The weak economy continues to put pressure on business at industrial group Thyssenkrupp. In the second quarter (as of the end of March), the company, which is undergoing far-reaching restructuring, was again in the red. Thyssenkrupp blames this primarily on value adjustments in the fixed assets of the materials trading division and negative effects from the market valuation of CO2 forward transactions in the steel division.

When presenting its figures on Wednesday, the company again lowered its annual forecasts for sales and net income. The bottom line for the 2023/24 financial year is now likely to be a loss again. However, thyssenkrupp is sticking to the expected increase in its operating business. Overall, the company spoke of a "solid business performance" in a "challenging environment".

The electrolysis specialist Thyssenkrupp Nucera, which is also listed on the stock exchange and in which the Essen-based company holds a majority stake, also sent mixed signals: projects in the promising hydrogen business have been postponed and the company has lowered its forecasts for the sector.

Thyssenkrupp shares, which are listed on the MDax, lost more than eight percent at one point, but were able to limit the losses somewhat over the course of the day. At midday, it was still down three percent.

Analyst Christian Obst from Baader Bank assessed the quarterly report as "a mixed bag with a negative touch" due to the lowered sales target. On the other hand, the Group delivered an operating result (EBIT) above expectations in the second quarter and confirmed the targets for EBIT and free cash flow. According to the expert Moses Ola from the US bank JPMorgan, the sales target harbors the risk that the EBIT estimates will nevertheless be reduced on the market.

Nucera shares lost 13.5 percent at the top of the SDax. Both shares are still struggling to recover from the recent weakness, as they have been among the biggest losers in their MDax and SDax indices so far this year. While Thyssenkrupp shares have lost a quarter, those of Nucera 2024 are down by a third.

According to Thyssenkrupp CEO Miguel López, the Group developed "according to plan" in the second quarter - "in a market environment that continues to deteriorate". He also spoke of "important progress" in the strategic realignment of the Group. He referred to the plans to make the marine business and the steel division independent. The marine business is currently being audited by the investment company Carlyle with the aim of a possible partial sale. "At the same time, we are exploring further possibilities for independence on the capital market," said López in a conference call. At the same time, as already announced, talks are underway with the German government regarding the involvement of the state.

He defended the far-reaching restructuring plans for the steel division. "Despite a long tradition and a high level of technical expertise, the future of our steel industry is massively at risk today," he said. Demand is too low, the costs, particularly for energy, are too high and overcapacity is putting pressure on prices. In addition, there are cheap imports from Asia. "That's why something has to change." This is why important steps have been taken in recent weeks to make the steel sector fit for the future. "We want a steel that earns money sustainably - so much money that we can manage the transformation to green steel," said López.

Thyssenkrupp is planning a significant reduction in steel production capacity in Duisburg, which will be accompanied by job cuts. Details are still open and are currently being worked out. In addition, the EPCG holding company of Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky is to take over 20 percent of the steel division, and later 50 percent. The planned strategic partnership is to focus primarily on energy supplies.

On balance, thyssenkrupp reported a loss of 78 million euros for the quarter, which was less than a year earlier, when a loss of 223 million was recorded. Adjusted for special effects, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) fell to 184 million after 205 million euros in the same quarter of the previous year. The main reason for the reduction was the absence of positive one-off effects from the automotive supply division, it was reported. Without these effects, adjusted EBIT would have recorded an increase. Increases in earnings in the steel and marine business contributed to this. Measures under the Apex efficiency program also had a positive effect.

In comparison to the same quarter of the previous year, declines in prices and demand in materials trading and in the steel business caused sales to fall from 10.1 to 9.1 billion euros and order intake from 10.2 to 8.6 billion euros.

Meanwhile, electrolysis specialist Nucera was also in the red. The ramp-up of the hydrogen business had a negative impact. However, the company was able to significantly increase its turnover. However, many potential customers were increasingly reluctant to make final investment decisions, it said. Projects in the hydrogen business were delayed, which is why Nucera scaled back its growth expectations in this area. Thyssenkrupp still holds half of the shares in Nucera after the Borsen transaction, while around a quarter is held by its Italian partner Industrie De Nora.

Thyssenkrupp once again lowered its outlook for sales and annual earnings for the full year 2023/24. Due to declining volumes and lower prices in the steel and materials trading business, sales are now expected to be below the previous year's level. The Group had previously expected a figure at the previous year's level.

On balance, thyssenkrupp now expects a loss in the low three-digit million euro range. The company had previously assumed a break-even figure. In 2022/23, the loss had amounted to just under two billion euros. In terms of adjusted EBIT, the Group continues to expect an increase to a figure in the high three-digit million euro range after 703 million euros in the previous year./nas/tob/niw/jha/