SALZGITTER (dpa-AFX) - The steel manufacturer Salzgitter has lowered its forecast for the current year due to the persistently weak economic environment. Customers are postponing their orders, the company announced in Salzgitter on Tuesday. The extent of the reduction came as a surprise to investors and analysts, and the share price plummeted.

By early afternoon, Salzgitter shares had fallen by a good eleven percent to 21.58 euros, bringing up the rear in the second-line index SDax. The downward trend that has been in place for a good year has thus accelerated again; the most recent attempt at stabilization has been lost for the time being.

Konzen, which competes with thyssenkrupp's steel division, expects earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of EUR 550 million to EUR 625 million for 2024, according to a statement on Tuesday. Pre-tax earnings are likely to be between 100 and 175 million euros. This is significantly less than previously forecast.

Previously, Salzgitter had forecast an operating profit of 700 to 750 million euros and a pre-tax profit of 250 to 300 million euros. The company expects sales of around 10.5 billion euros, which is at the lower end of the previously announced range of 10.5 to 11 billion euros.

In an initial reaction, analyst Christian Obst from Baader Bank wrote of a massive profit warning - and this only seven weeks after the SDax company had presented its original annual outlook. The expert now gives shareholders little hope of a rapid and significant price recovery. The shares are likely to underperform for the time being, possibly until the half-year figures are published at the beginning of August. Nevertheless, the economic outlook has recently improved somewhat in some cases - contrary to Salzgitter's argument. Various economic indicators appear to have reached their lows.

With regard to the new forecasts, Salzgitter also referred to an uncertain economic environment. "Looking ahead to the rest of the year, it is becoming apparent that the German economy will not be able to match the upturn in other industrialized countries," it said. "Signs of recovery are more hesitant and weaker than originally anticipated." At the same time, uncertainty regarding economic development in the second half of the year is increasing. As a result, planned incoming orders have been postponed.

As a result, Salzgitter's sales and earnings declined in the first quarter. According to preliminary data, external sales fell from 3 billion to 2.7 billion euros. The operating profit slumped from 290 million to 126 million euros and the pre-tax result fell from 184 million to 17 million euros. Salzgitter said that the figures were in line with market expectations. Details are to be published on May 13 /mis/nas/zb/he