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AK Steel Holding Corporation (AKS - Analyst Report) announced that it has reached a new labor agreement with the members of the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1865 union. The agreement will hold good for 18 months and will cover more than 800 hourly production and maintenance steel operations employees at the company's Ashland, Ky works.

The current agreement will expire on Sep 1. The new one will be effective from Sep 1, 2013, and will expire on Mar 1, 2015. The agreement is in the best interests of both AK Steel and Local 1865 members.

United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1865 union has members from the state area of Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio. The local union represents roughly 850 members employed by AK Steel. The union also represents members of Members Choice Credit Union, ESM Caster Technology Division and Vesuvius.

AK Steel posted a narrower loss in second-quarter 2013 on Jul 23. The company recorded a net loss of $40.4 million or 30 cents a share in the quarter, down roughly 94% from a loss of $724.2 million or $6.55 a share a year-ago. The year-ago quarter’s results were dragged down by income tax charge of $735.6 million or $6.65 per share.

During the reported quarter, AK Steel took a charge of $21.6 million related to the planned maintenance outage at its Middletown Works blast furnace in Ohio. Moreover, it incurred $6.2 million associated with unplanned blast furnace outage in the quarter. AK Steel also recorded an inventory-related credit of $12.4 million in the reported quarter.  

Barring one-time items (tax charges related to a valuation allowance for deferred tax assets), AK Steel’s loss for the quarter was 15 cents per share, lower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 35 cents.
Revenues fell 8.7% year over year to $1,404.5 million in the reported quarter due to lower shipments to carbon spot and electrical steel markets. It missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1,414 million.

While AK Steel is poised to gain from healthy automotive demand, we remain cautious about the weak steel pricing environment and a challenging operating backdrop in overseas markets.

AK Steel currently retains a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Other companies in the steel industry with favorable Zacks Rank are Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation (NSSMY), Kobe Steel Ltd. (KBSTY) and Ternium S.A. (TX - Snapshot Report). While Nippon Steel retains a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Kobe Steel and Ternium carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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