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Mechel OAO (MTL - Analyst Report) has announced that it has sold a part of its 73.3% stake (55% of share capital) in Vanino Sea Trade Port OAO, which it bought from the Russian government and foreign investors. Mechel now retains about 1.5% of the enterprise's common shares.

Mechel stated that the investors are not interested in transhipping their products through Port Vanino, which will enable it to use the port’s entire capacity in the company’s interests. Port Vanino was already utilized by Mechel to ship its cargo. The first vessel carrying 30,000 tons of Yakutugol Holding Company OAO's coal products has left the port and another vessel, which will carry 40,000 tons of coal, is set to start its journey at the port.

Last week, Mechel acquired a controlling stake in Vanino Sea Trade Port OAO for about RUB15.5 billion ($512.5 million). The takeover was in sync with the company’s efforts to expand its export capacities in Asia Pacific.

Port Vanino is one of Russia’s largest ports and is suitably located for Mechel to serve the Asia Pacific region. The port is also open for navigation throughout the year and is the largest transport hub in the Kahabarovsk Region.

According to Mechel, Port Vanino’s coal transhipment capacity can be increased to 7 million tons in 2013 without incurring any significant costs. This also saves Mechel from building its own storage terminal at Vanino for the next 3-5 years. By utilizing the capacities of the port, Mechel can increase its customer base.

Mechel currently retains a short-term Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Other companies in the steel industry with favorable Zacks Ranks are Gibraltar Industries Inc. (ROCK - Analyst Report), POSCO (PKX - Analyst Report) and ArcelorMittal South Africa (AMSIY). While both Gibraltar and POSCO hold a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), ArcelorMittal South Africa holds a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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