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AK Steel Holding Corporation (AKS - Analyst Report) announced that the members of United Auto Workers (UAW), Local 3642, have ratified a new three-year labor agreement. The agreement covers about 330 hourly production and maintenance employees at AK Steel’s Coshocton (OH) Works.

AK Steel stated that the new contract was ratified by vote well before the expiration date, and will be effective from Mar 31, 2013, till Mar 31, 2016.  AK Steel stated that the new contract is in the best interest of the company and the Local 3462 members.

In Jan 2013, AK Steel released its fourth-quarter 2012 results. The company slipped to a wider loss in the fourth quarter, hit by hefty pension, tax charges and weak pricing.

AK Steel posted a net loss of $230.4 million (or $1.89 a share) in the quarter compared with a loss of $193.9 million (or $1.76 a share) a year ago. It recorded a pension charge of $157.3 million and a non-cash income tax charge of $96.4 million in the reported quarter. Excluding these items, the company’s loss was 30 cents a share in the fourth quarter, which beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 35 cents.

Revenues for AK Steel fell 6% year over year to $1,423.1 million in the reported quarter on lower pricing, but beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1,416 million.

AK Steel is expected to benefit from the strength in the automotive market and higher shipment of carbon steel products to automakers. The company is also investing to internally procure about half of its iron ore and coal requirements.

AK Steel is making good progress with its coal mine plan and expects to begin mining activities in the first half of 2013. It is also making significant progress with its iron ore pellet project at Magnetation. Both these strategic investments are expected to improve the company’s cost structure and strengthen its position in the years ahead.

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

Other companies in the steel industry space worth considering are Gibraltar Industries Inc. (ROCK - Analyst Report), Shiloh Industries Inc. and Companhia Siderurgica Nacional (SID - Analyst Report). While Gibraltar and Shiloh hold a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) Companhia Siderurgica carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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