Steel company sells for less than half what it was worth when Trump took office

Posted December 3, 2019 9:03 a.m. EST

— Despite President Donald Trump's promise to revive the domestic steel industry through tariffs, AK Steel has decided its time to sell.

The Ohio steelmaker agreed to be purchased by mining company Cleveland-Cliffs in a roughly $1 billion stock deal. Although it's a premium from AK Steel's recent valuation, that's less than half the stock's value from early 2018 after President Trump first announced he would place tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in an effort to help those industries. It's roughly a third of the price of the stock the day he took office.

The deal came the day after Trump threatened a new round of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Brazil and Argentina.

The Trump administration's original round of steel tariffs briefly led to a jump in domestic prices and increased American steel production. But prices have retreated since then as the increased production and decrease in demand put downward pressure on prices. Steel industry profits and stock prices have fallen along with the decline in prices. AK Steel recently reported a 96% drop in net income in the third quarter. In January it announced it would close a mill in Ashland, Kentucky, by the end of this year, cutting 230 jobs.

"We believe this transaction is a compelling opportunity for AK Steel shareholders," said AK Steel CEO Roger Newport, whose retirement was announced as part of the deal.

Stockholders of AK Steel will get 0.4 shares of Cleveland-Cliff for each of their shares, worth about $3.36 at Monday's closing price. But Cleveland-Cliffs' stock tumbled 12% in premarket trading on the news of the deal.

Our commenting policy has changed. If you would like to comment, please share on social media using the icons below and comment there.