ArcelorMittal: Is the Worst Really Over?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Anytime you're caught asking "How much worse can things get," that's usually a sign that you've held on to a stock long past the optimal selling opportunity. It's never a good feeling.

ArcelorMittal ( MT) investors who housed their faith on a rebound in the steel industry are now learning this valuable lesson as the stock, which has been down by as much as 40% on the year, is down another 3% as of this writing.

While ArcelorMittal has enjoyed a solid reputation as the premier name in integrated steel, where it competes with others like U.S. Steel ( X) and POSCO ( PKX), ArcelorMittal has shown no immunity to a brutal steel market, which has suffered due to weak prices and slumping demand. And on Thursday, following another disappointing earnings report, during which the company cut its full-year forecast due to weak production, management has answered the questions; things can still get worse.

Given the dire state of the industry, not much was expected this quarter. In fact, in the months leading to this report, analysts had cut as much as 15 cents from their prior estimates. But it wasn't enough. On Thursday, the company reported a net loss of $780 million (585 million euros) -- reversing a year-ago profit of $1.02 billion.

Revenue, meanwhile, fell to $22.2 million from $22.5 million in the year-ago quarter. It is clear that the company's significant exposure to Europe and North America, from where roughly two-thirds of its revenue comes, is weighing down on growth. Europe, in particular, has been hit the hardest as the company posted a net loss of 150 million euros, of which restructuring costs accounted for 119 million euros.

It wasn't a stellar quarter for ArcelorMittal. And the company didn't pretend as if it was. But investors should take solace in the fact that it is indeed possible that this time the worst is indeed over. That revenue fell only slightly this quarter by 1.3% in encouraging, especially considering that the company posted a 13% year-over-year revenue decline in the May quarter. So there some signs that the deceleration of growth appears to be slowing.

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