Bluescope Steel

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Annual Report 2004/05

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Kirby Adams, Managing Director and CEO

Creating our Future - Managing Director and CEO's Report

This past financial year has been an extraordinary one for BlueScope Steel - a year in which we again rewarded our shareholders as we grew. Indeed, the year has been defined by growth. Revenue was up 38%, while NPAT was up 72% to $1.007 billion.

The current 2005/06 financial year will be an exciting period for your Company - the beginning of the phase in which we deliver on our mid and downstream growth initiatives. We have commenced operations at our second metallic coating facility in Thailand, and a number of major projects will follow, including our metallic coating and painting facility in Vietnam, which is due for start-up early in the 2006 calendar year. Supporting our growth is strong underlying cashflow, and a robust balance sheet.



We also care for 17,500 employees and contractors in 84 manufacturing sites across 17 countries. BlueScope Steel continues to run a major safety program and we continue our drive for Zero Harm. Key indicators are very encouraging. Our lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) was a record low of less than one lost time injury per million hours worked during the year. Our medical treatment injury frequency rate (MTIFR) was 9.2 medically treated injuries per million hours worked including our Butler operations, and 4.4 excluding Butler. Our Asian businesses were most impressive in this area, achieving 16 million working hours without any lost time through injury.

However, our safety achievements were marred by a tragic death. In the days following this fiscal year, an employee at our New Zealand Steel business was fatally injured at work. I have sent our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues, and our recent Stop for Safety again emphasised the importance of safety and equipment isolation. Our goal of Zero Harm is the responsibility of us all. Every day, everywhere, without exception.


On behalf of our 17,500 employees, we have an outstanding set of results to report to our owners. Our total revenue was a record $7.98 billion, up $2.2 billion, or 38%, on the previous year. Of this amount, $1.2 billion was contributed by our recently acquired Butler businesses. Demand for our excellent BlueScope Steel products has been strong in all markets.

Despatches were up 5% on the previous year, and EBIT was up $570 million, to a record $1.388 billion.

NPAT was a record $1.007 billion, while earnings per share was $1.37, enhanced by our share buyback programs. Return on invested capital was a robust 25.4%, with return on equity 30%, after tax. Net operating cashflows were up 37% to $1.2 billion. We used this cash in a balanced way, committing $660 million dollars to capital expenditure and investments, with $670 million returned to our shareholders.

One of our objectives has been to align the interests of our employees with the interests of you, our owners. Share ownership among employees is now approaching 100%. We believe a genuine sense of ownership among our employees is contributing to our Company's strong performance.


Our renewal strategy continues, with significant growth initiatives ahead and underway. Many are now familiar with our program of faster growth for our mid and downstream businesses. Our aim is to re-balance our portfolio of businesses, thereby reducing cyclical risk. We are on schedule in our efforts to change the profile of your Company.

In the current year, we will see the first benefits of a re-balanced portfolio, as we deliver on this strategy. We are now midway through our $2 billion growth program, which involves over 20 major projects in eight countries.

We have commissioned our new $80 million metallic coating facility in Thailand. Our $160 million metallic coating and painting facility in Vietnam will start up early in the 2006 calendar year, with our $280 million China metallic coating and painting facility commencing operations in the middle of the 2006 calendar year.

During the year, we announced a $100 million investment program for India - a country that is entering a period of vigorous economic growth. Our downstream earnings will be boosted by a number of new facilities around the world, including our Western Sydney COLORBOND® facility, new rollforming and pre-engineered building (PEB) facilities in China, our new Butler Manufacturing plant in Jackson, Tennessee, and the Western Australia Service Centre. We are also expanding our Vistawall extrusion plant in Tennessee.


The resultant portfolio will comprise a unique multi-national franchise, with greater balance and diversification in terms of geography, products and markets. BlueScope Steel is uniquely positioned as the only pan-Asian provider of steel building solutions.

A crucial part of this strategy is business excellence. Consequently, we continue our drive for excellence in areas such as cost reduction and capital efficient capacity increases. We continuously work on improving our offers to customers, improving technical support, delivery reliability and lead times, and managing volatility. New products are another focus in our drive for excellence, with great energy directed into research and development, product development and extensions, along with new global alliances and acquisitions.


Last year, we achieved many of our demanding goals with strong performance across our geographic footprint. We have now attained market leadership in a number of segments around the world, including PEBs in North America and China, downstream steel solutions in Asia and Australia, and an unmatched network of metallic coating, painting and rollforming facilities.

Our Asian businesses achieved stable profit performance, despite being faced with higher costs. This segment's performance was affected by an increase of $19 million in pre-operating costs related to projects underway in China, India, Thailand and Vietnam. Higher feedstock costs were offset by increased prices, and the segment exceeded $1 billion in revenue for the first time. Our employees in Asia are continually pushing for growth in this energised region, which we consider a core growth corridor.

In North America, we are working hard to build and transform our downstream businesses. Revenue for this business unit exceeded $1 billion, with the first half year showing a reasonable turnaround, while the second half was disappointing. However, even as this transformation is completed, the benefits of Butler and Vistawall capabilities are being felt across the company, particularly in Asia, where PEB markets are growing.


From left: Executive Leadership Team members Ian Cummin and Brian Kruger with
Kirby Adams.

The stand out performance during the past year was from our three upstream steelmaking businesses. These operations responded with vigour to the high product margins experienced in the steelmaking industry, and generated revenue of almost $4 billion. Super-profitability was achieved by Port Kembla Steelworks, New Zealand Steel and the 50% owned North Star BlueScope Steel in Ohio, USA. Total EBIT for this group was a record $1.521 billion, up 143% on last year. Production and safety records were set by all these businesses, while our North Star BlueScope Steel joint venture also cleared its debts and paid its first dividend to BlueScope Steel. Customers once again voted this business 'the number one flat rolled steel supplier in North America', in the prestigious Jacobson survey. I congratulate all those involved in our very successful steelmaking operations in Australia, New Zealand and North America.

Our downstream coated, painted, packaging, building products and steel solutions businesses in Australia dealt with a number of challenges during the year, including much higher input costs, strike actions and restructures. The second half saw a recovery, due to price increases, while our decision to exit the export packaging products business resulted in $25 million of restructuring costs. Demand for our colourful products remains strong, particularly in non-residential markets in Australia.


The 2004/05 financial year has been an exceptional one - the best in our Company's 87 year history. In the coming year, we expect strong demand for our products to continue. However, BlueScope Steel will again be affected by external cost pressures such as raw materials and freight. As a result of the mismatch between raw material prices and steel prices, we are absorbing an increase of approximately $600 million, or 90%, in raw material costs, and this cannot be entirely recovered this year. But by achieving increases in prices and production volumes, commissioning many new projects, and improving the performance of our acquisitions, we are working to make 2005/06 at least our second-best year ever.

Recent forecasts of GDP growth rates for the 2006 financial year indicate continuing good levels of growth in Australia, New Zealand, the USA, China and South East Asia. China's GDP is expected to grow at greater than 5%, with global GDP growth exceeding 3%. These forecasts confirm the economic premise on which our growth strategy is based, and suggest our regional economy will continue to be the fastest growing steel products market in the world.

In October 2004, I addressed the Board of the International Iron and Steel Institute on ways in which our global steel industry could improve itself. As Institute Chairman, I called for greater industry consolidation, and for a more responsible approach to capacity expansion. It is heartening to see evidence of these trends at play in the global steel industry. For example, China, which now has steel companies that are members of the IISI, has announced measures in both these areas. As a supplier to China's building and construction markets, we welcome moves that contribute to more stable growth.

BlueScope Steel achieved more last year than most would have anticipated. So I thank our shareholders for investing in BlueScope Steel, our customers for their continuing confidence and business, and our communities for hosting our operations and continuing to use our beautiful and colourful steel products and solutions.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the efforts of our employees. BlueScope Steel's achievements reflect the high calibre of our people. With few exceptions, they are talented, dedicated, and innovative. They are team players and people of integrity. And importantly, they care for their colleagues, our customers, their communities, and our shareholders. I thank them all for these extraordinary results.

Kirby Adams,
Managing Director and CEO