FRANKFURT -- Germany's ThyssenKrupp said on Thursday a pick-up in demand for steel had helped it more than double its quarterly earnings and said it hoped to lift profits further over the course of the year.
The world's biggest stainless steel producer said its pre-tax profit in the three months to March 31 rose to 250 million euros ($288 million) from 96 million a year ago, beating the 209-million euro average forecast in a Reuters poll.
Shares in Thyssen, which has hiked its steel prices four times in the past 12 months as the market recovers from near historic lows early last year, were up 1.4 percent in morning Frankfurt trade, outperforming a 0.75 percent rise on the DJ Stoxx basic resources sector.
The steelmaker, which also supplies parts for DaimlerChrysler and BMW and builds elevators, said it aimed at least to match first-half pre-tax profit of 391 million euros in its fiscal second half, assuming no further deterioration in the health of the economy.
"It's a cautious forecast. They worry that steel prices are close to peak and will probably experience a downturn in the coming months," said Societe Generale analyst Fabrice Theveneau, who rates the stock "sell."
European steel prices have been supported by strong Chinese demand, output discipline on the part of producers and by EU import restrictions set up last year to protect the market.