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Arcelor Mittal 2006 Profit Slightly Below Consensus

Arcelor Mittal, the world's largest steelmaker, reported a 2006 core profit of $15.3 billion on Wednesday, slightly below market expectations but in line with its own forecast.

Analysts polled by Reuters expected EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) on average at $15.4 billion.

The steel giant previously told investors it saw core earnings coming in between $15.2 billion and 15.4 billion.

Arcelor Mittal also gave financial guidance for the first quarter of 2007, projecting core earnings to reach between $4.0 and $4.2 billion, in line with the last quarter of 2006.

Sales and earnings per share came in at $88.6 billion and $5.76 respectively against the $88.2 billion and $5.36 averages of the Reuters poll of seven contributors.

It is the first time the newly formed group presents annual results after Mittal Steel's successful takeover of Luxembourg-based Arcelor last year.

The group's shares listed in Paris have gained some 19 percent since the start of the year, compared with a more modest 6 percent increase of the Dow Jones Stoxx European basic resources index.

Arcelor Mittal, which said it planned to become a single legal entity in July, is some three times the size of its nearest rival with annual production exceeding 100 million tonnes.

Analysts say Arcelor Mittal trades at a discount to steelmaking peers despite being the world number one. Risks include global oversupply.