AK Steel Holding Corporation (NYSE:AKS) reported today the first quarter results ending March, posting a net loss of $9.9 million, or $0.07 per diluted share against net loss of $11.8 million, or $0.11 per diluted share, for the first quarter of 2012. For the fourth quarter of 2012, the company reported a net loss of $230.4 million, or $1.89 per diluted share. The reported earnings beat the Thomson Reuters consensus estimate of $0.11 per diluted share.

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The net sales for the quarter for the steel company came in at $1,369.8 million on shipments of 1,289,800 tons, compared to 1,508.7 million on shipments of 1,325,900 tons for the year ago quarter. The sales were below the consensus estimate of $1.38 billion. The fall in sales was mainly due to lower shipments to the carbon spot market. However, the sales were somewhat compensated by increased shipments to the automotive market.

“AK Steel’s results reflect significant progress for the company during the first quarter,” said James L. Wainscott, Chairman, President and CEO.

As per the steel company, average selling price for the first quarter came in at $1,062 per ton, which was 7 percent less from the year ago quarter but was 5 percent more from the fourth quarter of 2012. The higher selling price over the fourth quarter was mainly due to a higher value-added product mix and higher carbon spot market prices. The lower selling prices over the first quarter of 2012 were due to lower spot market prices for carbon steel products, reduced raw material surcharges and lower selling prices for electrical steel products globally.

The adjusted EBITDA, excluding non-controlling interests for the quarter, came in at $66.8 million, or $52 per ton against $48.9 million, or $37 per ton, for the same quarter last year. The improvements were primarily due to higher value-added product mix and lower raw material costs for iron ore, coal, carbon scrap and coke. The improvements were somewhat offset by more than expected operating costs related to the company’s Middletown Works blast furnace and a lower LIFO credit.

Various analysts have recently weighed in on AKS shares. Jefferies has cut their price target for AK Steel Holding Corporation (NYSE:AKS) from $4.25 to $3.25 last week and gave a “hold” rating on the stock. Barclays Capital reaffirmed an “overweight” rating on Thursday, April 4. Analysts from Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) reiterated a “sell” rating on Friday, March 22. Currently, majority of the analysts have a “Hold” rating and an average price target of $5.30 for AK Steel Holding Corporation (NYSE:AKS).

AK Steel Holding Corporation (NYSE:AKS) announced that it will come up with detailed guidance for its second quarter results in June.