(Adds executive comment, results detail)
RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Brazilian steelmaker Gerdau SA posted a 59 percent fall in third-quarter profit compared to last year, as weak steel demand in Brazil weighed on margins.
Gerdau, the largest long steel producer in the Americas, reported net income of 262 million reais ($105 million), which was slightly ahead of analyst forecasts, despite the big drop from last year.
A Reuters poll of five analysts forecast net income of 231 million reais.
Demand for steel in Brazil has weakened considerably since last year as the economy fell into recession in the first half and the country’s auto industry experiences its biggest drop in production for a decade.
Despite a tough market at home, Gerdau continues to outperform local rivals due to its strong presence in the United States. For example, Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais SA swung to a loss in the quarter.
“In a quarter in which we encountered less demand for steel in Brazil and other countries in Latin America, the main positive was our good performance in the United States,” Gerdau’s Chief Executive Andre Gerdau Johannpeter said in a statement.
Gerdau reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of 1.224 billion reais, down 13.4 percent on the same period in 2013.
The company said it was looking to cut costs and increase efficiency as it competes in a global market that continues to be oversupplied. Gerdau said it was reducing its capex for the year to 2.1 billion reais, below the average for the past three years. ($1 = 2.5 reais) (Reporting by Stephen Eisenhammer; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Louise Heavens)