By Christoph Steitz and Edward Taylor
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Thyssenkrupp shares fell 8 percent on Friday after the German conglomerate cut its profit forecast for the second time this year, blaming provisions from a steel cartel probe and quality issues at its automotive unit.
The profit warning late on Thursday is the second under the watch of Guido Kerkhoff, installed as the group's permanent chief executive in July after a tumultuous summer that included the resignation of the group's chairman and former CEO following mounting shareholder pressure.
It is also expected to put further pressure on Kerkhoff, who is struggling to get markets excited about a landmark move to split the steel-to-submarines conglomerate via a spin off of its elevator, car parts and plant engineering units, as no part of the business is without issues.
"Negative newsflow does not end. Lagging elevator performance raises even more questions about restructuring," said one Frankfurt trader, noting problems across the group.
Shares traded 8.1 percent lower at 0855 GMT, falling to their lowest level since 2016.
Thyssenkrupp's current enterprise value of around 15 billion euros ($17 billion) is roughly the same as its elevator business if viewed on a standalone basis, analysts say, with the risk of a bidder coming in to break up the business.
The company, whose roots go back more than 200 years, on Thursday said it had decided to set aside risk provisions for a probe by the country's cartel office into alleged agreements relating to heavy plate and flat carbon steel products.
"We have taken this matter very seriously from the very beginning and, with the help of an external law firm, conducted our own internal investigation," board member Donatus Kaufmann said in a letter to employees that was obtained by Reuters.
"In the meantime, we have obtained information in the investigation which has led us to accrue a provision in the group financial statements."
As a result, net income in the financial year 2017/18 is expected to drop to 100 million euros ($114 million), down 63 percent from the 271 million last year. The group had previously expected a significant rise in net profit.
Kaufmann said the provisions would have no impact on a planned 50-50 European joint venture with Tata Steel and that the cartel investigation relates to legacy cases.
"All persons involved are no longer working in their areas of responsibility or have left the company," the company said.
In addition, the group set aside provisions for risks arising from unspecified quality issues at its automotive business, pointed to shipping restrictions at its steel unit and warned of lower-than-expected earnings at its elevator unit.
Thyssenkrupp said costs had risen in the Components Technology division, which serves mainly automotive clients, requiring a hike in provisions. Thyssenkrupp declined to provide details about the magnitude of provisions.
This partly challenges the logic behind Thyssenkrupp's plans to spin-off elevators and car parts into one division, separating them from other assets within the group.
The group now expects adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to fall to 1.6 billion euros, down from a previous target of 1.8 billion. Thyssenkrupp will present full-year results on Nov. 21.
($1 = 0.8771 euros)
(Additional reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff in Duesseldorf; Editing by Kirsten Donovan/Keith Weir)
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)