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German steel group Thyssenkrupp swung to a net profit in the first quarter of the financial year, aided by higher steel prices.

The group posted net income to shareholders of €8m, versus a €23m loss a year before. Sales rose from €9.5bn to €10.1bn.

Adjusted EBIT climbed 40 per cent to €329m, beating analysts’ forecasts of €318m. Thyssenkrupp called this its best start to a financial year since it launched a restructuring programme in 2011, underscoring efforts to move away from being a steel producer to focus on the higher-margin capital goods business.

“That shows our strategy is right. We’re increasing our share of capital goods and services businesses,” said chief executive Heinrich Hiesinger. “That will enable us to generate more stable earnings and achieve profitable growth in the future.”

The Essen-based company’s elevator unit earnings rose 6 per cent to €215m and its components technology unit recorded a 6 per cent increase to €75m.

Its Steel Americas unit was the bigger mover, however, as earnings climbed to €37m from a €74m loss a year earlier. Steel Europe, meanwhile, reported adjusted EBIT of €28m, down from €51m.

Earnings at the group’s industrial solutions business – engineering, construction, and service of industrial plants – more than halved to €42m. In November the head of this unit stepped down, apologising after accepting an inappropriate gift from a business partner overseas.

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