German heavy industry giant ThyssenKrupp is worried its full-year targets could be jeopardised if economic conditions, especially in the steel sector, don't improve, its chief warned in a newspaper interview Thursday.
Chronic overcapacity, increased steel imports from China and changing political conditions have altered the steel sector "dramatically," ThyssenKrupp chief executive Heinrich Hiesinger told Handelsblatt business daily.
"Our materials businesses cannot avoid being affected by this. Everything we undertake in terms of cost-cutting efforts is very quickly wiped out," Hiesinger said.
Steel is historically ThyssenKrupp's core business, but it is also active in elevators, industrial plant technology, submarines and car parts.
ThyssenKrupp is currently undertaking a massive overhaul of its activities following a series of bad investments in recent years which have since weighed on profits.
Hiesinger said the group is still hoping to achieve its target for operating profit of 1.6-1.9 billion euros ($1.7-2.0 billion) in the year to September.
But this would only be on condition that "our materials businesses recover noticeably in the second half of the year," he cautioned.
The newspaper quoted an unnamed investor as saying that if ThyssenKrupp failed to meet its earnings targets, "discussion about a possible sell-off of different divisions will boil up again."
ThyssenKrupp shares were among the biggest losers on the Frankfurt stock exchange on Thursday.
The group is scheduled to hold its annual shareholder meeting on Friday.