Top global steelmaker ArcelorMittal reported on Wednesday a sharp rally of net profit to $1.07 billion (744 million euros) in the first quarter after a setback at the end of last year, boosted by exceptional items. The company, by far the biggest steelmaker by volume, said it expected profitability to improve further in the second quarter. The group reported a loss for the last quarter of last year because of costs arising from the sale of its stainless steel division. In the comparable first quarter of last year it made a net profit of 640 million dollars. ArcelorMittal said that in the first quarter sales had risen by 27.3 percent on a 12-month basis to 22.2 billion dollars. It made a gross operating profit of $2.6 billion, marking an increase of 52 percent. This was slightly higher than its forecast range of 2.0-2.5 billion euros. The outcome included the recovery of $300 million in the form of unused provisions. Chief executive Lakshmi Mittal, rated by the UK\'s Sunday Times as Britain\'s richest man, said that as the company had expected, activity had picked up at the beginning of the year and the price for steel had risen. This trend should be even more pronounced in the second quarter, he said. The company remained confident that 2011 would be a better year than 2010. In its latest update of its list, the Sunday Times this week said India-born Mittal\'s fortune shrank by around 22 percent to £17.5 billion in the past 12 months, but he remains much wealthier than the second person on the rich list, Russian businessman Alisher Usmanov who moved up from sixth place after swelling his fortune by £7.7 billion to £12.4 billion.