TOKYO, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Nippon Steel Corp. , Japan's largest steel maker, plans to pay its first interim dividend in 14 years as half-year earnings should beat initial forecasts, a Japanese business daily said on Saturday.
The Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) said Nippon Steel was likely to pay out 4 yen per share as a half-year dividend.
The Japanese steel sector has seen an earnings uptrend, helped by increasing demand for high-end products, and other firms, including JFE Holdings Inc. , the world's fourth-biggest steel maker, have also said they are eyeing an interim dividend.
JFE is expected to pay 50 yen per share, the Nikkei said.
Toshikuni Yamazaki, JFE's executive vice president, told Reuters earlier this month that higher export prices combined with a recent rise in shipment volumes and high-end steel production, would lead to stronger-than-expected results for the April-September period.
Yamazaki said JFE was considering a half-year dividend for the first time since the company was established in Sept. 2002, under its policy of boosting returns to shareholders and fending off any unsolicited takeover bids.
Last month, the world's then second-biggest steel maker Arcelor accepted a $31 billion takeover offer from Mittal Steel to form a steel giant three times larger than its nearest rival, Nippon Steel.
Japanese steel firms will revise their half-year and full-year earnings forecasts next month after annual price talks on automotive sheet steel and shipbuilding plates are completed.
Most analysts expect full-year profits to top the companies' forecasts after they announced stronger-than-expected first-quarter results last month.