Industrial CEO: The U.S. Economy Has Legs But Needs Less Bureaucracy
David Burritt, CEO of U.S. Steel, who attended KeyBanc Capital Markets’ Industrials & Basic Materials Conference, believes environmental deregulation helps make U.S.-based companies more competitive on a global scale.
“Bureaucracy is just weighing down this country,” Burritt says. “Foreign competitors don’t have to deal with any of this.”
Yet Burritt says U.S. Steel wants to make sure the environment is clean and safe and to do the right thing.
“But the heaviness we suffer, whether it’s our tax return or other issues, is beyond the pale,” he says. “We have to fix this kind of stuff. But it’s so much better already, just in a short period of time.”
U.S. Steel has pivoted toward profitable growth. Its business is getting stronger and healthier, but it hasn’t seen the peak yet, according to Burritt.
“We think the economy has legs,” he says. “The yield curve may be flattening a bit, but it’s nowhere close to being dangerous.”
U.S. Steel, which has a $2 billion investment program through 2020, is going to increase its production capacity by about 10%. A breakthrough opportunity for the company is advanced high-strength steel, an area of the company’s business Burritt expects to grow half a million tons.
“We’re spending money, and we’ve prepared for it the past few years because we’ve reduced our cash conversion cycle time to a low level of about 30 days, which is an industry best practice,” Burritt says. “We’ve been able to finance this largely with working capital. We see better days ahead, so long as the geopolitical issues are managed well. Let’s create a level playing field, and we’ll continue to invest for growth.”