Key Points:

Steel & Tube saw profit slide 42 per cent for the first half, worse than a previously forecast decline of up to a quarter, despite a 7 per cent rise in revenue.

Net profit fell to $8.6 million for the six months ended December due to steel price volatility and pressure on margins from competition, while revenue rose to $245.6 million.

Before costs totalling $1.6m for restructuring the Hurricane Wire Products business, net profit of $10.1m was in line with forecast.

"The company's three key market segments of construction, manufacturing and the rural sector all suffered to a varying degree, as the combination of exchange rate volatility, high interest rates and reduced growth in consumer spending slowed the economy," Steel & Tube chief executive Nick Calavrias said.

The value of product sold rose, influenced by higher nickel prices for stainless steel, while volume was little changed.

Trading was expected to remain tough until later in the year due to slowing consumer spending and higher costs for businesses.

"Provided that the economy does not slow further, the company is comfortable with the guidance provided at the annual meeting that the second half profit will be in line with last year's comparable period," he said.

An interim dividend of 9cps will be payable on March 31.

Shares in Steel & Tube, half-owned by Australia's OneSteel, were unchanged at $3.60.

- NZPA