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Russia's Mechel Mines Profits

has thrived by tapping

Russia-based Mechel (MTL) has thrived by tapping into the country's rich mineral resources.

The Moscow firm has two segments: mining and metal. Its mining operations dug up 17 million tons of coal last year. Meanwhile, its metals segment churned out nearly 6 million tons of steel. Mechel also mines nickel, pig iron and iron ore concentrate.

It's been snatching up companies in other former communist countries. In January it completed its acquisition of a Romanian steel plant from that country's government. Mechel invested more than $38 million in the company - now known as Mechel Targoviste - improving its equipment, environmental safeguards and repaying its debt.

Mechel, which came public in the U.S. in October 2004, ran into trouble in terms of earnings growth in 2005. Its fortunes seem to have improved since then. Its earnings rose 60% in the second quarter and 166% in the third quarter.

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