updated 4/26/2005 9:34:51 AM ET 2005-04-26T13:34:51

United States Steel Corp., the nation’s second-largest steel producer, posted a steep rise in profit for the first quarter Tuesday as sharply higher sales outpaced an increase in operating costs.

Quarterly income jumped to $451 million, or $3.48 per share, from $54 million, or 47 cents, in the year-ago period. Before distributing preferred dividends, net income amounted to $455 million.

The latest results also included a gain from settling a property tax dispute that boosted net income by $58 million, or 45 cents per share, U.S. Steel said.

Net sales totaled $3.76 billion, up 29 percent from $2.92 billion a year earlier on greater average selling prices for all of its products. Meanwhile, operating expenses rose just 13 percent to $3.12 billion.

U.S. Steel’s earnings eclipsed the average estimate for earnings of $2.37 per share and $3.71 billion in sales from analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

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