Jan. 8 - China's 80 largest steel makers generated a profit of 3.28 billion yuan ($526.42 million) in November.
But oversupply and a string of unprofitable months caused their revenue for the year to remain in the red up to that month, analysts said.
Statistics from the China Iron and Steel Association showed that major Chinese steel firms returned to reporting profits in November after bringing a four-month series of losses to an end a month earlier.
In the first 11 months of last year, the 80 major steel makers posted a loss of 1.97 billion yuan, Wang Qinghai, chairman of the association, said during a meeting on Saturday.
Chinese steel makers made meager profits in March, April and May and reported losses in the following months, only improving their performance in the fourth quarter.
Throughout 2012, Chinese steel makers' capital chain continued to worsen as financing costs increased, Wang said.
From January to November, members of the China Iron and Steel Association saw their revenue fall by 5.37 percent year-on-year, while their loans increased by 6.58 percent and their financial costs by 24.38 percent, Wang said.
"The asset-to-liability ratio of the member companies had increased by about 1.64 percentage points year-on-year to 68.67 percent by the end of November," Wang said.
Analysts said they expected the steel industry to extend its good performance into December, but were pessimistic the industry would report a profit for the whole year.