Nucor Corp., the largest U.S. steelmaker by market value, forecast fourth-quarter earnings that missed analysts’ estimates after higher imports squeezed margins at its mills.
The company expects earnings after one-time items to fall to 25 cents to 30 cents a share in the fourth quarter from 43 cents a year earlier, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company said in a statement today. That’s less than the 33-cent average of 19 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Nucor and other domestic steelmakers are struggling with demand that hasn’t returned to levels seen prior to the 2008 financial crisis. Imports have climbed 16 percent this year through October, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. U.S. steel production has fallen 4 percent so far in the fourth quarter from a year ago to average 1.76 million tons, according to data from the American Iron and Steel Institute.
“Lower steel mill margins are primarily impacting our bar and plate steel mills reflecting the cumulative impact of high import levels and general economic uncertainty,” Nucor said in the statement.
The average price of hot-rolled coil, a benchmark steel product used in appliances and automobiles, has dropped 5.3 percent this quarter compared with a year earlier, according to data from Steel Business Briefing, a trade publication.
Steel Dynamics Inc. will earn 12 to 16 cents in the quarter, excluding a 6-cent favorable tax adjustment, compared with 14 cents a year earlier, the Fort Wayne, Indiana-based company said in a statement after the close of regular trading yesterday. Analysts estimated an average 12 cents a share, according to 19 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Nucor, which remelts scrap steel in electric furnaces, rose 2.1 percent to $43.64 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 10 percent this year. Steel Dynamics rose 2.8 percent to $14.14.
U.S. Steel Corp. is the largest U.S. producer of the metal by volume.