Nucor Earnings Beat Analysts’ Estimates as Construction Climbs

Nucor Corp., the biggest U.S. steelmaker by market value, reported first-quarter earnings that beat analysts’ estimates after U.S. construction began to recover.

Net income fell to $84.8 million, or 26 cents a share, from $145.1 million, or 46 cents, a year earlier, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company said today in a statement. Analysts projected profit of 24 cents, the average of 17 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales declined to $4.55 billion from $5.07 billion a year earlier.

U.S. construction spending rose 7 percent in January and February compared with the first two months of last year, according to data released April 1 by the U.S. Department of Commerce. About 42 percent of domestic steel shipments were used in construction last year, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

“The construction market has continued to show positive signs,” Brian Yu, a San Francisco-based analyst at Citigroup Global Markets Inc., wrote in a research note yesterday.

Nucor bought Skyline Steel LLC from ArcelorMittal in June to add products used in building foundations, bridges and locks and dams. Nucor recycles scrap steel in electric furnaces and is building a plant in Louisiana to process iron ore with natural gas.

Hot-rolled steel coil, a benchmark product used in automobiles and appliances fell 8.8 percent to average $620 a short ton in the quarter, compared with $680 a year earlier, according to data from The Steel Index, a trade publication.