Nucor ups third-quarter profit guidance, expected to beat quarterly earnings record of $683 million

by Wesley Brown (wesbrocomm@gmail.com) 300 views 

Coming off the highest quarterly profits in the company’s history and with plans to expand its sheet cold mill factory in Northeast Arkansas, Nucor Corp. has upped its previous guidance that could boost third-quarter earnings by an extra $100 million.

At the close of market on Friday (Sept. 14), Nucor said it now expects third-quarter results to be in the range of $2.35 to $2.40 per diluted share, up from $2.13 in the previous quarter and 79 cents per share a year ago. Nucor said those results include a projected third quarter benefit of approximately $25 million, or $0.06 per diluted share, related to insurance recoveries.

A survey of Wall Street analysts forecasts Nucor to report third-quarter earnings of $2.39 per share, an expected 200% jump from net earnings of $268 million a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters.

“Earnings in the third quarter of 2018 are expected to continue the trend of strong 2018 performance,” Nucor said in a statement. “We continue to believe there is sustainable strength in steel end use markets. We expect the performance of our steel mills segment in the third quarter of 2018 to increase compared to the second quarter of 2018 due primarily to higher earnings at our sheet mills and plate mills, despite the impact of both planned and weather-related outages at certain mills.”

Nucor announced plans in early May to expand the company’s sheet cold mill facility in Hickman (Mississippi County) with a new galvanizing line by the first half of 2021. That $240 million investment will add 100 new jobs to the company’s 1,700-person workforce in Mississippi County, improving Nucor’s annual steel producing capacity by 500,000 tons.

Nucor also booked its highest quarterly profits in the company’s history at $683 million, which more than doubled the $323 million total in the second quarter of 2017. Those record earnings have left the North Carolina steelmaker with $1.5 billion in cash on hand, a credit line of the same amount and hundreds of millions more from the 2017 corporate tax cut.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based steel producer is also said to be one of the potential bidders for the assets of Big River Steel LLC in northeast Arkansas. In late August, a Big River spokesperson told Talk Business & Politics that the company was fielding funding offers and reviewing “strategic alternatives” amid the domestic steel industry’s recent upswing as the gap between U.S. and international steel prices has widened.

“Big River Steel is in the midst of a historic ramp up in terms of both product capability and profitability,” said the company spokesperson, who preferred to go unnamed. “This success has attracted the attention of the world’s steelmaking and financial communities resulting in some looking to align with Big River Steel. As a growth-oriented company, Big River Steel is constantly evaluating various strategic options and funding alternatives.”

Since the Trump administration in March imposed $200 billion in tariffs on steel and aluminum against China and U.S. allies in Europe, Canada and Mexico, Nucor and other U.S. steelmakers have benefited from improved commodity prices and emerged as one of the big winners in the ongoing U.S. trade war.

Data from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows the U.S. Treasury has collected an extra $1.4 billion in tax revenue from the industry this year. As talks continue that could impose further tariffs on China, administration officials estimate another $6 billion could be collected by the end of 2018.

In its continued support of the U.S. steel industry, the Trump administration last week introduced a new interactive tool that provides extensive and timely steel trade data for the top global steel importing countries and exporting countries.

“Timely detailed data in user friendly formats are essential both for enforcement and for policy determinations,” said Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “This interactive Global Steel Trade Monitor will strengthen U.S. companies’ and the U.S. government’s ability to track trade flows to better understand the relevant trends in this essential sector.”

According to Commerce Department officials, the online tool gives users the flexibility to select customized import and export flows in graphic and detailed charts for flat, long, pipe and tube, semi-finished, and stainless-steel products. It can also produce more than 20,000 charts that will be updated more frequently than the current comprehensive country reports, officials.

To review the new Global Steel Trade Monitor, click here.

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