Nucor profit beats estimates as auto demand for steel recovers

Oct 17 2013 - 9:16am

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Nucor Corp.
Nucor Corp.

NEW YORK -- Nucor Corp., the largest U.S. steelmaker by market value, reported third-quarter earnings that beat analysts' estimates amid a recovery in the U.S. auto industry.

Net income increased to $147.6 million, or 46 cents a share, from $110.3 million, or 35 cents, a year earlier, the Charlotte, N.C.-based company said Thursday in a statement. Profit excluding one-time items was 49 cents a share, surpassing the 39-cent average of 19 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales climbed to $4.94 billion, exceeding the $4.8 billion average estimate.

Nucor has a plant in Box Elder County near Plymouth that employs approximately 380 people. According to the business-monitoring website Manta, the plant has an average annual revenue of more than $19 million.

The Utah plant primarily makes steel tire chords and tire chord fabrics for the auto industry.

Carmakers are on track this year for the most deliveries in the U.S. since 2007, according to researcher Autodata Corp. That's helping demand at Nucor and other U.S. steelmakers, with domestic plants operating at an average of 78 percent of capacity in the third quarter, compared with 75 percent a year earlier, according American Iron and Steel Institute data.

Nissan and BMW are among Nucor customers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The average price of hot-rolled steel coil, a benchmark product used in automobiles and appliances, increased 1.7 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier to $646 a ton, according to data from The Steel Index.

Nucor rose 0.7 percent to $49.82 Wednesday in New York. The shares have gained 15 percent this year.

Nucor is starting up a plant in Louisiana to refine iron ore with natural gas instead of the traditional coke made from coal, creating a product that can be used in Nucor's electric furnaces. One of the storage domes at the factory collapsed in September, delaying startup until the end of the year, Nucor said in a Sept. 26 statement.

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