Nucor Corp., Charlotte, North Carolina, has announced guidance for its fourth quarter of 2019, ending Dec. 31. The steelmaker, which operates scrap-fed electric arc furnace mills, says it expects fourth-quarter earnings to be in the range of 25-to-30 cents per diluted share. This range is a decrease compared with third-quarter 2019 earnings of 90 cents per diluted share and a decrease relative to fourth-quarter 2018 earnings of $2.07 per diluted share.
Nucor says it expects the performance of its steel mills segment to decrease in the fourth quarter compared with the third quarter of 2019 as lower steel prices at the end of the third quarter have affected fourth-quarter results. “During the fourth quarter, domestic scrap metal prices have risen markedly and our sheet, plate, structural and bar mills have all implemented price increases,” the company says. “We believe this reflects healthy underlying demand for our steel mill products. We expect that the performance of our steel mills segment will improve as we head into 2020, reflecting the impact of the price increases and normal seasonality.”
In the last two months of 2019, ferrous scrap prices increased after falling for much of the year in response to renewed interest from some overseas buyers and a willingness by domestic mills to re-enter the market. Ferrous scrap prices gained $20 per ton on average in the United States in the early November buying period. This was followed by gains of roughly $30 per ton in the December buying period, according to pricing from Fastmarkets AMM.
Nucor says the profitability of its steel products segment in the fourth quarter is expected to decrease slightly as compared with the third quarter of 2019 because of normal year-end seasonality. However, the steelmaker says it expects the profitability of the steel products segment in the fourth quarter to be the best fourth quarter in that segment’s history and significantly higher than the fourth quarter of 2018.
Losses of the raw materials segment are expected to increase in the fourth quarter as compared to the third quarter because of the impact of Nucor’s Louisiana direct-reduced iron plant’s planned outage that was completed in mid-November and because of expected further margin compression throughout its raw materials businesses.