The unexpected stock that's doubled this year

Steel yourself: The best-performing stock in the broad S&P 1500 index probably isn't one you'd expect.

Shares of U.S. Steel have risen more than 100 percent this year, for a clean double. This as the stock has benefited from preliminary U.S. duties on certain steel products, which could improve the supply/demand dynamics.

To be sure, this has not been a winning trade over the long term. U.S. Steel has still lost two-thirds of its value over the past five years. And on the credit side, the stock's bonds are rated sub-investment-grade by the three major ratings agencies.

After the stock's tremendous gains, it may about time to take some profits, says Erin Gibbs, equity chief investment officer of S&P Investment Advisory.

"I see the stock as fully valued and I do not see more upside," Gibbs wrote to CNBC. Even if the duties help, the stock will still have to contend with large import levels of steel into the U.S., troubles for the domestic manufacturing sector, a strong U.S. dollar that weighs on commodity prices, and low energy prices that reduce the demand for steel products necessary in oil exploration and production, Gibbs points out.

Valuing the Pittsburgh-based company using traditional methods is a bit of a challenge. The company, which traces its history back to 1901, reported a loss of $1.6 billion last year. And strikingly, analysts don't expect the company to be profitable again until 2018.

Perhaps it is unsurprising that these analysts, as a group, appear to think the stock has run far ahead of its valuation. According to FactSet, the median price target on the stock is $10.50, which is 40 percent below Tuesday's closing price.


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Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's “Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET).   In addition, he contributes to CNBCand CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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