Nucor's 3Q profit falls 39 pct. on lower sales

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Nucor Corp.'s third-quarter net income plunged 39 percent on lower sales and prices as demand for steel fell in the sluggish global economy.

The company still managed to beat analysts' expectations for earnings, but its outlook for the rest of the year was bleak.

Nucor said Thursday that it earned $110.3 million, or 35 cents per share, in the July-through-September quarter. That compared with $181.5 million, or 57 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

The company took a non-cash accounting charge of $28.2 million, or 6 cents per share, related to the acquisition of Skyline Steel LLC. It also posted a loss of $17.6 million, or 4 cents per share, on the sale of some assets. Excluding those one-time items, adjusted earnings were 45 cents per share.

Revenue fell 8.6 percent to $4.8 billion. The average sales price per ton dropped 8 percent from a year ago. Steel mill shipments fell about 2 percent.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet predicted, on average, earnings of 41 cents per share on revenue of $4.81 billion.

Nucor and other steelmakers have struggled as demand has dropped because of slower economic growth around the world. Also, supplies are bulging because of a sharp increase in imports and new production at domestic facilities.

There were some bright spots in Nucor's most recent quarter. The Charlotte, N.C., company said demand was strong from manufacturers of heavy equipment, automobiles and from the energy industry. But the construction market was weak.

Nucor doesn't see the global economy improving much anytime soon, and it expects earnings to fall in the fourth quarter.

Nucor shares rose 36 cents to $40.77 in morning trading. The stock has ranged from $34.23 to $45.75 during the past 52 weeks.