Nucor Warning Hits Steel Stocks

Steelmaker Nucor said it expects fourth-quarter earnings to be well below Wall Street projections on lower-than-expected spot market prices for steel sheet and bars as well as higher-than-expected scrap metal costs.

The company said it expects fourth-quarter earnings of $1.05 to $1.15 a share. The average forecast of analysts polled by Thomson Financial was $1.41 a share.

Nucor, which makes steel by melting down scrap metal, said weak spot prices and scrap costs that have not dropped as much as projected were squeezing its margins.

It also said high levels of stockpiles by its customers and surging imports hurt its fourth-quarter production and shipments, which will dip marginally from last year and fall 12% to 15% from third-quarter levels.

Shares of other steel makers were also lower Tuesday.