Nucor's Q1 Profit Falls as Shipments Slip


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)Nucor Corp. said Thursday that its first-quarter net income fell 9 percent. Shipments of steel declined slightly and prices didn't improve until the last month of the quarter.

Shares fell 5 percent in midday trading after the company forecast only a modest improvement in the second quarter.

Nucor said demand from manufacturers was strong, including auto makers, builders of heavy equipment and the energy industry. The construction market improved slightly and remained "very challenging," Nucor stated.

The Charlotte, N.C., manufacturer reported net income of $145.1 million, or 46 cents per share, in the first three months. That compared with net income of $159.8 million, or 50 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2011.

Revenue rose 5 percent to $5.07 billion from $4.83 billion.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet had predicted earnings of 43 cents per share on revenue of $5.03 billion. Such estimates typically exclude one-time items.

Nucor said its average sales price per ton of steel rose 6 percent during the quarter but shipments to outside customers fell 1 percent. Energy costs dropped $2 per ton from a year ago, primarily because of cheaper natural gas. It also said margins in its raw materials business were unexpectedly weak.

The steel industry has faced a challenging environment because of uncertainty about the pace of global economic growth. That led to weaker prices in January and February, although prices and demand improved in March.

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