Nucor Corporation (NYSE: NUE) reported stronger-than-expected revenue and earnings for the first quarter of 2019. Shares were up 1.8% during morning hours on Tuesday.
Consolidated sales increased approx. 10% year-over-year to $6.10 billion. Net earnings improved to $501.8 million, or $1.63 per share, from $354.2 million, or $1.10 per share, in the same period a year ago. The Q1 2019 results include a benefit of $33.7 million, or $0.08 per share, related to the gain on the sale of an equity method investment in the raw materials segment.
Average sales price per ton increased 13% compared to last year. A total of 6,767,000 tons were shipped to outside customers during the quarter, a decrease of 3% year-over-year. Total steel mill shipments fell 4% while downstream steel products shipments to outside customers dropped 3% compared to last year.
Overall operating rates at Nucor’s steel mills decreased to 87% in the first quarter from 92% in the same period last year.
Last month, Nucor announced its plans to build a new steel plate mill in Brandenburg, Kentucky. The new mill will have an estimated annual capacity of 1.2 million tons and employ approx. 400 people. The project is expected to take around three years to complete and be fully operational in 2022.
For the second quarter of 2019, Nucor expects earnings to be similar to the first quarter, excluding the gain on the sale of the equity method investment. The performance of the steel mills segment is anticipated to be consistent to the first quarter as margin improvements in structural and bar mill products are expected to offset margin weakness in sheet and plate mill products.
Nucor’s steel products segment is expected to see a significant improvement in profitability compared to the first quarter, as typical seasonal patterns and improved weather conditions are likely to benefit non-residential construction markets.
The performance of the raw materials segment is expected to decelerate compared to the first quarter due to margin compression in the DRI businesses.
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