Business

Nucor earnings fall 39% as imports drive down prices

Congressional Steel Caucus Vice Chair Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., right, greets, from left, ArcelorMittal USA President and CEO Michael Rippey, Nucor Corporation Chairman, President, and CEO John Ferriola, and US Steel Corporation President and CEO Mario Longhi, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 26, 2015, before a Congressional Steel Caucus hearing to discuss the state of the U.S. steel industry.
Congressional Steel Caucus Vice Chair Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., right, greets, from left, ArcelorMittal USA President and CEO Michael Rippey, Nucor Corporation Chairman, President, and CEO John Ferriola, and US Steel Corporation President and CEO Mario Longhi, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 26, 2015, before a Congressional Steel Caucus hearing to discuss the state of the U.S. steel industry. AP

Nucor, the Charlotte-based steelmaker, said Thursday its earnings fell nearly 39 percent from a year ago, as an influx in steel imports continues to drive down prices.

The Fortune 500 company reported consolidated net earnings of $67.8 million, or 21 cents per diluted share, for this year’s first quarter, compared with $111 million, or 35 cents per diluted share, for the first quarter of 2014. Its net sales fell 14 percent to $4.4 billion from $5.1 billion at the same time last year, and decreased 12 percent compared with $5 billion in the fourth quarter last year.

Nucor lowered its earning expectations last year amid concerns that an increased global supply of steel imports is pushing down its prices. Last month, Nucor CEO John Ferriola joined other leading U.S. steelmakers in warning members of Congress about the dangers of foreign steel flooding U.S. markets.

Ferriola told members of the bipartisan Congressional Steel Caucus that steel mills will continue to close and more Americans will lose their jobs unless the U.S. government works to stop illegal foreign trade practices that he says are undercutting domestic steel manufacturers.

Nucor reported Thursday that steel mill shipments had fallen 10 percent from the same period last year, and decreased 8 percent from the fourth quarter.

Despite the weaker performance, the firm said demand in the automotive and non-residential construction markets remain strong.

The company still faces challenges, it said, as falling oil prices have resulted in high levels of imported goods flooding the energy sector, creating an excess of supply in pipes and tubes.

The company says it expects earnings to improve by the second quarter, although a statement from the company noted that imports remain at “exceptionally high levels” and selling prices have not stabilized.

Nucor employs about 100 people at its SouthPark headquarters.

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