Nucor falls after profit forecast trails estimates

Shares of steel maker Nucor Corp. fell Thursday as investors focused on what appeared to be a disappointing third-quarter outlook instead of record second-quarter results.

The stock closed down 11.1 percent – but not before dropping 15.9 percent in intraday trading. Since June 5, shares of Nucor have fallen more than 25 percent.

Thursday's share price tumble came despite Nucor reporting that strong shipments and growing margins propelled its second-quarter profit 68 percent higher to $580.8 million, or $1.94 per share, from $344.9 million, or $1.14 per share, a year ago.

Revenue rose 70 percent to $7.09 billion from $4.17 billion a year ago. The average sales price climbed 24 percent, and the total amount shipped to outside customers jumped 38 percent to slightly more than 7.7 million tons.

The results easily beat the average estimates of analysts polled by Thomson Financial, who expected earnings per share of $1.83 on sales of $6.37 billion.

For the third quarter, Nucor forecast earnings per share of $1.80 to $1.85 – below the $1.95 per share that analysts expect, according to Thomson Financial. That sent shares down sharply.

But Soleil-Bradford Research analyst Charles Bradford said in a phone call with The Associated Press that “people misread the (third quarter) guidance, which was down because of May's share dilution.”

On May 29, Nucor increased shares outstanding by 27.7 million shares, and at the end of June had 299.8 million shares outstanding.