Nucor ups earnings forecast

Nucor Corp., the largest U.S.-based steelmaker by market value, said third-quarter profit will rise more than previously expected because of improved general performance and revenue from acquisitions.

Profit in the quarter ending Sept. 27 will be $2.15 to $2.20 a share, higher than an earlier forecast of $1.80 to $1.85, the Charlotte-based company said Monday. The company earned $1.29 a share in the same period last year.

Nucor has said 2008 may be a record year as demand for steel increases in the Middle East, Brazil and India. The company is expanding in Europe and seeking greater control of raw materials, including scrap metal. A third-quarter profit of $2.15 would be the company's highest ever, surpassing the $1.94 a share Nucor earned in the second quarter.

“The market, sadly, won't care today, but will over the next few days as investors search for the perennial babies thrown out with the bathwater,” Michelle Applebaum, who runs a steel-equities research firm in Highland Park, Ill., said Monday. “The shares are the cheapest in the sector as well as the best value.”

Nucor fell $5.19, or 11 percent, to $44.20 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have declined 25 percent this year.

Chief Executive Officer Dan DiMicco is expanding through joint ventures and acquisitions to boost earnings and reduce Nucor's reliance on the U.S. market. The company shipped about 10 percent of its steel output overseas last year and has said exports this year may increase to a record.

Nucor may spend billions on international growth in the next few years, DiMicco said April 17.

The company plans to expand in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Mexico, he said.