Nucor first-quarter earnings beat anaylsts’ expectations

Charlotte-based Nucor Corp., the largest U.S. steelmaker by market value, reported first-quarter earnings that beat analysts’ estimates after the metal’s price climbed.

Net income rose to $111 million, or 35 cents a share, from $84.8 million, or 26 cents, a year earlier, the company said Thursday. Profit excluding one-time items was 41 cents a share, beating the 38-cent average of 13 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Sales climbed to $5.11 billion from $4.55 billion, exceeding the $4.84 billion average of 12 estimates.

Domestic steel prices rose as construction spending climbed in the first two months of the year while U.S. Steel Corp., the largest domestic producer of the metal by volume, had operational problems that affected output at two facilities.

The price of hot-rolled steel coil, a benchmark product used in cars, building and appliances, rose 6 percent from a year earlier to average $655.83 a ton in the first quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from The Steel Index, a trade publication.

U.S. construction spending climbed by 9.1 percent in January and February compared with the year-earlier period, on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data. Building and construction uses about half of the steel consumed in the U.S., according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Nucor melts scrap steel in electric furnaces to produce metal that’s sold to customers including appliance manufacturer Whirlpool Corp., and Bluelinx Holdings Inc., a distributor of building products. The company also sells steel used in cars, trucks and construction equipment.

Nucor shares closed Thursday at $51.49, down 2 percent.