Nucor Corp., the largest U.S. steel maker by production, on Thursday reported its third quarterly loss in a row, hurt by higher material costs and weak demand for the metal.
Nucor recorded a third-quarter loss of $29.5 million, or 10 cents per share, reflecting a broad decline in the steel industry. The Charlotte, N.C.-based company earned $734.6 million, or $2.31 per share, during the same period a year earlier, when robust sales from newly acquired steel and scrap-metal companies bolstered results.
Like other steel companies, Nucor has grappled with weaker orders from major customers in the automotive, construction and equipment industries since the global economy deteriorated late last year.
Costs related to faster consumption of expensive pig iron stockpiles at Nucor's sheet steel mills weighed down the company's results by about $180 million, or 37 cents per share, in the latest quarter. Nucor said it bought those stockpiles at relatively high prices before the economy collapsed last year.
Quarterly sales plunged 58 percent to $3.12 billion from $7.45 billion.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, on average, expected a loss of 15 cents per share on revenue of $2.98 billion. Analyst estimates typically exclude one-time items.
Looking ahead, Nucor said its fourth-quarter results will benefit from "a significant improvement" in raw material costs, but could be hurt by lower production of sheet and bar products.
The fourth quarter typically is affected by a seasonal slowdown due to the holidays and year-end plant shutdowns by some of Nucor's customers, the company said.
More broadly, Nucor said steel demand remains low and "is in for a long, slow recovery.
"The uncertainty in our economy is still very high," the company said.
Shares of Nucor slid $1.49, or 3.2 percent, to $44.51 in morning trading.