Lower steel prices, a challenging energy market and continued losses at its St. James mill are expected to drop Nucor Corp.'s first-quarter results to the range of 10 cents to 15 cents per share, the company reported Thursday.
Nucor earned 35 cents per share during the first quarter of 2014. Oil's collapse has led to a glut of pipe and tubing, but Nucor expects overall steel demand to meet or exceed the levels seen in 2014.
Nucor Steel Louisiana's plant in Convent has been shut down since November, when a process gas heater failed. Nucor said it is close to completing repairs at the plant, which should be restarted sometime before the end of the month. The shutdown cost Nucor $30 million, or 6 cents per share, in the fourth quarter. Nucor expects a loss of $37 million, or 8 cents per share, at its Louisiana operations for the first quarter.
The Louisiana plant burns natural gas to make high-purity pellets from iron ore. Nucor mixes the pellets with scrap metal to make steel.
Nucor's earnings guidance falls well short of Wall Street's expectations.
Stock analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research had forecast a first-quarter profit of 39 cents per share.