Pouring molten steelThree U.S. steelmakers reported earnings before markets opened this morning. AK Steel Holding Corp. (NYSE: AKS), United States Steel Corp. (NYSE: X) and Nucor Corp. (NYSE: NUE). Given all the recent bad news about the steel industry, these three fared pretty well.

AK Steel posted an adjusted fourth-quarter EPS loss of $0.30, compared with a loss of $0.57 per share in the year-ago quarter. Revenues for the quarter totaled $1.42 billion, down from $1.51 billion a year ago. The consensus estimate called for an EPS loss of $0.35 on revenues of $1.42 billion.

For the full year the company posted an adjusted EPS loss of $0.57 on revenues of $5.93 billion. The consensus estimate called for an EPS loss of $0.61 on revenues of $5.93 billion.

United States Steel posted a diluted EPS loss of $0.35 on revenues of $4.49 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with a consensus estimate for an EPS loss of $0.75 on revenues of $4.35 billion. A year ago the company posted an EPS loss of $1.46 on revenues of $4.82 billion.

For the full year, U.S. Steel posted an EPS loss of $0.86 on revenues of $19.33 billion, compared with a 2011 full-year EPS loss of $0.37 on revenues of $19.88 billion. The consensus estimate called for an EPS loss of $0.86 on revenues of $19.11 billion.

Nucor reported fourth-quarter diluted EPS of $0.43 on revenues of $4.45 billion, compared with EPS of $0.43 on revenues of $4.83 billion in the year-ago quarter. The consensus estimate called for EPS of $0.31 on revenues of $4.55 billion.

For the full year, Nucor posted EPS of $1.58 on revenues of $19.43 billion, compared with EPS of $2.45 on revenues of $20.02 billion in 2011. The consensus estimate called for EPS of $1.64 on revenues of $19.56 billion.

There were large noncash adjustments to income at AK Steel, and Nucor benefited from a credit to value inventories, but neither of these adjustments is unusual.

Sales were down at all three companies as average prices per ton decreased by around 3% to 4% and shipments declined as well.

AK Steel will provide guidance in March, but the consensus estimate for the first quarter calls for an EPS loss of $0.04 on revenues of $1.48 billion. For the full-year, the estimates call for EPS of $0.10 on revenues of $6.04 billion.

United States Steel expects first-quarter results to be "comparable" to fourth-quarter results. The consensus estimate calls for EPS of $0.31 on revenues of $4.63 billion. For the full year, the consensus estimate calls for EPS of $1.51 on revenues of $18.89 billion.

Nucor expects first-quarter earnings to come in below fourth-quarter results. The consensus first-quarter estimate calls for EPS of $0.60 on revenues of $5.01 billion. For the full year, the consensus estimate calls for EPS of $2.78 on revenues of $20.42 billion.

It could be that the steelmakers are sandbagging their first-quarter forecasts, but given the uncertainty that remains in the global economy, it is easy to understand their caution.

Shares in AK Steel and Nucor are up slightly, while U.S. Steel shares are down slightly in early trading today.


Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Commodities & Metals, Earnings, Metals Tagged: AKS, NUE, X

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