UPDATE 1-Nucor Q4 earnings rise on stronger sales, shipments

Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:52am EST

Jan 28 (Reuters) - Nucor Corp, the largest U.S. steel producer, said on Tuesday that earnings rose in the fourth quarter, helped by stronger sales and shipments as well as a noncash gain related to deferred tax balances.

The earnings beat Nucor's own forecast made in December, even excluding the impact of the tax gain and a smaller than expected inventory charge.

North Carolina-based Nucor, which is the largest producer of steel in the United States by volume, said it sees earnings in the current quarter similar to the fourth quarter, excluding the tax adjustment.

Seasonal weakness and bad weather may weigh on Nucor's construction products business, but the company expects to benefit from having fewer planned outages during the quarter.

Massive excess capacity has steelmakers under pressure around the world. In the United States, output contracted 2 percent in 2013, but there was also a noticeable increase in prices in the second half of the year as demand improved.

Nucor said total shipments to customers rose 10 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012.

Net earnings increased to $170.5 million, or 53 cents a share, from $136.9 million, or 43 cents, a year earlier. Net sales rose 10 percent to $4.89 billion.

In December, Nucor had forecast fourth-quarter earnings of 35 to 40 cents a share, and analysts, on average, had been expecting earnings of 40 cents on revenue of $4.78 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Fourth quarter earnings included a 7 cent a share gain to correct deferred tax balances and 4 cent charge on the value of inventory, smaller than the 6 cent charge Nucor had forecast.

Shares edged higher, rising 0.7 percent at $48.77 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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