UPDATE 1-U.S. steelmaker Nucor sees earnings at low end of last forecast

Fri Jun 20, 2014 9:55am EDT

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(Adds details on direct reduced iron facility, construction industry)

June 20 (Reuters) - Steelmaker Nucor Corp forecast a rise in second-quarter earnings on Friday, but said results would likely come in at the low end of its previous outlook after a shutdown at a new facility in Louisiana.

Nucor forecast earnings between 35 cents and 40 cents a share, up from 27 cents a share a year earlier. The company had previously forecast "some improvement" from the first quarter, when it earned 35 cents a share. It said the new forecast is at the low end of its previous expectations.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based company sees a loss of $30 million, or 6 cents a share, at its new direct reduced iron plant in Louisiana in the quarter. The plant started production in December, and volume has been better than expected but yield needs work, Nucor said. It has shut the plant down for three weeks of adjustments.

Made from iron ore, direct reduced iron is a raw material used to make steel, and a substitute for scrap, Nucor's traditional feedstock.

Nucor said the plant's performance should improve significantly in the third quarter, and it expects the facility to be profitable by the end of the year.

Demand for steel plate and sheet products has been strong, Nucor said, and conditions have improved in the non-residential construction market.

"Although nonresidential construction markets are at historically low levels, they are improving. Accordingly, we expect further increased operating profits in our fabricated construction products businesses going forward," the company said in a statement. (Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Paul Simao)

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