July 21, 2011 / 1:11 PM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 4-Nucor profit beats expectations, but warns on Q3

* Q2 EPS 94 cents vs Street view 81 cents

* Sales rise 22 pct to $5.11 bln

* Expects Q3 results to be down from Q2

* Shares rise 2 percent (Adds executive comments, stock rises)

By Steve James

NEW YORK, July 21 (Reuters) - Nucor Corp (NUE.N) said second-quarter profit tripled, beating Wall Street estimates, but the steelmaker warned results in the current quarter would be lower because of pricing pressure from steel imports and sluggish demand in some industrial sectors.

"We remain very concerned about imports across all product lines," said President and Chief Operating Officer John Ferriola. "It is important for the U.S. government to vigorously enforce the anti-dumping, countervailing duty laws.

"No product line is immune from the negative impact of illegally traded steel, and it is important that existing anti-dumping orders be maintained in the U.S. industry, to remain viable," he told Wall Street analysts.

On the same conference call, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dan DiMicco repeated his call for Washington to enforce trade laws and get the economy back on track to drive steel demand.

"Recent economic data are clear -- the U.S. economy is still struggling to emerge from the great recession," he said.

Although demand is increasing in some sectors, like automobiles and energy, the building industry is "not robust," he said.

"The way forward to a stronger and more sustainable American economy is straightforward: Our leaders need to focus on real solutions and eliminate the structural imbalances and at the same time create what our economy needs most -- jobs, jobs, and more jobs," said DiMicco.

Asked about the prospects for the steel industry, the Nucor head said: "The short-term and the long-term view will both be impacted by the relative demand-to-supply balance that doesn't exist in the equation, whether it be through excessive imports throwing the balance out, or excessive new capacity coming onstream without any being taken out.

"Demand has got to improve significantly for us to see the kind of performance going forward that will be sustained," DiMicco said.

In its earnings release, Nucor said domestic supply in the sheet market and increases in imports of sheet steel have begun to put significant pressure on prices and margins.

"Unless the supply/demand/pricing dynamics reverse themselves, the sheet market will be the most challenging for the industry in the third quarter.

"Accordingly, we expect third-quarter results to be lower than second quarter, but by how much remains to be seen."

Analyst Michelle Applebaum, of Steel Market Intelligence in Chicago, said the warning was not unexpected. "Steel prices had been up since last October and now they have come down," she said.

Commenting on Nucor's latest results, she said: "They had been going like gangbusters from January and so they had momentum coming into the second quarter."

Nucor's net earnings were $299.8 million, or 94 cents per share, up from $91 million, or 29 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts on average were expecting 81 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based company said sales rose 22 percent to $5.11 billion as its average selling price per ton increased 21 percent from a year earlier and 13 percent from the first quarter.

Nucor shipped 5,598,000 tons in the second quarter, slightly more than in the same quarter last year.

The company's shares were up 2 percent to $40.59 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Steve James; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Gerald E. McCormick)

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