(Reuters) - Nucor Corp (NUE.N) reported a decline in first quarter earnings on Thursday, in line with its March forecast, when the U.S. steelmaker said its mills had not seen the seasonal improvement they usually do early in the year.
Nucor said its average sales price was 7 percent lower than a year earlier, and 2 percent below the fourth quarter of 2012.
The company said it expects “some improvement” in earnings in the current quarter, thanks in part to better performance in its fabricated construction products segment, which makes rebar and similar products.
Several U.S. steel producers announced price increases to their customers during the first quarter, but that had little impact on market prices. Hot-rolled coil prices, as estimated by The Steel Index, which collects data on the market, have fallen more than 5 percent year to date, to $609.00 per tonne.
The average cost of scrap, a key ingredient in Nucor’s steel, fell 15 percent from a year earlier, but it was up 2 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012.
Net earnings for the first quarter dropped to $84.8 million, or 26 cents a share, from $145.1 million, or 46 cents a share, a year earlier. Net sales dropped 10 percent to $4.55 billion.
Nucor had forecast earnings between 20 and 25 cents a share, and analysts, on average, had expected earnings of 24 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Nucor’s shares fell 1.2 percent to $42.00 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Nick Zieminski