CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Nucor Corporation (NYSE: NUE) announced today guidance for its first quarter ending March 31, 2012. Nucor expects first quarter results to be in the range of $0.30 to $0.35 per diluted share. This performance is consistent with the qualitative guidance presented in our fourth quarter of 2011 earnings release and conference call which stated, "We therefore expect earnings in the first quarter of 2012 to be improved from fourth quarter 2011 levels, after adjusting for one-time benefits received in the fourth quarter." This range represents a decrease from the first quarter of 2011 earnings of $0.50 per diluted share and fourth quarter of 2011 earnings of $0.43 per diluted share. Projected first quarter results include an estimated LIFO charge of $14 million ( $0.03 per diluted share) compared to charges of $52 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 ( $0.11 per diluted share) and $31 million in the first quarter of 2011 ( $0.06 per diluted share).
Although our projected results for the first quarter of 2012 are consistent with our qualitative guidance, they are at the low end of our expectations. This performance reflects a flattening in the favorable pricing and margin trends for all steel mill products that began mid-quarter and unexpected margin weakness in our raw materials business. The deterioration in steel mill pricing and margin trends as compared to our expectations is due to resurgence in imports and increased competition from new domestic sheet mill supply. In addition to increased competitive pricing pressure, a seasonally atypical reduction in raw material costs, for both scrap and iron ore, contributed to buyer uncertainty and negatively impacted steel mill consumer buying patterns. Despite the negative impact of excess supply, market demand continues to improve in most end markets including the construction products markets, and we believe that we have reached a positive turning point in margins. The strongest end markets continue to be in manufactured goods including heavy equipment, energy and automotive.
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