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Nucor (NUE - Get Report) fits the mold for a consistently high dividend payer: it's big, it's boring, and it's flush with cash. The firm operates steel mills, producing steel as well as construction products like joists, wire and girders. In keeping with its metal-centric business, Nucor is also the country's largest scrap broker and processor, business that's become particularly attractive as spot prices for hard commodities continue to creep higher.
Nucor owns some of the most modern and efficient steel mills in the country, opting to operate many smaller mills instead of several larger mills. That structure has proven that bigger isn't always better as a steel producer. Nucor can shift its overhead costs to match market conditions, resulting in bigger margins than many traditionally-focused rivals.
An incredibly long track record of profitability is part of the reason why Nucor's balance sheet looks so attractive right now. That best-in-breed financial position makes Nucor head and shoulders above its nearest peers if the industry sees another unexpected headwind.
Presently, Nucor pays out a 36.5-cent dividend, for a hefty 3.6% yield. Revenues have been climbing steadily since the recession, and are now within reach of pre-crash highs - that's an impressive feat given the fact that steel demand is still quite a bit off from where it was during the construction boom.
All that cash coming in means that Nucor should be able to pay investors an even higher shrare of the profits in 2012.