CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Nucor Corporation (NYSE: NUE) announced today guidance for its first quarter ending March 30, 2013. Nucor expects first quarter results to be in the range of $0.20 to $0.25 per diluted share. This performance is consistent with the qualitative guidance presented in our fourth quarter of 2012 earnings release and conference call which stated, "We currently expect to see first quarter 2013 earnings below our results in the fourth quarter of 2012." This range represents a decrease from the first quarter of 2012 earnings of $0.46 per diluted share and fourth quarter of 2012 earnings of $0.43 per diluted share. Projected first quarter results include an estimated LIFO charge of $16.0 million ( $0.03 per diluted share) compared to a credit of $71.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 ( $0.14 per diluted share) and a charge of $14.5 million in the first quarter of 2012 ( $0.03 per diluted share). Also affecting earnings in the first quarter of 2012 was a non-cash gain of $12.6 million ( $0.04 per diluted share) related to the recognition of state tax credits and the adjustment of tax expense to previously filed returns.
As we expected, our operating performance in the steel mills segment is flat compared to the fourth quarter of 2012. This reflects weakening performance in sheet steel offset by improved profitability for structural steel. Overall, our steel mills have not experienced the seasonal improvement that is typical in the first quarter of the year. Our downstream steel products segment experienced a typical seasonal slowdown in the first quarter, and we therefore expect to report a modest loss for that segment following three straight quarters of profitable operating performance. Our raw materials segment is also expected to report weaker results due to an unplanned 18 day outage at our Trinidad Direct Reduced Iron facility and weather-related effects negatively impacting the flow of scrap in our scrap processing business. We continue to be cautiously optimistic about non-residential construction markets in 2013 as they continue to improve slowly from historically low levels. The strongest end markets continue to be in manufactured goods including energy and automotive. Import levels and general economic and political uncertainty continue to negatively affect our business.