AK Steel Spikes on Buyout Rumor

AK Steel shares rise sharply Thursday, making it the latest metals fabricator around which takeover rumors have swirled in the last week.
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(AK Steel takeover rumors article updated for company and analyst's comments and for closing stock prices.)

NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- Shares of

AK Steel

(AKS) - Get Report

popped Thursday in frantic trading as takeover rumors appeared to give traders a reason to bid up the name.

An item on

Briefing.com

pointed to Brazilian steel producer

Companhia Siderurgica Nacional

(SID) - Get Report

, or CSN, as the alleged pursuer.

A representative of West Chester, Ohio's AK Steel cited the standard corporate policy of not commenting on "market speculation."

AK's shares closed Thursday at $24.37, up $1.56, or 6.8% after earlier moving as high as $24.60. Turnover surpassed 26 million shares, more than triple the daily average.

Some industry observers were skeptical that AK, a manufacturer of flat-rolled steel products, could truly be in play. One veteran analyst noted the deep uncertainty surrounding U.S. automobile sales, AK's core customer base. If no one really knows how many cars will be sold this year, the analyst asked rhetorically, how could any potential buyer reasonably value AK enough to make a formal offer?

The company was also the subject of takeover speculation back in 2007, when rumors fingered the Japanese industrial conglomerate

Mitsui

-- which had just acquired the U.S.'s Steel Technologies -- as the potential buyer. Nothing, of course, came of it.

Mitsui has been active in the U.S. of late, however. On Tuesday,

Nucor

(NUE) - Get Report

announced the formation of a joint venture with Mitsui & Co., the conglomerate's steelmaking group -- a move that may also have sparked Thursday's heated action in AK Steel shares.

The Nucor venture, which will take over the assets of Mitsui's Steel Technologies unit, has plans to "invest in various steel and steel related activities," Nucor said.

The company joins another metal-products fabricator in the buyout rumor mill. On Feb.22,

Commercial Metals

(CMC) - Get Report

shares

spiked by as much as 14% on takeover speculation

. This week, however, the stock has fallen back -- trading recently at $16 -- after the maker of steel products used in construction said it would be getting out of the joist and deck business. Commecial Metals said it would either sell assets or simply close down the segment.

AK Steel, meanwhile, said on Tuesday that it would hike prices on carbon steel orders by $40 per short ton, effective immediately --

its second price increase on one of its product lines in as many weeks

.

Then, on Wednesday, AK Steel said it would add a surcharge of $330 a ton to all electrical steel shipments in April, a bid to deal with rising raw materials costs.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

RELATED STORIES:

>>Commercial Metals Up on Takeout Rumor

>>AK Steel Ups Price, Market Ups Shares

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Scott Eden has covered business -- both large and small -- for more than a decade. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, he worked as a features reporter for Dealmaker and Trader Monthly magazines. Before that, he wrote for the Chicago Reader, that city's weekly paper. Early in his career, he was a staff reporter at the Dow Jones News Service. His reporting has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and the Believer magazine, among other publications. He's also the author of Touchdown Jesus (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a nonfiction book about Notre Dame football fans and the business and politics of big-time college sports. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis.