NEW YORK (
have declined precipitously since the market's April peak, as investors have been
, from macroeconomic to sector-specific.
China's record steel production and increasing surpluses have stoked fears that manufacturers in the People's Republic will
Molten steel being poured from a ladle at a U.S. Steel Corp. facility
Steelmakers in the U.S., heartened earlier in the year by signs of recovery, flipped the switch on idled furnaces perhaps a little too soon, which in turn has led to probable overcapacity here.
And raw materials costs,
instigated overseas by upheaval in the way iron ore is priced
, have grown ever more volatile, pressuring profit margins.
Meanwhile, end-user demand and the steel inventories held by this diverse crowd (from carmakers to steel service centers to appliance makers to oil drillers) will ultimately tell the tale of where steel stocks as a whole are headed.
But blast-furnace operators like
do face different challenges than their mini-mill siblings, such as
, who use scrap metal as their primary feedstock.
Further, integrated companies that control their own iron ore sources -- U.S. Steel being the prime example -- have avoided the profit-margin compression borne of rocketing raw materials costs, a development that has
And so we put the question to readers of
: Which of the following steel stocks will outperform the rest over the final six months of 2010? Take our poll below to see what
has to say.
-- Written by Scott Eden in New York
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.