Shares of Nucor ( NUE) rose 5% Thursday after the steelmaker's fourth-quarter results handily beat estimates.

The company earned $408.2 million, or $1.35 a share, on revenue of $3.47 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected earnings of $1.13 a share on revenue of $3.34 billion.

A year earlier, Nucor earned $341 million, or $1.09 a share, on revenue of $3.21 billion.

Average sales price per ton increased 8% from a year earlier but fell 3% from the third quarter. Total tons shipped to outside customers remained flat from a year earlier at 5.1 million tons.

Nucor said it expects "solid" earnings in the first quarter amid healthy demand and margins.

"We continue to expect good demand for our products in 2007, as evidenced by recently announced price increases for many of our products," the company said. "In addition, excess inventory levels at service centers and OEM's should continue to decline."

Shares were trading up $3 to $62.20.

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