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Nucor Expects First Quarter Loss

Steel manufacturer revised first-quarter forecast and expects a loss rather than a profit, saying demand has eroded more than expected and overall product pricing dropped.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Steel manufacturer Nucor Corp. on Tuesday revised its first-quarter forecast and now expects a loss rather than a profit, saying demand from its customers has eroded more than expected and overall product pricing dropped.

Its shares tumbled more than 10 percent in morning trading.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based manufacturer said it expects to report a first-quarter loss in the range of 55 cents to 65 cents a share.

Nucor previously said the results would be marginally better than the fourth quarter when it reported earnings of 34 cents a share but it did not issue numerical first-quarter guidance.

Nucor reported earnings of $1.41 a share in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters on average have forecast earnings of 43 cents per share for the quarter ending April 4.

Shares of Nucor fell $4.03, or 10.6 percent, to $32.92 in morning trading Tuesday.

Dan DiMicco, chairman, chief executive and president, said customer demand continued to weaken which caused a drop in production and steel pricing.

"The unprecedented speed and magnitude of the global economy's decline to depressed levels not seen in our lifetime have presented severe challenges in 2009," DiMicco said in a statement.

The steel mill utilization rate is expected to fall to 43 percent in the first quarter, down from 48 percent rate in the fourth quarter, he said.

Because of the drop in production, Nucor still has inventories of pig iron purchased before the economy deteriorated last year. Unless production starts to climb, that will affect second- and third-quarter results, the company said.

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