Nucor Reports Results for Fourth Quarter and Year Ended 2020
January 28, 2021 at 08:00 AM EST
CHARLOTTE, N.C., Jan. 28, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Nucor Corporation (NYSE: NUE) today announced consolidated net earnings of $398.8 million, or $1.30 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2020. By comparison, Nucor reported consolidated net earnings of $193.4 million, or $0.63 per diluted share, for the third quarter of 2020 and $107.8 million, or $0.35 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2019. Included in the fourth quarter of 2020 results were the following non-operational items (in millions):
With the exception of the state tax credits, the non-operational items presented in the above table were not quantifiable at the time of our guidance that was released on December 17, 2020. Refer to the "Review of Non-Operational Items" section for more information related to these items.
For the full year 2020, Nucor reported consolidated net earnings of $721.5 million, or $2.36 per diluted share, compared with consolidated net earnings of $1.27 billion, or $4.14 per diluted share, in 2019.
"Over the last 12 months, the Nucor team has demonstrated incredible resilience as we navigated macroeconomic headwinds and the challenging operating environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic," said Leon Topalian, Nucor's President and Chief Executive Officer. "At the onset of the pandemic, we capitalized on the flexibility of our business model and strong demand for our products to gain market share across nearly our entire portfolio. Even as we worked hard to drive growth and value creation, the safety of our teammates and our commitment to customer relationships remained our top priorities. I am proud to report that 2020 was the safest year in Nucor's history."
Mr. Topalian continued, "We are extremely grateful to our more than 26,000 teammates whose hard work and dedication enabled us to achieve strong financial and operational results throughout the year. Looking ahead, we are confident that Nucor is poised for continued growth, and we anticipate earnings in the first quarter of 2021 to significantly increase from the fourth quarter of 2020. All of us at Nucor remain committed to delivering strong results for our stockholders and strengthening our position as the most profitable steel and steel products company in the world."
Review of Non-Operational Items
Duferdofin Nucor Related Items
In the fourth quarter of 2020 Nucor finalized an agreement (the "Duferdofin Agreement") to transfer its 50% economic and voting interest in Duferdofin Nucor to the owner of the remaining 50% interest. Losses on assets related to the Duferdofin Agreement were $184.0 million, or $0.61 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2020.
We were able to claim certain tax deductions related to our investment in Duferdofin Nucor that resulted in a benefit to the provision for income taxes of $201.9 million, or $0.66 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Other Fourth Quarter of 2020 Non-Operational Items
Also, included in the fourth quarter of 2020 earnings are non-cash impairment charges of $130.2 million, or $0.33 per diluted share. Of that amount, $103.2 million, or $0.26 per diluted share, relates to impairment of certain inventory and long-lived assets in the steel mills segment. Also included in that amount is a $27.0 million, or $0.07 per diluted share, impairment charge that relates to a write-down of our unproved natural gas well assets that is included in the raw materials segment.
Tax related items included in the fourth quarter of 2020 earnings were a net benefit totaling $39.7 million, or $0.13 per diluted share, related to state tax credits and a net benefit of $48.2 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, for the anticipated carryback of a 2020 tax net operating loss under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the "CARES Act").
Comparative Period Non-Operational Items
Included in earnings for the third quarter of 2020 was a restructuring charge of $16.4 million, or $0.04 per diluted share, related to the realignment of Nucor's metal buildings business. Included in the fourth quarter of 2019 earnings were non-cash impairment charges of $66.9 million, or $0.17 per diluted share.
At the end of the fourth quarter of 2020, Nucor had $3.16 billion in cash and cash equivalents, short-term investments and restricted cash and cash equivalents on hand. The Company's $1.50 billion revolving credit facility remains undrawn and does not expire until April 2023. Nucor continues to have the strongest credit rating in the North American steel sector (Baa1/A-) with stable outlooks at both Moody's and Standard & Poor's.
Selected Segment Data
Earnings (loss) before income taxes and noncontrolling interests by segment for the fourth quarter and full year 2020 and 2019 were as follows (in thousands):
Nucor's consolidated net sales increased 7% to $5.26 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared with $4.93 billion in the third quarter of 2020 and increased 3% compared with $5.13 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019. Average sales price per ton in the fourth quarter of 2020 increased 5% compared with the third quarter of 2020 and increased 3% compared with the fourth quarter of 2019. A total of 6,486,000 tons was shipped to outside customers in the fourth quarter of 2020, a 2% increase from the third quarter of 2020 and flat compared to the fourth quarter of 2019. Total steel mill shipments in the fourth quarter of 2020 increased 3% as compared to the third quarter of 2020 and were similar to shipments in the fourth quarter of 2019. Steel mill shipments to internal customers represented 19% of total steel mill shipments in the fourth quarter of 2020, a decrease compared to 21% in both the third quarter of 2020 and the fourth quarter of 2019. Downstream steel product shipments to outside customers in the fourth quarter of 2020 decreased 9% from the third quarter of 2020 and decreased 6% compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.
For 2020, Nucor's consolidated net sales of $20.14 billion decreased 11% compared with consolidated net sales of $22.59 billion reported in 2019. Total tons shipped to outside customers in 2020 were 25,519,000, a decrease of 4% from 2019, while the average sales price per ton in 2020 decreased 7% from 2019.
The average scrap and scrap substitute cost per gross ton used in the fourth quarter of 2020 was $305, a 10% increase compared to $277 in the third quarter of 2020 and an 11% increase compared to $275 in the fourth quarter of 2019. The average scrap and scrap substitute cost per gross ton used for the full year 2020 was $290, an 8% decrease compared to $314 for the full year 2019.
Pre-operating and start-up costs related to the Company's growth projects were approximately $28 million, or $0.07 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2020, compared with approximately $22 million, or $0.06 per diluted share, in the third quarter of 2020 and approximately $35 million, or $0.09 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2019.
For 2020, pre-operating and start-up costs related to the Company's growth projects were approximately $101 million, or $0.25 per diluted share, compared with approximately $103 million, or $0.26 per diluted share, for 2019.
Overall operating rates at the Company's steel mills increased to 87% in the fourth quarter of 2020 as compared to 83% in both the third quarter of 2020 and the fourth quarter of 2019. Operating rates for the full year 2020 decreased to 82% as compared to 84% for the full year 2019.
Fourth Quarter of 2020 Analysis
Earnings in the fourth quarter of 2020 improved compared to the third quarter of 2020 primarily due to higher pricing at our sheet and plate mills. Reflecting our product diversity, our steel mills segment also continued to benefit from strong results at our bar and structural mills. The fourth quarter of 2020 was another strong quarter for the steel products segment due to the continued resiliency of nonresidential construction markets. The profitability of the raw materials segment increased in the fourth quarter of 2020 as compared to the third quarter of 2020 due to the improved financial performance of our direct reduced iron facilities that are benefitting from higher average selling prices for raw materials.
First Quarter of 2021 Outlook
As we enter 2021 we are encouraged by several positive factors impacting our markets. Nonresidential construction and automotive markets are strong, and we see generally improving conditions in heavy equipment, agriculture, renewable energy and on-highway truck and trailer. We expect earnings in the first quarter of 2021 to significantly increase from the fourth quarter of 2020. The expected performance of the steel mills segment in the first quarter of 2021 is the primary driver for this increase as our sheet, plate, bar and structural mills are forecasting increased profitability in the first quarter of 2021 as compared to the fourth quarter of 2020. The profitability of our downstream steel products segment is expected to decrease in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the fourth quarter of 2020 due to typical seasonal patterns and some margin compression related to the delay between rising steel input costs and increases in selling prices. The raw materials segment's performance in the first quarter of 2021 is expected to be significantly improved compared to the fourth quarter of 2020 due to higher raw materials selling prices.
On December 3, 2020, Nucor's board of directors declared a cash dividend of $0.405 per share. This cash dividend is payable on February 11, 2021 to stockholders of record as of December 31, 2020 and is Nucor's 191st consecutive quarterly cash dividend. Nucor has increased its regular, or base, dividend for 48 consecutive years – every year since it first began paying dividends in 1973. Over the past 10 years, Nucor has returned approximately $6 billion in capital to its stockholders in the form of dividends and share repurchases.
Earnings Conference Call
You are invited to listen to the live broadcast of Nucor's conference call in which management will discuss Nucor's fourth quarter results on January 28, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The conference call will be available over the Internet at www.nucor.com, under the Investors tab.
Nucor and its affiliates are manufacturers of steel and steel products, with operating facilities in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Products produced include: carbon and alloy steel -- in bars, beams, sheet and plate; hollow structural section tubing; electrical conduit; steel piling; steel joists and joist girders; steel deck; fabricated concrete reinforcing steel; cold finished steel; precision castings; steel fasteners; metal building systems; steel grating; and wire and wire mesh. Nucor, through The David J. Joseph Company, also brokers ferrous and nonferrous metals, pig iron and hot briquetted iron / direct reduced iron; supplies ferro-alloys; and processes ferrous and nonferrous scrap. Nucor is North America's largest recycler.
Certain statements contained in this news release are "forward-looking statements" that involve risks and uncertainties. The words "anticipate," "believe," "expect," "project," "may," "will," "should," "could" and similar expressions are intended to identify those forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements reflect the Company's best judgment based on current information, and, although we base these statements on circumstances that we believe to be reasonable when made, there can be no assurance that future events will not affect the accuracy of such forward-looking information. As such, the forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, and actual results may vary materially from the projected results and expectations discussed in this news release. Factors that might cause the Company's actual results to differ materially from those anticipated in forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to: (1) competitive pressure on sales and pricing, including pressure from imports and substitute materials; (2) U.S. and foreign trade policies affecting steel imports or exports; (3) the sensitivity of the results of our operations to prevailing steel prices and changes in the supply and cost of raw materials, including pig iron, iron ore and scrap steel; (4) market demand for steel products, which, in the case of many of our products, is driven by the level of nonresidential construction activity in the United States, as well as prevailing domestic prices for oil and gas; (5) energy costs and availability; and (6) the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. These and other factors are discussed in Nucor's regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including those in "Item 1A. Risk Factors" of Nucor's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019 and in "Item 1A. Risk Factors" of Nucor's Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended October 3, 2020. The forward-looking statements contained in this news release speak only as of this date, and Nucor does not assume any obligation to update them, except as may be required by applicable law.
SOURCE Nucor Corporation