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Nucor sees earnings plummet

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nucor yesterday said its fourth-quarter earnings tumbled 44 percent, as the steelmaker dealt with soft demand for construction products and steel for automobiles.

Earnings for the three-month period ended Dec. 31 fell to $58.9 million, or 18 cents per share. The company earned $105.9 million, or 34 cents per share, during the same period last year.

Revenue tumbled 29 percent to $2.94 billion, from $4.15 billion in the prior-year period.

The results topped analysts’ forecasts for profit of 7 cents a share on revenue of $1.58 billion.

Nucor’s quarterly profit was the only one of 2009. It posted losses in the first three quarters as demand dried up for steel, which is used in construction, automobiles and many consumer products.

The company says it expects its most challenging markets will continue to be in residential and non-residential construction, which still show little if any strength. Nucor makes a variety of steel construction products; including bars, beams, steel joists and girders, concrete reinforcing steel and wire.

For the full year, the company posted a loss of $293.6 million, or 94 cents per share, compared with earnings of $1.83 billion, or $5.98 per share, in 2008. Revenue shed 53 percent to $11.19 billion, down from $23.66 billion in the prior year.

Shares of Nucor fell 48 cents to $43.65 in morning trading.

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