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Nucor Corporation (NUE - Analyst Report) recently announced its decision to hike quarterly dividend to $0.365 per share from $0.3625 per share. The increased dividend will be paid on February 10, 2012, to stockholders of record as of December 30, 2011. This represents the 39th consecutive increase in dividend paid by Nucor.

In November 11, 2011, the board of directors paid a cash dividend of $0.3625 per share to stockholders of record as of September 30, 2011.

Nucor is the largest producer of structural steel, steel bars, steel joists, steel deck and cold finished bars in the U.S. The company has 58 operating facilities, primarily in the U.S. and Canada. Over the years, the company has grown through acquisitions as well as by tapping new markets and expanding geographically. Through its network of “mini-mills”, the company produces steel sheets, bars, plates as well as various structural and other products.

Nearly 55% of Nucor’s steel sheet volumes are under long-term price contracts, which should help it to navigate the slow economic recovery while maintaining near-term profitability. Nucor is striving to find innovative and cost-efficient ways to produce steel. The company’s Castrip technology will structurally lower its cost of production, leading to meaningful long-term savings.

Although the company expects to see only slight improvement in demand in its non-residential construction markets through the end of 2011, it remains optimistic about its combined construction businesses (steel mills and downstream facilities) and anticipates it to continue to operate profitably.  Nucor expects fourth-quarter earnings to be below its third-quarter level. Nucor expects margin compression in the sheet market in the fourth quarter of 2011. Furthermore, the company forecasts a smaller compression in plate margins due to imports. The magnitude of margin compression will be favorably impacted by expected lower scrap costs through the quarter.

Nucor Corp. faces stiff competition from Commercial Metals Co. (CMC - Snapshot Report) and United States Steel Corp. (X - Analyst Report). We currently provide a long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock. The company has a Zacks #3 Rank (Hold).

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