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Ahead of the Bell: Olympic Steel downgraded

NEW YORK (AP) -- A Jefferies analyst on Tuesday cut his rating for Olympic Steel Inc. to "Hold" from "Buy," saying the company is still dealing with intense competition in an important steel market.

Olympic sells different types of steel, including flat rolled steel, which analyst Luke Folta says is less profitable than some other kinds. Of the steel companies he follows, Olympic is one of the more dependent on the flat rolled market, he said, which could pressure its profitability growth.

He cut his 2012 earnings estimate for Olympic to $1.20 per share from $1.23 per share, and to $2 per share from $2.10 per share for 2013.

Analysts polled by FactSet expect profit of $1.21 per share this year and $1.77 per share next year.

The Bedford Heights, Ohio, company's profit in 2011 was $2.28 per share.

Folta cut his price target on the company's stock by $1 to $21. Shares closed Monday at $20.02, up 28 percent over the past three months.