CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 15, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Nucor Corporation (NUE) today announced guidance for its first quarter ending March 30, 2019. Nucor expects first quarter earnings to be in the range of $1.45 to $1.50 per diluted share. This range is a decrease compared to fourth quarter of 2018 earnings of $2.07 per diluted share and an increase relative to first quarter of 2018 earnings of $1.10 per diluted share.
Included in the first quarter of 2018 results was an expense of $21.8 million, or $0.07 per diluted share, related to the write off of deferred tax assets due to the change in the tax status of a subsidiary.
Sheet pricing is rebounding as recent price increases are taking hold
We expect earnings of the steel mills segment in the first quarter of 2019 to decrease from the fourth quarter of 2018 due primarily to lower average selling prices and margins in our sheet mill group. We believe that sheet pricing reached the low point during the first quarter and are encouraged by the impact of recent price increases. Additionally, we are experiencing shipment delays to construction customers of our steel mills and steel products segments due to an unusually wet winter season.
The performance of the raw materials segment is expected to decrease in the first quarter of 2019 as compared to the fourth quarter of 2018 due to margin compression in our DRI businesses, which have experienced declining average selling prices since the fourth quarter of 2018.
The profitability of our steel products segment in the first quarter of 2019 is expected to be similar to the fourth quarter of 2018.
Nucor and its affiliates are manufacturers of steel and steel products, with operating facilities in the U.S. and Canada. 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 "believe," "expect," "project," "will," "should," "could" and similar expressions are intended to identify those forward-looking statements. 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 competition 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 scrap steel; (4) market demand for steel products; and (5) energy costs and availability. These and other factors are discussed in Nucor's regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including those in Nucor's 2018 Annual Report on Form 10-K, Item 1A. Risk Factors. 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.