The Big Upgrade That Is Driving Steel Stocks

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A few key U.S. steel players were trading higher after a top analyst at Macquarie upgraded the steel stocks to kick off the week. Overall, the firm cited improving steel demand, and another boost is the president’s promise to place new restrictions on imports and to prevent the act of dumping by foreign nations.

The president is pursuing a growth path for the economy. This looks good for the oil and gas industry, an area he wants the United States to be self-sufficient in. There is also the potential for a $1 trillion infrastructure build, and the steel sector could be poised to jump.

A recent Jefferies research report makes the case that the 100% growth in rig counts since the May 2016 low and the prospect for future growth are huge for the steel industry. With hot rolled coil and tubular demand expected to continue to grow, the top companies in the industry could see exponential demand.

AK Steel Holding Corp. (NYSE: AKS) was raised to an Outperform rating up from Neutral with an $8 price target at Macquarie. The stock previously closed down 1.5% at $6.72 but has since traded up nearly 5% at $7.04 in Monday’s session. AK Steel has a 52-week trading range of $3.31 to $11.39 and had a consensus analyst price target of $9.61.

As a reminder, AK Steel earnings are coming up on Tuesday before the markets open. The consensus estimates are $0.15 in earnings per share (EPS) and $1.48 billion in revenue in the coming quarter.

Nucor Corp. (NYSE: NUE) was upgraded to a Neutral rating from Underperform at Macquarie, and the price target was raised to $62 from $55. The stock previously closed at $60.00. Shares were last seen up 2.4% at $61.42, with a consensus price target of $68.23 and a 52-week range of $44.81 to $68.00.

Steel Dynamics Inc. (NASDAQ: STLD) was raised to Outperform from Neutral with a $44 price target (versus a $35.37 prior close) at Macquarie. Shares were trading up 4% at $36.83. The stock has a 52-week range of $22.62 to $40.17 and a consensus price target of $42.62.

United States Steel Corp. (NYSE: X) was raised to Neutral from Underperform with a $30 price target (compared with a $30.42 close) at Macquarie. Shares were recently up 3% at $31.41, with a consensus price target of $38.62 and a 52-week range of $12.77 to $41.83.