4 Steel Stocks to Buy as Demand and Tariffs Are Huge

March 9, 2018 by 247lee

Despite some of the scorn and shade thrown at the president when he suggested the potential for steel tariffs, he’s hardly the first president to call for or implement them. Despite the concerns of Chinese dumping, as China is the world’s largest steel producer, the bulk of steel and aluminum imports come from Canada. A whopping 88% of Canada’s production came to the United States in 2016.

Yesterday, the U.S. president implemented steel and aluminum Section 232 tariffs, which excluded Canada and Mexico, and the United States looks to support a hot-rolled coil price above $837 on broad tariffs, versus the spot of $800. That said, the analysts at Jefferies expect domestic capacity growth to be restarted, as well as the mini-mills, and that could dampen some of the price increases.

The firm has numerous top U.S. and European steel stocks rated Buy, but here we focus on four that look the best for growth accounts with some risk tolerance. These stocks got hit late in the trading day on Thursday, when the exclusions of Canada and Mexico were announced, so the points of entry are more enticing.

ArcelorMittal

This is the top pick at Jefferies and makes a solid holding. ArcelorMittal S.A. (NYSE: MT) is the self-described world’s leading steel and mining company, with a presence in 60 countries and an industrial footprint in 19. The company was formed from the merger of Arcelor and Mittal Steel in 2006. It is the leader in all major global markets, including automotive, construction, household appliances and packaging. Its industrial presence in Europe, Asia, Africa and America gives it exposure to all the key steel markets, from emerging to mature.

The company is also one of the world’s five largest producers of iron ore and metallurgical coal and the mining business is an essential part of the corporate growth strategy. With a geographically diversified portfolio of iron ore and coal assets, ArcelorMittal is strategically positioned to serve its network of steel plants and the external global market. While its steel operations are important customers, the company’s supply to the external market is increasing rapidly.

The Jefferies price target for the stock is $42, and the Wall Street consensus target was last seen at $41.55. The stock closed Thursday’s trading at $32.64 per share.

Nucor

This top steel company could do very well if the economy continues to pick up and the administration’s infrastructure push comes back to the forefront. Nucor Corp. (NYSE: NUE) is one of North America’s largest steel producers, with almost 27 million tons of finished steel capacity at 23 mini-mills throughout the United States. The company’s downstream steel products business includes rebar fabrication, steel joists/deck, cold finished bars, fasteners, building systems and wire mesh. Nucor also has 5 million tons of scrap processing capacity.

Nucor has always kept a very conservative balance sheet and is poised for slow but steady growth next year and beyond, especially if a huge infrastructure build-out becomes a reality. Some think that continued demand from the rebuilding of large parts of Houston after Hurricane Harvey and storm damage in Florida could also be a positive.

Nucor investors are paid a very solid 2.24% dividend. Jefferies has a price target for the shares of $76. That compares with the posted consensus price target of $74.54. The stock closed most recently at $67.63 a share.

Steel Dynamics

This is another stock that the Jefferies team remains very positive on. Steel Dynamics Inc. (NASDAQ: STLD) operates six steel mini-mills in Indiana, Virginia, Mississippi and West Virginia. Production capacity has been nearly 10 million tons, of a total 110 million U.S. capacity.

The company makes flat-rolled products, special/merchant bars and structural steel products. Steel Dynamics can process about 7 million tons of ferrous scrap and has a downstream operation that processes finished steel. The Jefferies report noted this:

The company remains one of the analyst top picks in the US steel sector as a high-quality play on the gradually tightening domestic steel market and supported by bullish global trends led by Chinese supply-side reform. In the near-term, Steel Dynamics should benefit from greatly improving margins as steel prices continue to move sharply higher following several rounds of price hikes launched in October.

Shareholders of Steel Dynamics are paid a 1.33% dividend. The $54 Jefferies price target is higher than the consensus target of $52.46. The stock closed at $46 on Thursday.

U.S. Steel

This venerable steel producer remains a favorite across Wall Street. United States Steel Corp. (NYSE: X) produces and sells flat-rolled and tubular steel products in North America and Europe. It operates through three segments. Its Flat-Rolled Products segment offers slabs, rounds, strip mill plates, sheets and tin mill products. This segment serves customers in the automotive, consumer and the combined industrial, service center and mining commercial markets.

The Tubular Products segment offers seamless and electric resistance welded steel casing and tubing, as well as standard and line pipe and mechanical tubing products primarily to customers in the oil, gas and petrochemical markets. The company also provides railroad services and owns, develops and manages various real estate assets.

And its U.S. Steel Europe segment provides slabs, sheets, strip mill plates, tin mill products and spiral welded pipes, as well as heating radiators and refractory ceramic materials. This segment serves customers in the construction, service center, conversion, container, transportation, appliance and electrical, oil, gas and petrochemical markets.

Shareholders are paid just a 0.54% dividend. Jefferies has set its price target at $45. The consensus target is $45.46 per share, and the stock closed most recently at $44.35.

I'm interested in the Newsletter
 

The weak dollar was very helpful to the steel industry for much of 2017, and it is expected to continue providing a lift this year. While the dollar won’t stay weak forever, you can bet that the administration would like to see it stay weak for the time being. With pricing firm, and export potential and demand at home still strong, all these stocks make sense for growth investors.