Nucor Corporation anticipates decrease in first quarter earnings in range of $1.45 to $1.50 per diluted share compared to 2018 fourth quarter earnings of $2.07 per diluted share. The numbers marks an increase relative to first quarter 2018 earnings of $1.10 per diluted share.

According to the steelmaker, there was an unplanned expense in the first quarter of 2018 results 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," the company says in a statement. "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."

However, profitability of the company's steel products segment in the first quarter is expected to be similar to the fourth quarter of 2018. 

"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."