Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Nucor (NYSE:NUE) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report report published on Wednesday. The brokerage currently has $70.00 price objective on the basic materials company’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Estimates for Nucor for the third quarter and full year have been increasing lately. Nucor has outperformed the industry it belongs to over the past year.  Nucor remains committed to expand production capabilities, which is likely to drive profitable growth and strengthen its position as a low-cost producer. It is also seeing continued momentum in the automotive market. The company is focused on expanding its foothold in the automotive space driven by strong demand. Nucor is also focused on expanding business through strategic acquisitions.”

A number of other analysts have also recently commented on NUE. Macquarie raised shares of Nucor from a neutral rating to an outperform rating and set a $75.00 target price for the company in a report on Thursday, May 17th. Jefferies Financial Group reaffirmed a buy rating and set a $80.00 target price on shares of Nucor in a report on Friday, July 13th. KeyCorp raised shares of Nucor from a sector weight rating to an overweight rating and set a $77.00 target price for the company in a report on Tuesday, July 24th. Finally, ValuEngine cut shares of Nucor from a hold rating to a sell rating in a report on Tuesday, September 4th. Five analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and nine have issued a buy rating to the company. Nucor has a consensus rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $71.00.

Shares of NUE stock opened at $62.58 on Wednesday. Nucor has a 12 month low of $53.18 and a 12 month high of $70.48. The company has a market cap of $20.11 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.83, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 0.69 and a beta of 1.54. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.43, a current ratio of 3.05 and a quick ratio of 1.55.

Nucor (NYSE:NUE) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, July 19th. The basic materials company reported $2.07 EPS for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $2.10 by ($0.03). Nucor had a net margin of 7.58% and a return on equity of 16.22%. The business had revenue of $6.46 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $6.47 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the company posted $1.00 earnings per share. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 24.9% on a year-over-year basis. research analysts predict that Nucor will post 7.64 earnings per share for the current year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, November 9th. Stockholders of record on Friday, September 28th will be paid a $0.38 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, September 27th. This represents a $1.52 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.43%. Nucor’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 43.30%.

Nucor announced that its Board of Directors has initiated a share buyback program on Thursday, September 6th that permits the company to repurchase $2.00 billion in shares. This repurchase authorization permits the basic materials company to repurchase up to 10% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares repurchase programs are typically an indication that the company’s board of directors believes its stock is undervalued.

In other news, insider Leon J. Topalian sold 3,115 shares of the stock in a transaction on Thursday, June 21st. The shares were sold at an average price of $64.98, for a total value of $202,412.70. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now directly owns 43,370 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $2,818,182.60. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, CEO John J. Ferriola sold 14,607 shares of the stock in a transaction on Tuesday, July 24th. The stock was sold at an average price of $68.25, for a total transaction of $996,927.75. Following the completion of the sale, the chief executive officer now directly owns 374,542 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $25,562,491.50. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last three months, insiders sold 122,443 shares of company stock valued at $8,277,404. Corporate insiders own 0.70% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the company. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA boosted its position in shares of Nucor by 35.1% during the first quarter. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA now owns 220,184 shares of the basic materials company’s stock worth $13,451,000 after acquiring an additional 57,158 shares during the last quarter. Stevens Capital Management LP boosted its position in shares of Nucor by 3,110.6% during the second quarter. Stevens Capital Management LP now owns 130,961 shares of the basic materials company’s stock worth $8,185,000 after acquiring an additional 126,882 shares during the last quarter. Janney Montgomery Scott LLC boosted its position in shares of Nucor by 1.0% during the second quarter. Janney Montgomery Scott LLC now owns 114,293 shares of the basic materials company’s stock worth $7,143,000 after acquiring an additional 1,185 shares during the last quarter. IMS Capital Management boosted its position in shares of Nucor by 326.0% during the second quarter. IMS Capital Management now owns 13,582 shares of the basic materials company’s stock worth $849,000 after acquiring an additional 10,394 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Ashler Capital LLC bought a new position in shares of Nucor during the second quarter worth $10,515,000. 77.34% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Nucor

Nucor Corporation manufactures and sells steel and steel products in the United States and internationally. It operates in three segments: Steel Mills, Steel Products, and Raw Materials. The Steel Mills segment produces hot-rolled, cold-rolled, and galvanized sheet steel products; hollow structural section steel tubing, steel electrical conduit, plate steel, and structural steel products; bar steel products, such as blooms, billets, concrete reinforcing and merchant bars, wire rods, and special bar quality; and tubular and plate steel products.

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