Nucor working to improve St. James plant’s yield

Nucor Corp. on Friday reported an expected operating loss at its new direct reduced iron plant in St. James Parish, with expectations that adjustments at the facility will lead to a profitable performance by the end of the year.

The update on the plant was part of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company’s guidance for its second quarter, which ends July 5. Nucor is projecting earnings in the range of 35 cents to 40 cents per diluted share, up from 27 cents in the second quarter of 2013 and comparable to first-quarter 2014 earnings of 35 cents per diluted share.

Nucor said performance of its raw materials segment includes an anticipated operating loss of $30 million, or 6 per diluted share, at the plant. The Louisiana plant continues to exceed Nucor’s volume expectations while producing excellent quality product, but the yield losses remain high. It said a three-week outage began this month to make adjustments that will improve “yield and conversion costs.”

Nucor said it expects significant improvements in the performance at the facility in the third quarter, with profitable performance anticipated by the end of the year.