Steel's Still Got It

MarketsMotley Fool

Last March, President Trump levied a 25% tariff on imported steel into the U.S., with hopes of propelling the struggling national industry to steely greatness. Has it worked?

In this week's episode of Industry Focus: Energy, host Nick Sciple and Motley Fool analyst Jason Hall find out. Learn how the industry has changed in the past year, who's really feeling the benefits of these tariffs, what steel investors should watch for in the future, and more. Then the guys dive into a steel company that's good for the highs and lows of the cycle. Find out what sets Nucor (NYSE: NUE) apart, and why you should add this one to your watch list.

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A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on March 28, 2019.

Nick Sciple: Today's Thursday, March 28, and we're discussing the steel industry. I'm your host, Nick Sciple, and today I'm joined by Motley Fool contributor Jason Hall via Skype. How are you doing, Jason?

Jason Hall: Go Braves! I'm just going to start with that.

Sciple: Hey, it's opening day! Baseball is in the air. Spring is coming. Shorts weather is around the corner. It's exciting! Masters weekend is going to be here before we know it. Really excited to see the start of baseball season. What do you think about the Braves' chances this season, Jason?

Hall: I have to say, I'm going to give a shout out to my good friend and former Fool colleague John-Erik Koslosky, who's a big Phillies fan. The Braves are starting off the season in Philadelphia. We might have a wager over some adult beverages over the outcome of this first series. Honestly, I don't feel super confident. The Braves are starting a guy that nobody expected would even be with the team as their opening day starter. Then they've got two rookies starting over the weekend. So, eh.

We'll just leave it at that. Let's talk about steel. I'm a little more comfortable talking about steel to start the baseball season off.

Sciple: [laughs] Yeah. Long season, 162 games. With the first series, we'll see how it plays out. Definitely exciting.

Jason, you mentioned we're going to be talking about steel today. Looking back at the last year at steel tariffs, talking about one of our favorite investments that happens to be in the steel industry.

First, Jason, we just can't seem to get away from airline news. Last time you were on the show, Boeing had just been forced to ground its 737 Max plane worldwide. Today, we have another set of planes being grounded that has caused a lot of stress to travelers worldwide. Can you tell us about this latest piece of news and what it means?

Hall: I was having my morning coffee and just perusing the headlines and saw that WOW air -- a small, privately held airline based out of Iceland, it's a really unique low-cost budget operator, they fly transatlantic flights and they go through Iceland to Europe and back into the U.S., that sort of thing. I actually flew on WOW air a few years ago. They just ceased operations. When I say, "ceased operations," I don't mean they said, "Hey, we're going to stop flying in a week. If you bought a ticket after that, we're going to give you your money back." No. People are at the airport, and there's not a plane for them to get on. Over a thousand passengers stranded, and people just stuck. It's ugly. It's really ugly!

Sciple: Yeah, crazy news. From just reading a little bit in the articles, it looks like the company had been trying to negotiate with bondholders to maintain some liquidity. Didn't work out. They had to ground all their planes. The CEO came out, saying, "We wish we could have gotten this handled. Maybe we waited too long." It sounds like the company may be done for after today. Really feel bad for these passengers. It's been a rough month for the airline industry all around. Something to be mindful of and something to keep watching going forward.

Jason, for our main story today, we're going to talk about the steel industry. Off the top of the show, the first half of the show, I want to do a look back over the past year, what's gone on in steel.

March 8, 2018, just a little bit over a year ago, President Trump levied a 25% tariff on imported steel into the U.S. The goal of that tariff was to bolster the domestic steel industry that had lost 35% of its size over the past 20 years or so. It raised a lot of controversy. Trump's National Economic Council chairman resigned. We had lots of retaliatory actions from other countries.

Jason, as we look back on these tariffs a year later, what if anything can we say about their effectiveness and whether they've accomplished what President Trump set out to do when he put them in place?

Hall: I think the first thing to understand is the context, from the perspective of the steel industry, what they were looking for, versus how it was sold to the American public. In general, there was this idea that it would be good for steelmakers because they would hire a bunch of people. Steelmakers pay pretty good wages, so it would create a bunch of jobs. The reality is, it has been very good for the steel industry, for steelmakers. Here's a sampling of some of the biggest steelmakers: Nucor, Steel Dynamics, AK Steel, U.S. Steel. Pretty much across the board, they've all seen their gross margins increase sharply over the past year. They've generally seen free cash flows improved. They've seen cash from operations get better. So it certainly made the steel industry much healthier from a financial perspective.

What it really hasn't done is create a lot of jobs. That's twofold. First of all, a lot of the more modern steel industry is a little more automated, doesn't require as much manual labor. For these steelmakers, they've been able to increase production without necessarily having to add a tremendous amount of workers.

Sciple: It's really been good for the steel industry in the U.S., as you mentioned. The U.S. saw its highest capacity utilization rate of its steel factories since 2008, about 78%. But what we have seen, Jason -- you mentioned this before the show -- there was a disconnect between what folks might have thought would have happened and what the steel companies were maybe looking for. We actually saw the trade deficit in steel balloon last year by over $1 billion. We had fewer inputs coming into the country, but the exports that our producers lost, on a dollar basis, lost out. However, it was a huge decline in imports from overseas, which is really what the tariffs were designed to do. Jason, can you talk about that disconnect between what the steelmakers were looking for versus what we got from a trade deficit point of view, and what that means?

Hall: Absolutely! I think it's important to understand the premise of the tariffs. We actually have to go back to under the Obama administration. The steel industry has been screaming for years and years that a tremendous amount of steel that was being imported into the United States was being illegally subsidized by countries like China, India, Turkey, a few others. They were creating an artificial price that made it very difficult for a lot of Americans steelmakers to compete against. And it's a violation of international trade law that they were doing this. What the steel industry was simply looking to do was to drive this anti-competitive steel out of the U.S. market and cause prices to increase.

If you look at what's happened, that's exactly what's happened. So on a dollar basis, yeah, the trade deficit maybe hasn't improved. But the U.S. steel industry wasn't looking to increase the amount of steel it was sending out of the United States. It simply wanted to keep a large amount of imported steel out of the U.S. so that it could take back that market share that it was losing. To a large extent, a lot of it was illegally subsidized.

Now, obviously, the Trump administration passed much broader tariffs than anyone expected. A lot of those tariffs aren't necessarily against steel that a lot of people think is really, truly being subsidized and is really anti-competitive.

So, on a dollar basis, yeah, the trade deficit didn't really improve. But if you look on a volume basis, because steel prices have increased so much over the past year, there's a lot more domestic steel that's being consumed vs. imported steel that's being consumed. That's where the big win for the U.S. steelmakers is. If you look at the capacity utilization, steelmakers used over 78% of their steelmaking capacity last year. That's the highest it's been in a decade, since basically right at the peak before the global financial crisis and Great Recession happened a decade ago.

Sciple: Sure. So, basically, the takeaway there is, depending on how you want to look at it, the tariffs have really accomplished their goal of getting foreign steel off the market, allowing some breathing space for some U.S. steel producers. We'll talk on the second half of the show how that has led to some investments from U.S. steel producers related to that, from Nucor specifically.

In the past year or so, we've gotten all this supply off the market. As we start looking forward to maybe these tariffs rolling off or those sorts of things, can we take any signals from the past year as to where the industry is going to go forward? Or do we just have to look at this past year as an outlier because of the effects that tariffs had on the market and those sorts of things?

Hall: I think you have to be really careful with any of these short-term, near-term predictions. The reality with the steel industry is that it can be viciously cyclical. These steelmakers tend to have very high fixed operating costs, their floor. They have to produce at least that amount of steel simply to cover their basic expenses. They can be very profitable above that, but if they slip a little bit below that, they can very quickly go from turning a modest or a really nice profit to losses, within a quarter or two, and you don't see it coming.

With that caveat, I think if you look at what you're hearing from U.S. Steel, that's talking about revitalizing and reactivating a lot of blast furnaces in different facilities that it's idled over the past decade, you look at Nucor and all these greenfield investments they're making in building new steel mills in Kentucky and in Florida. The industry is saying, "We're in growth mode because we have an opportunity now to build out these assets to meet higher demand for steel that we're going to make in the United States." That's a healthy signal, at least in terms of the long term, that these steelmakers say, "We can make money in this environment if it persists."

Sciple: Sure. We have the tariffs things that overhang. Those could roll off and change the market. There's another wild card out there that we've seen talked about for a couple of years that's maybe gaining a little bit of traction. That's an infrastructure bill coming out of Congress. We had Vice President Pence recently say to U.S. governors that we're going to get that bill passed in the next year. If that were to take place -- Trump campaigned on a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package. That would obviously be bullish for steel. Again, as you mentioned, Jason, really tough to track these cycles. There is currently a global oversupply of around 600 million tons, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That oversupply makes it really difficult to ride the cycle. We'll talk about this on the back half of the show. Because of that, what really differentiates these steelmakers is their ability in capital allocation, being able to maintain their operations throughout the cycle and make prudent investments when the cycle is advantageous to them. When you look at steelmakers, how important to you is their capital allocation ability? Is that the No. 1 thing you look at when you look at these businesses?

Hall: There's two things, and it's kind of a 1A and 1B, when it comes to steelmaking. Capital allocation, obviously, is critically important because the business is very cyclical. If a company leverages itself too much making an acquisition or investing a substantial amount of capital in a new plan and it takes two or three years to build that new plan before it can get any return, those are things that can really be problematic. U.S. Steel, for example, has taken a beating because of some bad timing on some acquisitions that have financially handcuffed the company.

The other part of it is low-cost operations and having operations that you can be as variable in your cost structure as possible. Again, because of the cyclical nature, if you have a cost structure for your operations that, maybe you're not as super profitable at the peak of volume, but you have the ability to lower costs more quickly when demand weakens, that's a real, durable competitive advantage in the steel market. The companies that make for good investments in steel are the ones that can at least tread water when the market goes to a downturn and have financial strength to make smart acquisitions when everybody else is weak.

Sciple: Jason, on the second half of the show, we're going to talk about our favorite steel investment and really, one of our favorite investments in the industrial space. That's Nucor. Jason, before we dive too deep into Nucor, you mentioned just a second ago how important capital allocation is and how important low-cost production is for a business. What does Nucor have that checks those boxes for you and makes it stand out as a steel investment folks should really pay attention to?

Hall: If you look at the company's history, Nucor's interesting. It's not like some of the other big steelmakers that have been around for a century and they still have foundries that are based on the legacy way we've been making the steel for hundreds of years. The company started off in the nuclear business. Then they started making this transition into steel. Management made the decision to focus on buying recycled scrap and using electric arc mini-mills to take that scrap and reproduce new steel from it. The benefit of this mini-mill strategy is a variable cost structure. You also tend to require less employees per ton of steel that you produce. By starting with that foundation of the mini-mills that give you that variable cost structure, an ability to ramp up and ramp down production more quickly than with a traditional foundry, Nucor is set up to be a real leader in riding out the ups and downs of the market. They've proven the ability to be able to do that.

How that's paid off is through the CEOs that have been in charge of the company. John Ferriola is the current CEO. His predecessor was the CEO for a couple of decades. Ferriola has been at the company for about 30 years. They're very steeped in understanding the industry really well.

But the key is that starting with that operational structure, being able to take advantage of the swings in the cycle to allocate capital to fund great opportunities for growth. When the cycle is weak, when the steel industry is down, there are a lot of opportunities to buy assets, sometimes at fire sale prices. When you have another steel producer that's really struggling, the opportunity to buy those assets at low multiples for their cash-flow-generating capacity. Over the past decade, Nucor has spent $8 billion or $9 billion, and a lot of that has been bolt-on acquisitions of expanding their capacities into other kinds of steel that they don't necessarily do well or they have a lot of business in now. They've added to their ability to buy scrap, which lowers their input costs.

All of these little bolt-on things, through smart capital allocation, have allowed it to continue to get bigger and bigger while its competitors were still struggling just to make it through. It's really, really paid off.

Sciple: Right. You talk about Nucor, they have the best balance sheet in the sector. They also have, from a technological point of view, you mentioned these mini-mills that can really adjust through the cycle. They require less headcount. You compare that to a company like U.S. Steel that still uses traditional blast furnaces. They're not as nimble as the cycle changes, as well as, they don't have as healthy of a balance sheet, which has prevented them -- as we talked about before the show -- from making investments like Nucor has into these mini-mills, to maybe transition their production capacity into something that maybe is more flexible with the market. Nucor has positioned themselves from a balance sheet point of view, from the assets they have from their mills, as well as -- as you mentioned -- John Ferriola and their management, to really be in a position to continue to have success in the steel market moving forward.

I want to talk about, Jason, specifically how Nucor lays out their capital allocation strategy. They put it out straight for you in the 10-K. They have a three-legged stool they look at. They want to invest in the business for profitable long-term growth; they want to reward shareholders with dividends; and they want to repurchase shares when they are attractive in the market. Going through these one by one, let's talk first about how they're investing their money. You mentioned, over the past several years, they've invested many billions of dollars in acquisitions to bring new businesses into Nucor. However, they have recently shifted that strategy to doing more greenfield investments themselves. Can you talk about what's behind that transition in strategy for Nucor, and what they're doing moving forward with those investments?

Hall: It's interesting. If you follow the steel industry over time, Nucor's capital allocation strategy actually is an interesting barometer that you can use to judge the health, to a certain extent, of the industry. When Nucor is buying other steelmakers or steelmaking assets, the industry is generally probably struggling a little bit, because it's able to buy those assets for better multiples and get accretive returns. In other words, it can spend $500 million to buy this distributor today, and it will start adding to its cash flows pretty much as soon as it integrates into the business. There's a big benefit, in terms of per-share value for shareholders, for acquisitions when you can buy them cheaply.

About a year ago, Nucor started changing that strategy and started announcing these new projects. It's building a couple of facilities in Florida. It just announced, I think it was just yesterday, one of its biggest single greenfield projects in a very long time. $1.35 billion to build a new mill in Kentucky. It's going to take about three years to kick in.

Here's the other side of it. Having shifted to these greenfield investments, these take a long time. The one announced yesterday, I think it said it would begin operation in 2022. You're talking about three-plus years before this $1.35 billion it's going to spend, is going to start generating any returns. That says right there that the price that it would have to pay to buy somebody else's steel mill is just too high to even consider buying it, even getting the benefit of that accretive potential return. I think that's a really good indicator where we are right now. The steel industry is pretty healthy, and the multiples are high enough. That's why, for the past year, Nucor says, "We're just going to build our own projects. We'll get a better return."

Sciple: Sure. Whenever they first announced their intentions to pursue this big $1.3 billion investment in a new facility, you mentioned CEO John Ferriola, he said on a call with analysts that part of the reason they're making this investment has to do with some of the trade actions that have taken place. He said, "From the look of the trade actions that we've been so successful in bringing against violators in the plate steel market," they make plate steel at this new factory in Kentucky, "we have confidence that the trade remedies give us better long-term protection, and we're confident that not only that import levels today are down substantially," they're confident that those levels are going to continue to remain low in the future, allowing Nucor's new plant that they're bringing into production to fill that gap of where those imports have left. It's a testament to, we have one of the best capital allocators in the steel industry saying, "Hey, these tariffs have worked. We expect them to continue to work. We're allocating capital on reliance on those continuing to work." I think that's something powerful to notice for investors.

Hall: Let me add something to that that I think is important to note, too. If you look at the kinds of investments that Nucor makes, it's not just buying more volume in a certain category. The company has identified where the demand is going to be. For example, the U.S. energy industry has exploded over the past half-decade. There's a lot of steel that's consumed by that industry. Nucor has done a really good job of building out capacity for the things that the steel industry wants to consume in terms of steel, and also geographically putting that capacity close to the industry. The Kentucky steel mill is a good example. It's going to be producing a plate that it's going to have access to logistics to get it to where the end demand is. That's a cost advantage. Transportation of steel is expensive.

It's not just that they buy, it's what and where they buy and where they build. It's really impressive.

Sciple: Sure. The other acquisitions that they've been making -- obviously, this new plan is a Greenfield acquisition, but over the past couple of years, you mentioned they've been making some acquisitions. They've been moving further down the value chain, buying more value-added steel products. Over the past three years, the company has invested over $3 billion in building out its tubular products division. Acquired four or five different businesses so they could vertically integrate a lot of those businesses. My girlfriend worked for one of the companies that was acquired. They bring these companies in, really are able to change the culture, bring costs down, integrate them into the greater part of the Nucor ecosystem. A lot of these acquisitions, too, were using Nucor steel as their input. So, obviously, when Nucor acquires these, the cost of that steel go straight to the margin for Nucor there. Really, some exciting moves that they've made to position the company going forward.

Now, Jason, let's talk a little bit about the dividend. Nucor, I believe it's a dividend aristocrat. It's been paying out dividends consistently since, I believe, the 1970s. Yielding 2.8% today. When you look at that dividend, how attractive is Nucor to you if you're a dividend growth investor looking for a reliable company that's going to continue paying out year over year?

Hall: I think it's interesting. I think Nucor is pushing 55 years of consecutive growth of its regular dividend. There's a caveat I want to put in here. If you actually go back to the global financial crisis timeframe and look at a chart showing the dividends paid, you'll actually see Nucor's dividend dropped. That's because it was paying a special dividend. That's something they'll occasionally do, is pay a special dividend. It's kind of a, "Here you go!" So, if you look at the chart, it looks like the dividend dropped at some point. But the regular dividend, what they say they're going to pay every single quarter, has gone up modestly every year for like 55 years at this point.

Now, I will say this. If you're looking for a stock that's going to grow its dividend pretty sharply, these are pretty modest increases. But it's definitely enough to keep you ahead of inflation. I think there's definitely some real value there.

The thing is, when it comes to the steel industry, if you want to exposure to, for example, the infrastructure we're talking about, that's not just in the U.S., there's going to be a big global demand for steel for infrastructure. I think over the next decade, a lot of that excess capacity is going to get soaked up by demand in other parts of the world. That's healthy for Nucor and the U.S. for that to happen. Then you have the energy industry with big demand; the auto business, a lot of domestic production has been added over the past decade. Nucor's shifted volumes to produce steel for the applications in that area as well.

I think that dividend, again, it's going to be locked in, it's going to be safe. But I wouldn't count on it for super hyper growth. I think that's really important.

Sciple: Sure, yeah. Last thing on the safety of the dividend, over the past three years, they've averaged about 28% of their operating cash flow to be paid out. Obviously, that means they've got lots of extra cash. Pretty well-covered dividend. Something to watch out for.

Let's talk about that third leg of Nucor's capital allocation stool, and that is opportunistically repurchasing shares when their cash position is strong relative to the growth opportunities. What does that mean? That means when with the cash on hand, they can get a better rate of return buying their own stock vs. investing in new greenfield development. In the past year, Nucor rolled out a new $2 billion repurchase program in September. They repurchased $854 million of stock in 2018 at an average price of $60.19. It's trading today at $57.50.

Jason, as you look at these repurchases, the stock is down from where they bought it. However, it is exciting to see the business repurchasing there. What are your thoughts as you look at these repurchases, particularly over the past year?

Hall: To me, when you have somebody like Ferriola, who has a clearly good track record of capital allocation with acquisitions, with investments, and building out new assets, it's hard to question -- the stock is down 15% or so over the past year -- whether or not those are smart moves. I think it's reasonable. There was a period of time where the company was transitioning from planning out some greenfield investments, and not really identifying any acquisition opportunities. Taking that excess capital and investing it, putting it toward buying back shares, has certainly made sense. I think they still have $1 billion or maybe more on their approved. I'm not sure what the total board amount is --

Sciple: $1.5 billion.

Hall: $1.5 billion. So, they have a pretty substantial amount of money that's sitting out there that's approved to be able to buy back shares. I think, again, you have a CEO that's proven that he's going to put the money where it's going to be most effective to generate per-share returns. Generally, we can say, stock buybacks, CEOs suck at it. They're just not good at it. But when you have somebody good at capital allocation, you give them the benefit of the doubt.

Sciple: Right. We're going to look at whether these stock repurchases were intelligent not over the six months since they were put in place, but really over the next five or 10 years. When you look at the cycle of the steel industry, it's not a one-year cycle. It's a multi-year cycle. We have to trust that Ferriola has really proven over time that he has a strong track record of capital allocation. I don't think he's magically lost those skills in the past year. I think, as we look forward, these repurchases are going to look more prudent over time.

Jason, we've talked about Nucor's capital allocation strategy, how they have some structural advantages from the nature of their mills and how they use recycled scrap to make their steel. Their management has a really strong track record in capital allocation. As you look out over the next steel cycle, the next five years or so, if you're an investor who takes a position in Nucor, what should you be really paying attention to with this business looking forward?

Hall: I think you want to look at their operating ratio of their mills. What is that percentage? Are they still in the 90s? Are they consistently in the 90 percentile in terms of keeping their steel mills running? That's a really major thing to follow. That tells you the health of the industry itself. I think you want to focus on that.

A couple of things that you can look to measure -- again, you can't look at it from quarter to quarter, but look at it over a year or two-year period -- look at return on invested capital, look at return on assets, to see if Nucor is continuing to deliver the kind of returns that it has historically. Historically, this is a company that's returned through the cycle 16% to 20% return on invested capital. If you compare that to somebody like U.S. Steel over the past decade, they've spent a lot of time with negative returns on capital. So I think that's a really important thing.

One thing that's important to see, because of this transition to these greenfield investments, those return numbers are probably going to drop. It's going to spend capital that's going to take two, three, four, five years, in some cases, to really fully start generating anticipated cash flows. That's an important thing to remember.

For me, the biggest signal with a company like Nucor, as long as you continue to see the high operating rates, you continue to see above-industry-average returns. If the steel industry goes into a down cycle and the stock drops, again, as long as the other things continue to look above-average, that becomes a buying opportunity because it is a cyclical business, and the best time to buy is on the downside of the cycle. You get the best prices, you get the biggest gains, on the upswing.

Sciple: Sure. Following up on that, Jason, we've looked over the past year, and really, the entire steel industry, we mentioned, has seen some big bumps from tariffs. Really, all their operating metrics have been up. However, shares have been flat to down. I think U.S. Steel is down 50%. Nucor is down 15% or so. As you look at that, obviously the market thinks the steel industry is not going to maintain that growth. Maybe we're about to turn over into the bottom half of the cycle. As you look at the way things are trending from that perspective, is Nucor a buy today? Or is it something where we want to wait for that cycle that the market is starting to price in, starting to turn over, to wait for that actually to come into fruition to create a better buying opportunity? What do you think?

Hall: If you go back to March 1st of last year, the beginning of the tariffs, Nucor's stock is down 15% since that day. It peaked after the tariff announcement. It's down 17% from its high over the past year. Everybody else is down 30% to 60%. The market is clearly saying, "We're concerned about the fact that interest rates have gone up." These companies use a lot of debt, that affects their costs. "We're concerned about macroeconomic concerns. We're concerned that the yield curve inverted," or whatever. There's all these signals that say that a recession is imminent. And yeah, a recession is imminent. It's always imminent! We just don't know if it's going to be next quarter, next year, or five years from now.

With all of those things baked in, I think, if you look on a valuation basis, we're talking about single-digit price to earnings for the projections for 2019 earnings. It's certainly cheap -- again, if we don't see the collapse of the cycle. And again, I would say, if you like Nucor, if you like the idea of owning the best steelmaker, this isn't one that you throw all your money at one time, you buy it and then you never buy it again. I think now is as good a time as any to buy it. If we do hit that the cyclical downturn, you just need to have some dry powder so you can take advantage of that weakness and buy more, if that makes sense.

​Sciple: Yeah. I think, if you're going to look in the steel industry, I think you look at Nucor, and that's it. I don't think I could make a case for investing in AK Steel or U.S. Steel. Steel Dynamics, you can make an argument. They're in that same mini-mill industry Nucor is in. However, the track record of the management I think makes Nucor stand out a little bit. But if you want to be invested in the steel industry, if you want some exposure to this infrastructure push that is going to have to happen sooner or later on a global scale, I think Nucor is the way to go. They really have a strong track record, have the right assets to ride throughout the cycle, a strong balance sheet. Really, really a great business. Again, it's one of those, if you buy at the wrong time in the cycle, you might have a bad time, at least in the near-term, with your investment. But it's one of the few steelmakers you can buy, and if you're going to hold it for the long term, it's going to work well for you.

​ Hall: I think the only exception to that is if you bought Nucor in like 2008. It was right at the peak. It's still actually still down from that point. But think about it, you're talking about buying it right before the worst financial crisis in almost a century at this point. So, that's the one exception to that. But, I think you buy right now, you look back 10 years from now, I would be stunned if investors did not make money. There's no doubt about that.

Sciple: Awesome! Really exciting company. I think all our listeners should add it to their watchlist and really pay attention to it. Even you don't invest, it's a good way to track, like Jason said, the way they allocate their capital is a good signal for folks about where we might be in the cycle, particularly the industrial cycle that Nucor operates in.

Jason, thanks so much for coming on the show! I'm going to let you get to your TV, watch some Braves baseball, and enjoy the opening day. Thanks for joining us! Looking forward to having you on again soon!

Hall: Fool on! Go Braves!

Sciple: Awesome! As always, people on the program may own companies discussed on the show, and The Motley Fool may have formal recommendations for or against the stocks discussed, so don't buy or sell anything based solely on what you hear. Thanks to Steve Broido for his work behind the glass! For Jason Hall, I'm Nick Sciple. Thanks for listening and Fool on!

Jason Hall owns shares of Nucor. Nick Sciple has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Nucor. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.