Goldman Sachs & Massive Steel Prices (X, NUE, ATI, STLD, SCHN, GNA, WOR, AKS, ROCK, RS, CMC)

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Goldman Sachs is out with a call raising its steel company earnings targets after above expectation steel prices and tighter supplies that represent a physical steel shortage. It sees some US steel prices rising from $700 recent targets up to a new $850 target per short ton.  It also sees 2009 prices above 2008 prices and sees wider spreads with raw steel compared to scrap costs.

There was one lowered target on Olympic Steel, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZEUS).  Goldman Sachs is raising ZEUS earnings estimates for this year and next, but it is downgrading the stock from Buy to Neutral because its shares are up more than 50% since being added as Buy in November.  It is raising the rating on U.S. Steel (NYSE: X) from neutral to Buy and it has raised targets as well, and it raised 2008 EPS from $11.10 to $14.80 and 2008 from $12.75 to $16.75.

Other estimates are raised in the sector:  Allegheny Tech (NYSE: ATI) was maintained as Buy and saw a slight boost to earnings targets.  Gerdau AmeriSteel (NYSE: GNA), Gibralter Ind. (NASDAQ: ROCK), Reliance Steel (NYSE: RS), Steel Dynamics (NASDAQ: STLD), AK Steel (NYSE: AKS), and Commercial Metals (NYSE: CMC) are all neutral rated but saw estimates raised considerably considering the neutral ratings.

The firm is also positive on Nucor Corp. (NYSE: NUE), which it maintains a Buy rating on and raised estimates sharply on for this year and next.

Goldman Sachs has sell ratings on Worthington (NYSE: WOR) and Schnitzer Steel (NASDAQ: SCHN), although the firm even raised earnings estimates on those two names.

Jon C. Ogg
March 20, 2008