Stressed Out: U.S. Steel to Idle Mills, Lay Off Hundreds

 | Mar 18, 2016 | 6:18 PM EDT
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This article is part of a Real Money series on 20 companies investors should consider adding to their distressed watch list.

Just when it appeared U.S. Steel (X) was on its way out of a long slump, the Pittsburgh-based manufacturer on Friday unveiled hundreds of workforce layoffs and shutdowns of active mills.

U.S. Steel, a member of Real Money's "Stressed Out" watch list, said mills will be idled across Alabama, Ohio and Texas, and 650 union and 120 non-union jobs are likely to be affected.

The company's stock has long been plagued by declining metal prices, cheap imports and vanishing oil-and-gas customers, in which shares have fallen 28% over the last 12 months.

But many investors have been regaining confidence amid a rebound in crude and metal prices, along with a 266% tariff on Chinese imports levied by the Commerce Department.

The most recent move, however, may signal that U.S. Steel's so-called "Carnegie Way" cost-cutting initiative will take more significant measures than expected before productivity can be kicked back into high gear, which would put an end to a persistent cash burn.

And Friday's cuts may come as an unpleasant reminder to many investors of last August's closure of U.S. Steel's Birmingham, Ala.-based Fairfield Works Mill, and more than 1,100 jobs -- ushering the worst of the company's 2015 share-price declines.

U.S. Steel stock traded down about 1% in after-market trading Friday.

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