Stressed Out: U.S. Steel Doubles Market Cap in Year of Steep Job Cuts

 | Apr 07, 2016 | 4:00 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.

U.S. Steel (X) is in the midst of a fabulous year for shareholders, despite the disappearance of many oil-and-gas customers as crude prices lag. The shares are up more than 100% year to date.

And part of CEO Mario Longhi's success has been reducing expenses under the Pittsburgh-based manufacturer's "Carnegie Way" cost-cutting initiative, as Real Money reported.

On Wednesday, U.S. Steel, a member of Real Money's "Stressed Out" watch list, announced it will be laying off 25% of its North American non-union workforce, or about 750 jobs.

This comes on the heels of a March announcement from the company that mills will be idled across Alabama, Ohio and Texas, and 650 union and 120 non-union jobs will be eliminated.

Despite the strong gains in 2016, the company's stock has struggled over the last year amid weak metal prices, cheap imports and a reduction in oil-and-gas customers. The shares are down 35% over the past 12 months.

Much of the relief that U.S. Steel investors are enjoying in 2016 stems from a Commerce Department announcement in early March that the U.S. will begin imposing a 266% tariff on Chinese steel imports.

X shares have also been bouyed by a sharp increase in steel prices, which have risen 25% over the past two months to $530 per short ton of U.S. cold-rolled steel imports, based on Bloomberg pricing data.

Meanwhile, shares of Ohio-based manufacturers AK Steel (AKS) and TimkenSteel (TMST), both members of the Stressed Out index, have gained about 85% and 4%, respectively. And shares of Nucor (NUE), the largest U.S. steelmaker, are up about 16% over the period.

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