Occasionally a stock comes along that's easy. Nucor (NUE) is that kind of stock. The company reported a terrific quarter, showing great growth at a time when every other steel company has had its head handed to it. The balance sheet is its best in years. Its exports, while small, are starting to spurt. The raw costs are coming down as the bidding-up of scrap subsides.
Further, the business is no longer as leveraged to non-residential construction, as it is recognized by management that such construction -- which is 60% below where it was in 2007 -- isn't coming back any time soon. Autos are playing a bigger and bigger role, and the auto business is thriving. Plus it offers a bountiful yield with a dividend that has been boosted for 37 years and is about to be boosted again.
Beyond that, there's a huge kicker: the election. The Senate passed a bill Tuesday that, should it progress into law, would drastically cut back imports from China. That would be hugely bullish for Nucor. President Obama is trying to get something done, but he doesn't want a trade war. The Republicans don't mind taking the trade war because they -- like Dan Dimicco, one of my favorite CEOs -- acknowledge we have been in a losing one with the Chinese for years. So 2012 will be a year full of good headlines for the steelmakers.
To me, Nucor is a stock that must be bought -- especially on the down days, when there are rarely any bids for the industrials because of the horrendous sell and double sell programs. It is a terrific place to be with catalysts galore.