The steel industry has been in the top group in terms of relative performance for the last 4 years. Relative performance is the return of the companies in the sector taken as a whole and compared to the collective returns of other sectors. In the last 37 years, no industry has been in the top group for 5 years in a row.
China has been a major force in the steel industry. Chinese steel production has grown from 13% of world steel production in 1995 to 32% in 2005. However, China's demand for steel has grown just as fast, and it remains a net importer of steel.
The steel industry has many constituents, including American stalwart US Steel (X). Many barrons made their fortunes in the steel industry when it was a non-commodity.
Two US companies have emerged. Steel Dynamics (STLD) and Nucor (NUE) used a different process to run the company, manage employees, produce steel, and distribute the finished product. These two companies have been able to produce positive cash flow returns on invested capital where as the more heavily unionized old companies have not been able to sustain such profitability.
Notable also has been the evolution of ArcelorMittal. From his early involvement in an asset-leasing deal with the Steel Company of Trinidad and Tobago in 1989 up until the acquisition of Arcelor in 2006, Lakshmi Mittal grew his empire into what became the world's largest steel company in the space of ~17 years . This rapid growth was underpinned by a strategy based on:
In recent years, production advantages shifted in favor of oversees manufactures. China has been a major force in the steel industry. Chinese steel production has grown from 13% of world steel production in 1995 to 32% in 2005. However, China's demand for steel has grown just as fast, and it remains a net importer of steel.
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