Fastest-growing rank: 76
Get quote: STLD
3-year average annual return: 45%
Steel Dynamics, meanwhile, has boosted shipments from two million tons to 5.5 million over that same span, and revenues have leaped from $607 million to nearly $4 billion. It has now made our list of speediest growers four years in a row.
Those fabulous gains have been accompanied by equally spectacular stock rallies, so the easy money is gone. Yet even as prices for flat-rolled steel have wobbled in recent months, analysts say Nucor and Steel Dynamics should remain strong performers as the market realizes that their newfound profitability isn't just a flash in the blast furnace.
"These stocks are still undervalued in view of the new sustainability of earnings and cash flow," says Mazzaferro. Steel Dynamics and Nucor trade for about nine times projected 2008 earnings.
Nucor also carries a dividend of 44 cents a share - and has been paying a supplemental dividend (now $2 a share) since 2005, bringing its overall yield to better than 4.5%. (Steel Dynamics' effective yield is 1.4%.)
So as the steel recovery enters its next phase, those stocks should be rewarded with higher multiples, analysts say. That means there's still plenty of opportunity.
"It's growth at a value price," says Michelle Appelbaum, a veteran industry analyst who runs her own research firm in Chicago. Who doesn't like to buy quality at a discount?
See more Fastest-Growing data for Steel Dynamics