NUCOR COMPETITIVE STRATEGY ANALYSIS CONTENTS 1. Case Profile 2. Situational Analysis 2. 1General External Environment (PESTLE model) 2. 1. 1 Political/Legal 2. 1. 2 Economic 2. 1. 3 Sociocultural 2. 1. 4 Technological 2. 1. 5 Environmental 2. 1. 6 Demographic 2. 1. 7 Global 2. 1 Industry Analysis (Porter 5 Forces) 2. 2. 1 Threat of new entrants 2. 2. 2 Bargaining power of suppliers 2. 2. 3 Bargaining power of buyers 2. 2. 4 Threat of substitute products 2. 2. 5 Intensity of rivalry 2. 3 Competitive Environment Analysis 2. 3. Future objectives 2. 3. 2 Current strategy 2. 3. 3 Assumptions 2. 3. 4 Capabilities 3. Strategic Analysis 3. 1 Strategies 3. 1. 1Operational level 3. 1. 2Business level 3. 1. 3Competitive level 3. 1. 4 Corporate level 4. Core Competencies 4. 1Tangible resources 4. 2Intangible resources 4. 3Capabilities 5. Value Chain 6. Sustainable Competitive Advantage 7. Performance Appraisal 8. SWOT Analysis 8.
1 Strengths 8. 2 Weaknesses 8. 3 Opportunities 8. 4 Threats 9. Strategy Formulation and Implementation 9. 1 New Initiatives to Sustain Growth
APPENDIX 1: Top-30 producers by International Iron & Steel Institute APPENDIX 2: Top Competitors Key Measures: NUCOR APPENDIX 3: FIVE-YEAR FINANCIAL REVIEW FOR NUCOR (2002-2006) Case Study Analysis: NUCOR 1. Case Profile Nucor Corp. , the U. S largest mini-mill operator1 and largest steel manufacturer by tons produced2, continues to lead the industry in efficiency, technological innovation, profitability and delivery of high quality products at low cost structure, after a record of more than 16 years of rapid growth in a declining industry3.
And with a strong relationship with its workers without unionization, Nucor’s employees claimed to be the industry’s most satisfied, most motivated and most productive, making them a formidable workforce. This case considers how Nucor has achieved its success and how to sustain it. 2. Situational Analysis 2. 1. General External Environment (PESTLE model4) 2. 1. 1. Political/legal. The steel industry has seen rocky labour relations since the late 19th century with fatalities to striking workers4. Majority of workers are represented by the United Steel Workers of America.
Another issue is the integrated steel producers have filed charges against importers of dumping steel prices, blaming them especially Japan, for declining market shares. Nucor’s plant in Hertford County was located on the banks of a fishery that required restoration in a law passed in 1997. 2. 1. 2 Economic. Steel industry is a cyclical business, subject to economic fluctuations since it depended on durable and capital goods (car, building). The industry does well during economic expansion and suffers losses and even bankruptcies during economic downturn. . 1. 3. Sociocultural. The industry became a source of employment, symbolizes American economic power and pride during good times and symbolizes economic decline and source of shame when foreign companies took over market shares5. 2. 1. 4. Technological. Technology drives major changes in the production process to increase flexibility, efficiencies and allowed automation which include the continuous casting technology, blast oxygen furnace and electric arc furnace. 2. 1. 5. Environmental.
Nucor’s mill in Crawfordsville, Indianna was alleged to have violated federal and state clean air rules and discharge of 6,720 tons of pollutants into the air each year by U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2. 1. 6. Demographic. Mini-mills which are located close to customer base has moved as population of U. S. moved to south and west. Demographic shifts affect the industry since construction utilizes a significant amount of steel. 2. 1. 7. Global. U. S. steel exports were negligible although it had grown to 3% to 5% by the 1990s6. The U. S. teel industry has benefited greatly from the Japanese mill from their large investments in U. S. joint venture projects, new technologies, high productivity and quality product7. Globalization will subject U. S. steel makers to vulnerable changes. 2. 2. Industry Analysis Porter’s Five Forces Analysis 2. 2. 1) Threat of new entrants. For mature integrated steel industry, threat is low due to economies of scale, high capital injection, cyclical nature of business and difficult access to supply and distribution; but slightly higher for mini-mill because of lower capital commitment and scale. . 2. 2) Bargaining power of suppliers. For integrated steel makers, they have effectively neutralized the suppliers’ bargaining power by backward integration (steel makers acquiring coal/coke mines and transportation facilities). For mini-mill, their reliability on scrap metal has given supplier moderate to high bargaining power. Higher cost of scrap metal due to limited supply has forced mini-mill to more costly materials like iron carbide. Nucor reduced the bargaining power of steel scrap supplier by backward integration. 8 2. 2. ) Bargaining power of buyers. It is weak to moderate since producers can threaten major distributors and wholesalers with forward integration (taking over direct distribution). But the large buyers (e. g. car makers) have more bargaining power. For example, the U. S. steel producers had to fulfill Japanese automakers’ quality and standards before they were allowed to supply the Japanese auto plants in the U. S. 9 2. 2. 4) Threat of substitute products. The threat is high in applications where strength is a not crucial concern but cost is (e. g. lastic, wood, synthetic materials, fiberglass); low for applications that require strength since substitute materials are just not strong enough10. Also, the many composition steel can be produced reduce the threat. 2. 2. 5) Intensity of rivalry. It is a highly competitive market with high exit barriers since assets are specialized, increase of mini-mill competitors taking on production of steel sheets and other steel products, stagnant demand, many global competitors, commodity-like products that minimizes switching costs and customer loyalty and excess capacity11. 2. 3.
Competitive Environment Analysis Nucor has grown to become the largest steelmaker in the US by tonnage2. To have a sustainable market leader position, it must continue to compete for more market share from the large, integrated steelmakers. Although Nucor is the first mover in the mini-mill sector, it must also compete against second movers. 2. 3. 1) Future objectives. Nucor’s primary objective is “the production of high volumes of quality, low-cost steel. ”12 It has an ambitious annual earnings growth of 10-15%. Nucor’s competitors would have the same objective, but unlikely the same high annual growth.
Nucor’s competitors will be less risk-taking, giving Nucor a distinct advantage since a risk-aversive approach produces lower returns. 2. 3. 2) Current strategy. Nucor’s strategy is cost leadership. Even if there are changes in the competitive environment, this strategy is preferred since steel is a commodity-like product. While some mini-mill competitors follow a differentiation strategy, most follow a cost leadership strategy, though not very successfully. 2. 3. 3) Assumptions. It is a general assumption for all competitors that cyclical fluctuations are continuous.
Nucor’s competitors often looked like operating under a status quo while Nucor has grown to produce sheet-fed steel and stainless steel in its mini-mills, a seemingly impossible task. 2. 3. 4) Capabilities. Nucor’s strengths include highest productivity, lowest cost structure and a high profitability (30 years of continuous profits)13 in the industry and excellent labour-management relations. Nucor’s weakness, comparing to its competitors, is more exposure to short-term losses and temporary setbacks resulting from risk-taking.
The large integrated steel producers are comparatively strong in terms of size, established customer base and economies of scale. In terms of tonnage produced, Nucor ranked 8th globally with 20. 3 tons in 2006 (Appendix 1). Nucor could further strengthen its position as it is not far from the world’s 2nd largest steelmaker (Nippon Steel, Japan) of 34. 7 tons. ROE wise (Appendix 2), Nucor is much stronger than its competitors with 29. 38 as compared to Commercial Metals Co’s 22. 63 and U. S Steel’s 17. 79.
ROA wise, Nucor is also much stronger than its competitors with 15. 6 as compared to 8. 33 and 7. 13. Nucor is more financially sound than its competitors with a current ratio of 2. 06 as compared to 1. 69 and 1. 59. 3. Strategic Analysis 3. 1 Strategies 3. 1. 1) Operational level. Nucor’s operational level strategy is core process re-engineering. This includes pre-heating the ladles allowing for faster flow of steel into the caster, continuous casters and a processes design that limit work-in-progress inventory, limit space and increase flexibility. . 1. 2) Business level. Nucor’s business level strategy is low cost leadership, keeping with its primary objective of the production of high volumes of quality, low-cost steel. 3. 1. 3) Competitive strategy. Nucor is the industry’s catalyst for technology innovation. It pioneered and took lead of the mini-mill concept, which later produce sheet steel and thin slab stainless steel. Also taking risk with a focus on long-term gains (versus short term risks). 3. 1. 4) Corporate level. To achieve its goal, Nucor diversify throughout the steel business.
Nucor ventured into traditional bastions of integrated steelmakers (sheet steel, stainless steel), not constrained by the mini-mill format. Nucor has engaged in numerous upstream and downstream diversification. 4. Core Competencies Core competencies are special capabilities that are critical to a business achieving competitive edge. It is harmonizing of diverse production skills integrated with technological development. 19 4. 1) Tangible resources. Nucor’s tangible resources include strong financial resources with a proven ability to generate internal funds and a track profitability record that gives it enormous borrowing power.
Organizational resources appear slim without formal planning, coordinating or controlling systems. Physical resources include 8 high-performing mini-mills strategically located to customer base and good access to raw materials with the company’s new iron carbide plant. Nucor has considerable technological resources, mainly involving process. 4. 2) Intangible resources. Many innovative ideas come from its human resources. Human resources include knowledge of the business know-how, motivation to perform and strong worker-management trust and co-operation. . 3) Capabilities. This includes the capability to produce high volumes of quality low-cost steel, innovative technology, continuous process refinement, continuous productivity improvement, motivated workforce, strong corporate culture. Employees are encouraged to take risk and a high tolerance for failure is given. Employees have a sense of ownership, exceedingly loyal and share a common goal of ensuring Nucor’s meets its primary objective. These give Nucor a competitive edge that is costly and difficult to imitate17.
And the costly duplication suggests that the resource or capability is inelastic in supply, earning the firm who possess it an economic rent. 18 5. Value chain analysis i. Support Activities Firm InfrastructureWith no formal planning or formal mission, possess a strong culture Human Resource ManagementNot unionized, rewards risk-taking, high tolerance for failure, performance based bonus plans, encourage employee suggestions Technology Developmentcontinuous process refinement, continuous improvement, licensing/buying technology ProcurementUpstream diversification, process innovation i. Primary Activities Inbound LogisticsOperationsOutbound LogisticsMarketing & SalesService cost focused, coordinated with operational needsEfficient, low cost, high productivity, meeting or exceeding quality requirements, continuous improvementafter-sale support 6. Sustainable Competitive Advantage Sustainable competitive advantage is derived from the trust-based working relationships along with a high tolerance for failure, would allow Nucor to take the risk needed to produce sustainable growth.
The source of this trust is in Nucor’s distinctive human resources strategy, which is characterized by informality, ad hoc planning, pay for performance, and employee empowerment. 14 7. Performance Appraisal For the last five years, Nucor’s sales have increased over 240% from $4. 33 billion (2001) to $14. 75 billion (2006). Average sales price per ton has increased 88% from $354 (2001) to $667 (2006). Total tons sold to external customers have increased 81% from 12,237,000 tons (2001) to 22,118,000 tons (2006) (Appendix 3) (Figure 1).
This rapid growth has been derived from acquisitions, optimizing existing operations and developing traditional greenfield projects using innovative technologies. Nucor achieved record sales and net earnings in 2006 for the 3rd consecutive year due to historically high selling prices, margins and shipments. Nucor was strengthened as North America’s most diversified steel producer. With this diverse product line, Nucor’s short-term performance which is not dependant on any single market has been able to maintain profitability every year and every quarter since 1966. (Figure 2). Figure 1: Nucor’s Average Sales Price Per Ton & Total Tons Sold
Figure 2: Nucor’s Diversified Product Mix 8. SWOT Analysis 8. 1. Strengths 1. Strong financial resources (profits, returns) 2. Industry leading low cost structure 3. Motivated workforce 4. Strong corporate culture 5. Innovation resources 6. Trust-based relationships 7. Technological expertise 8. Strong physical resources 9. Strategic management & leadership style 8. 2. Weaknesses 1. Vulnerable to losses and setbacks from risk-taking 2. Lack of formal organizational systems may reduce efficiency 3. High tolerance for failure risks potential loss 4. Vague marketing structure or strategy 8. 3. Opportunities 1.
Expand into additional specialty products 2. Downstream diversification 3. Directly produce steel from iron carbide, eliminating the need for electric furnaces. 4. Growth and innovation through joint venture projects 5. Maintaining market leadership position 6. Exporting 7. Soaring global steel prices15 8. 4. Threats 1. Substitute products 2. Second mover mini-mill competitors 3. Integrated steelmaker competitors 4. Economic downturn 5. Sub-prime crisis in property industry 6. Globalization with consolidating competitors 7. Global oversupply (China slowed down by December 2004 and became net exporter) 8.
A new technology called Finex (by Posco in South Korea) Weaknesses and Threats- Nucor does not have serious weakness but only unused production capacity and a non-differentiated product. Serious threats from foreign competitors (e. g. Acelor Mittal) consolidating could affect Nucor’s growth. Such intense rivalry may also lead to price wars. Weaknesses and Opportunities- With soaring steel prices, expansion and vertical integration would give a better return. Strengths and Threats- Expanding its product line could mitigate the threats from foreign and local competitors, given soaring steel prices will give better return.
Consolidate with other steelmakers would make Nucor a bigger player globally. Using its market dominance, Nucor could negotiate with the government for better regulations against the foreign competitors. With its financial and leadership resources, Nucor should secure more backward integration into scrap steel market. Joint venture with Posco (South Korean steelmaker) to leverage new technology. Strengths and Opportunities- Nucor has the financial, human and technological resources to penetrate new market, to expand product range, to compete in the stainless steel market and to joint with Japan to open new market in the Asian region. . Strategy Formulation & Implementation Nucor’s current strategy is working. Its unique corporate culture and distinctive human resources strategy which produced a non-substitutable trust-based relationship, give Nucor a sustainable competitive advantage, contrasting the antagonistic relations in the steel industry. This trust enables Nucor to take risk which facilitates its growth. As an engineer from a major integrated mill said upon visiting a Nucor plant, that Nucor’s culture were such that everyone work hard and help each other, collectively survive and meet with success.
But theirs is one of aggression, confrontation and lack of trust. 16 9. 1. New Initiatives to Sustain Growth Nucor should further leverage its sustainable competitive advantage by expanding more aggressively, taking the following steps: 1. To build an additional iron carbide plant to increase the availability of low-cost raw materials. 2. To carry out market research to ascertain: a) Expand product line and downstream steel business (e. g. steel for building, bridges, highways, roof decking, flooring); b)Export market; c) Competitors’ current strategies, weaknesses and strengths; d) Joint venture partners and projects ) Expand domestic markets f) Backward integration (e. g. scrap brokerages) 3. To develop strategic marketing program 4. Add an employee stock ownership program to further reinforce employees’ sense of ownership and loyalty. REFERENCES 1. http://www. bizjournals. com/charlotte/stories/2008/04/21/daily34. html 2. http://www. anbhf. org/laureates/keniversen. htm 3. Johnson, G. & Scholes, K. (2005) Exploring Corporate Strategy: Text and Cases, Prentice Hall, London 4. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/U. S. _Steel_Recognition_Strike_of_1901 5. John H. Sheridan, 1996 “New Era – Or Breather? Industry Week, 5 February, pp 49 6. Brian K. Boyd & Steve Gove, “Nucor Corp. And the U. S. Steel Industry,” In: Strategic Management: Competitiveness and Globalization by Michael A. Hitt, R, Duane Ireland, & Robert E. Hoskisson (Cincinnati, OH: South-Western College Publishing, 2001), pp C479 7. Bryan Berry, (1996) “World Steel: Competing Strategies in Metallics, Melting, and Casting,” Iron Age New Steel, 12(4), April, pp 74. 8. Bryan Berry, (1996) “World Steel: Competing Strategies in Metallics, Melting, and Casting,” Iron Age New Steel, 12(4), April, pp 76. 9.
Bryan Berry, (1996) “World Steel: Competing Strategies in Metallics, Melting, and Casting,” Iron Age New Steel, 12(4), April, pp 76. 10. Brian K. Boyd & Steve Gove, “Nucor Corp. And the U. S. Steel Industry,” In: Strategic Management: Competitiveness and Globalization by Michael A. Hitt, R, Duane Ireland, & Robert E. Hoskisson (Cincinnati, OH: South-Western College Publishing, 2001), p. C483 11. Brian K. Boyd & Steve Gove, “Nucor Corp. And the U. S. Steel Industry,” In: Strategic Management: Competitiveness and Globalization by Michael A. Hitt, R, Duane Ireland, & Robert E.
Hoskisson (Cincinnati, OH: South-Western College Publishing, 2001), p. C480 12. Brian K. Boyd & Steve Gove, “Nucor Corp. And the U. S. Steel Industry,” In: Strategic Management: Competitiveness and Globalization by Michael A. Hitt, R, Duane Ireland, & Robert E. Hoskisson (Cincinnati, OH: South-Western College Publishing, 2001), p. C498 13. Brian K. Boyd & Steve Gove, “Nucor Corp. And the U. S. Steel Industry,” In: Strategic Management: Competitiveness and Globalization by Michael A. Hitt, R, Duane Ireland, & Robert E. Hoskisson (Cincinnati, OH: South-Western College Publishing, 2001), p. C477-C507 14.
Ted Kuster (1995) “How Nucor Crawfordsville Works,” Iron Age New Steel, 11(12), December, pp 36-47 15. http://www. usatoday. com/money/autos/2004-10-13-steel-prices_x. htm http://www. taipeitimes. com/News/worldbiz/archives/2004/03/26/2003107844 16. Bryan Berry (1996) “The Importance of Nucor,” Iron Age New Steel, 12(7), July, pp 2. 17. Barney, J. B. (1997) Gaining and Sustaining Competitive Advantage, Wesley Publishing, Addison 18. McTaggart, D and Findlay, C and Parkin, M (2006) Economic, Wesley Publishing, Addison 19. Prahalad, C. K. and Hamel G (1990) The Core Competence of the Corporation, Harvard Business Review, Mar, 1979
APPENDIX 1: Top-30 producers by International Iron & Steel Institute MtonSteelmaker 1117. 2ArcelorMittal (Global) 234. 7Nippon Steel (Japan) 332. 0JFE (Japan) 430. 1POSCO (South Korea) 528. 2Tata Steel (India) – Including Corus Group 622. 5Shanghai Baosteel Group Corporation (China) 721. 2United States Steel Corporation (United States) 820. 3Nucor Corporation (United States) 919. 1Tangshan (China) 1018. 2Gruppo Riva (Italy) 1117. 5Severstal (Russia) 1216. 8ThyssenKrupp (Germany) 1316. 1EvrazHolding (Russia) 1415. 6Gerdau (Brazil) 1515. 3Anshan (China) 1614. 6Shagang Group (China) 1714. 6Steel Authority of India Limited (India) 813. 8Wuhan Iron and Steel (China) 1913. 6Sumitomo Metal Industries (Japan) 2012. 8Techint (Argentina) 2112. 5Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works (Russia) 2211. 5Jinan (China) 2310. 9Magang Group (China) 2410. 8Laiwu Steel (China) 2510. 7China Steel (Taiwan) 2610. 5Shougang (China) 279. 9Valin Steel Group (China) 289. 8Imidro (Iran) 299. 5Industrial Union of Donbas (Ukraine) 309. 1Novolipetsk (Russia) Source: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/List_of_steel_producers This is a list of the largest steel-producing companies in the world according to the International Iron and Steel Institute.
The list is compiled from its page Top Steel Producers 2006, but updated below from other sources. (Output in million metric tons crude steel; the country/region of producer’s basing specified in brackets) Total world steel output in 2005: 1,131. 8 million metric tons (mmt) Total world steel output in 2006: 1,239. 5 million metric tons (mmt) APPENDIX 2: NUCOR’S TOP COMPETITORS KEY MEASURES NUCORCOMERCIAL METALS CO U. S. STEEL— VALUATION PRICE/EARNINGS (TTM)11. 9910. 5616. 34— PRICE/CASH FLOW9. 9610. 7617. 40— PRICE/SALES (TTM)1. 060. 430. 85— PRICE/BOOK3. 672. 222. 59— PER SHARE DATA LAST DIVIDEND36. 4719. 512. 71— BOOK VALUE18. 7714. 2948. 33— EPS (TTM)5. 092. 277. 08— REVENUE16. 59 B8. 32 B16. 87 B— PROFITABILITY EBIDTA3. 02 B684. 52 M1. 72 B— OPERATING MARGIN15. 38%6. 93%6. 79%— PROFIT MARGIN8. 87%4. 27%5. 21%— GROSS PROFIT MARGIN18. 86%13. 94%10. 28%— DIVIDEND DIVIDEND YIELD2. 77%1. 26%0. 55%— PAYOUT RATIO36. 4719. 6512. 71— ANNUAL DIVIDEND (TTM)176. 5 M——— DIVIDEND YIELD 5 YEAR AVERAGE3. 17%0. 90%0. 66%— GROWTH NET INCOME1. 47 B355. 43 M879 M— EPS (TTM)5. 09%2. 27%7. 08%— REVENUE16. 59 B8. 32 B16. 87 B— PEG1. 24%1. 58%0. 71%— FINANCIAL STRENGTH QUICK RATIO (MRQ)8. 874. 275. 21— CURRENT RATIO (MRQ)2. 61. 691. 59— LT DEBT TO EQUITY RATIO (MRQ)45. 9239. 0854. 38— TOTAL DEBT TO CAPITAL (MRQ)29. 6231. 4437. 07— ROE29. 3822. 6317. 79— ROA15. 608. 337. 13— ROIC (RETURN ON INVESTED CAPITAL)22. 0419. 0213. 41— ASSETS ASSET TURNOVER1. 692. 401. 08— ASSET PER EMPLOYEE545,895. 66667272,793. 63708557,714. 28571— INVENTORY TURNOVER9. 518. 637. 54 SOURCE: HTTP://FINANCE. AOL. COM/COMPANY/NUCOR-CORPORATION/NUE/NYS/TOP-COMPETITORS APPENDIX 3: FIVE-YEAR FINANCIAL REVIEW FOR NUCOR (2002-2006) FOR THE YEAR20062005200420032002 Net sales14,751,27012,700,99911,376,8286,265,8234,801,777 Costs, expenses and other:
Cost of products sold11,284,60610,108,8059,174,6115,993,4924,335,409 Marketing, administrative and other expenses592,473459,460374,730165,369175,589 Interest (income) expense, net(37,365 4,20122,35224,62714,286 Minority interests219,121110,65080,84023,90479,408 Other income— (9,200 (1,596 (11,547 (29,900 12,058,83510,673,9169,650,9376,195,8454,574,792 Earnings before income taxes2,692,4352,027,0831,725,89169,978226,985 Provision for income taxes935,653709,834607,9065,18166,899 Net earnings1,756,7821,317,2491,117,98564,797160,086 Net earnings per share: Basic (1)5. 734. 193. 530. 210. 51 Diluted (1)5. 684. 153. 00. 210. 51 Dividends declared per share (1)2. 150. 930. 240. 200. 19 Percentage of net earnings to net sales11. 9 10. 4 9. 8 1. 0 3. 3 Return on average equity38. 3 33. 8 38. 2 2. 7 7. 0 Capital expenditures338,404331,466285,925215,408243,598 Depreciation363,936375,054383,305364,112307,101 Sales per employee1,2731,1591,107637528 AT YEAR END Current assets4,683,0654,081,6113,182,1321,639,7841,429,305 Current liabilities1,421,9171,228,6181,042,776615,067573,697 Working capital3,261,1482,852,9932,139,3561,024,717855,608 Cash provided by operating activities2,251,2332,136,6151,024,756493,801497,220 Current ratio3. 3. 33. 12. 72. 5 Property, plant and equipment, net2,856,4152,855,7172,818,3072,817,1352,932,058 Total assets7,893,0187,148,8456,140,3914,511,5774,394,944 Long-term debt922,300923,550923,550903,550894,550 Percentage of debt to capital15. 3 17. 0 20. 2 26. 1 25. 8 Stockholders’ equity4,857,3514,312,0493,481,2812,370,8732,349,770 Per share16. 1413. 9010. 917. 547. 51 Shares outstanding300,949310,220319,024314,361312,720 Employees11,90011,30010,6009,9009,800 Source: http://www. secinfo. com/d14D5a. u7c82. c. htm#1stPage