Shares of AK Steel Holding Corp. (AKS) enjoyed a huge boost following the election of President Donald Trump in 2016, but they have has swung wildly since then, and the overall trend has been negative, very negative. The near future isn’t looking much better either, as Goldman Sachs’ Matthew Korn cut his price target for the steelmaker and downgraded its shares from neutral to sell, saying the steelmaker has limited profitability potential even as the Trump administration presses for “aggressive tariffs on foreign steel,” according to CNBC.
The U.S. is threatening to impose tariffs on European steel, which American steelmakers support even though critics say it could spark damaging trade retaliation from Europe, says The Wall Street Journal.
Steel Stock Swings
Korn’s new price target is down from the previous $6 to $4, below the price the company’s shares were trading at in early November 2016, just prior to Trump’s electoral win. Following the election, those shares skyrocketed as much as 80% over the next six weeks before making a fairly steady decline ever since. As of 11 a.m. EST, AK Steel’s shares were trading at $4.64, down 18% on the year amid gyrations, and with another nearly 14% drop in store if Korn’s forecast is correct.
The recent gyrations in AK Steel’s shares have matched those occurring for other steel manufacturers, following the market’s interpretation of the nuances in trade talks, specifically the talks concerning tariffs on steel imports. The White House’s decision in early May to push back the tariff deadline, for example, sent other steel stocks, like those of United States Steel Corp. (X) and Nucor Corp. (NUE), tumbling. (See also: Trade Uncertainty Already Hurting US Companies).
'Weaker than Expected'
While Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reassured last week that steel and aluminum tariffs on China “will remain enforced,” AK Steel has its own set of internal problems weighing down its stock price. Korn argues that quarterly guidance on pricing and profits from the steelmaker were weaker than expected, stating, “with our updated estimates reflecting lower forecasts for realized pricing and profitability, the risk/reward for AK Steel looks unfavorable,” according to CNBC.
Despite the negative outlook for AK Steel, Korn is optimistic about other steelmakers with a buy rating on Nucor, Steel Dynamics Inc. (STLD) and Stelco Holdings Inc. (STLC), arguing that these companies “offer a clearer path toward growth and expanded profitability,” according to Barron’s. (See also: Have Metals Stocks Topped Out?).