This was compared to prior year first quarter earnings of $0.26 per diluted share and sequential fourth quarter 2016 earnings of $0.08 per share, which included non-cash goodwill and asset impairment charges of $0.31 per diluted share and debt refinancing and repayment charges of $0.04 per diluted share.
Excluding these items, the company's adjusted fourth quarter 2016 earnings were $0.43 per diluted share.
First quarter 2017 profitability from the company's steel operations is expected to meaningfully increase in comparison to sequential fourth quarter 2016 results, based on both higher shipments and metal spread expansion.
First quarter 2017 average steel product pricing is expected to increase, more than offsetting the additional expense derived from higher ferrous scrap costs.
The anticipated higher earnings are driven by the company's flat roll operations, as demand remains strong and customer inventory levels continue to be positioned at historically low levels.
First quarter 2017 profitably for the company's metals recycling platform is also expected to improve compared to the sequential fourth quarter, based on higher ferrous scrap demand and metal spread expansion from increased domestic steel mill utilization.
In what is typically a seasonally lower demand timeframe, strong demand for the company's fabricated steel joist and deck products is an indicator that the non-residential construction market is continuing a positive growth trend.
First quarter 2017 earnings from the company's fabrication business are expected to improve based on increased shipments, which are anticipated to more than offset metal spread compression.
The board has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.1550 per common share, an 11% increase over the company's 2016 quarterly rate.
The dividend is payable to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 31, 2017, and is payable on or about April 10, 2017. ■
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