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Another analyst has downgraded U.S. Steel stock, which recently hit its lowest point since the import crisis in 2016.

Matthew Miller of New York City-based CFRA Research, downgraded the view on the Pittsburgh-based steelmaker's stock from "buy" to "hold." Miller also cut the 12-month price target for one of Northwest Indiana's largest employers by $3, to $17 a share.

“Although it appears that steel prices may be in the process of bottoming, we do not anticipate a strong recovery," he wrote in a note. "We think recent actions by the U.S. government to lift steel tariffs on Canada and Mexico could lead to a new surge in steel imports into the U.S., at a time when many steel companies are investing in new capacity."

CFRA Research lowered its earnings per share estimate for U.S. Steel, which is publicly traded under the symbol X, by $0.25 to $1.71 this year and by $0.41 to $1.74 in 2020.

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"Operationally, we are impressed with the progress that U.S. Steel is making," Miller wrote. "However, industry fundamentals are less attractive and U.S. Steel is at a disadvantage compared to minimills, given U.S. Steel large level of pension and other post-employment benefits liabilities, which we worry could become a drag on cash flow in upcoming years."

U.S. Steel stock opened at $14.65 a share on Wednesday, down from a recent peak of $45.39 a share in March of last year, when the 25% steel tariffs were anticipated but before they took effect.

The steelmaker's stock has traded for as little as $12.21 a share this year. The company has responded to the deteriorating market conditions by idling three blast furnaces, including one at its flagship Gary Works steel mill.


Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.