Nucor Corp. plans to boost production to more than 20 million tons in the coming years through acquisitions and greenfield plant projects, Chief Executive Officer Daniel DiMicco has said. As the steel industry plumbs the bottom of its current business cycle, Nucor, which generated USD 800 million cash from operations last year and has debt at a low 16% of capital, has the financial firepower to forge acquisitions that would boost market share and profitability. The steel industry is in the midst of a shake-out, with 20 producers filing bankruptcy in the past two years and prices under intense pressure from a flood of imports, which the industry claims have been dumped illegally on the US market. Three steel makers, including Nucor, were profitable in the first quarter of 2001, but Nucor saw earnings drop from 55 to 42 cents a share. Even as steel prices fell 17%, Nucor set new records for production, shipments and outside sales.