Don't let the title throw you -- just because I don't think Steel Dynamics (NASDAQ:STLD) had a go-go growth quarter, that doesn't mean that I've soured on this steelmaker. It was a tough quarter with difficult year-ago comps, but I still think this is a very well-run company that has some upsides.

All that said, reported results really weren't so dynamic. Sales dropped 5% in the quarter, though shipments increased 9%. Higher costs worked their nasty little mojo, and operating profits (and margins) fell from the year-ago period.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that the company still posted a very solid return on invested capital for both the quarter (annualized) and the fiscal year. Further good news includes the fact that free cash flow was quite strong, although capital expenditures are likely to rise in the next year. Last, and certainly not least, the company indicated that energy and materials costs seem to have stabilized and settled down for the time being.

Although it's tempting to think that "steel is steel," that's not always quite the case. Looking at Steel Dynamics, a fair bit of business comes from the construction market, and it would appear that non-residential construction is finally starting to perk up. Likewise, the company's flat roll operations are geared more toward high-quality specialty products, rather than the bulk output of a company like POSCO (NYSE:PKX).

Apart from overall economic growth, which should lead to steadily increasing demand for steel, Steel Dynamics should have the opportunity to gain more share with its specialty products. For instance, the company has been working on a new production process for rails that should allow it to seek business from Class 1 railroad operators like Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP), CSX (NYSE:CSX), and the like.

So while competitors like Nucor (NYSE:NUE) or even U.S. Steel (NYSE:X) shouldn't be dismissed out of hand, it's hard not to like a company that's focused on value-added products and generating a return on capital that's comfortably above its cost of capital. That's a formula for long-term success, and a big part of the reason I think Steel Dynamics' stock is still worth a look.

For more metal musings:

POSCO is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation.

Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).