The more I watch North Carolinian steelmaker Nucor (NYSE:NUE), the more the company grows on me. Sure, I think the U.S. steelmaking industry is headed for a fall. And yes, Nucor is a major player in the industry and likely to suffer from the coming oversupply in steel in its own right. And to suffer further from the drowning-man-using-other-drowning-man-as-life-raft tendencies of companies selling commodity goods, the prices of which are falling. (Think here of the telecom industry, with its Verizons (NYSE:VZ), AT&Ts (NYSE:T), and MCIs (NASDAQ:MCIP) all frantically underbidding each other for your long-distance business. Or consider the auto industry, with its GMs (NYSE:GM), Fords (NYSE:F), and Chryslers (NYSE:DCX) offering to pay you to buy their wares.)

But while I'm bearish on the steel industry, I'm bullish on Nucor as an investment for one reason above all others: Nucor treats its shareholders right. Case in point: On Thursday, the company announced that in the midst of this record earnings season for steelmakers, it is going to share the wealth with its owners by splitting its stock. (Yeah, I know that splitting a stock doesn't affect a company's value one whit, but try and explain that to the day traders.) Nucor also increased the size of its dividend by a whopping 24%.

What's more, treating shareholders like what they are -- owners -- is nothing new for Nucor. The company has increased its dividend every year for three decades running now, and the increase announced yesterday is actually the second time the company has hiked dividends this year. That's the kind of shareholder-friendly action we love to see. And it's enough to convince this humble Fool that, whatever happens to the steel industry as a whole, an investor can trust Nucor to defend its shareholders' interests.

Nucor has been posting strong numbers for months now. Get some Foolish perspective on the company's long-term performance from the following articles:

Fool contributor Rich Smith has no interest in any of the companies mentioned in this article.