The stock of metal recycler Schnitzer Steel (NASDAQ:SCHN) has sold off since March in anticipation of pretty much exactly what happened in the most recent quarter. With margin pressures and lower selling prices, Schnitzer saw growth in revenue but not in earnings.

Sales climbed by 17% in the quarter as every major operating line saw revenue growth. Recycling experienced top-line growth of about 9%, while auto parts grew by 33% and steel manufacturing by 27%.

Operating income, though, fell by about 18%. The recycling business saw a 15% drop in operating income, while the auto-parts business was flat and the steel business grew by 93%. The big drop, though, came from the company's joint ventures, where operating income plummeted by 60%. While the company's joint ventures saw a 35% increase in trading volume, the processing side of the business saw a 25% decline in sales volumes and severely compressed margins.

As announced early in June, Schnitzer and scrap specialist Hugo Neu are going to be unwinding their joint ventures. In addition to getting $52 million in cash, Schnitzer will take full ownership of operations in New England, a Hawaiian scrap-metal and green waste-recycling business, and the Russian and Baltic scrap-metal-trading business. Hugo Neu will get the New York, New Jersey, and California operations and the scrap-trading business abroad outside Russia and the Baltics.

For the rest of the business, there weren't a lot of surprises. The company sold more scrap but did so at a lower price. If there was a surprise, it was in the strong performance of the company's steel-manufacturing business. Not only did sales volume jump 38% sequentially, but also sequential pricing stayed pretty strong ($510/ton versus $517/ton) vis-a-vis the broader market.

So, with a trailing P/E of 5, is Schnitzer a great buy? Honestly, I don't really know. I think Schnitzer is a good recycling company and that the auto-parts and steel-manufacturing businesses both hold promise. But I also know that market trends in metals are chaotic right now and especially so in the scrap/recycling side of the business.

Can Schnitzer grow at a rate of more than 5% over the next 10 years? Yes, I think so. But those intervening years could feature a lot of nerve-racking highs and lows that many investors could just as well do without.

I might be more interested in the likes of CVRD (NYSE:RIO), Rio Tinto (NYSE:RTP), or copper companies these days, but I don't doubt that Schnitzer, as a company, has staying power. This stock isn't right for everybody, but I'm not going to pull a shroud over it, either.

More metal Takes await:

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned.