Vulcan Materials Co. announced results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2017. Net earnings were $45 million and Adjusted EBITDA was $149 million. The company’s first quarter results “reflect solid price growth in aggregates, the continuing recovery in construction materials demand and strong profitability in its Concrete and Asphalt segments,” according to the company.
Tom Hill, chairman and chief executive officer, said, “These results mark a good start to the year. Aggregates shipments declined 2 percent, but effectively matched last year’s very strong first quarter pace when excluding the impact of weather disruptions on our shipments in California. Aggregates pricing increased 5 percent, consistent with full year expectations, and a good indication of the market’s visibility to further demand recovery. Solid operational execution by our management teams led to record trailing-twelve-month unit profitability for a first quarter and helped offset $14 million of timing-related incremental costs which included the effects of higher unit cost of diesel fuel, increased stripping expense in anticipation of growing demand, and costs related to flooding in California. The four acquisitions we’ve closed since January, and our overall rate of reinvestment in the business, tie to our confidence in both improving market conditions and the quality of our internal execution. We remain focused on continuous, compounding improvements in profitability and cash flows, and expect them to continue in 2017 and for years to come.”
For the quarter:
- Total revenues increased $33 million, or 4 percent, to $787 million.
- Gross profit decreased $5 million, or 3 percent, to $160 million.
- Aggregates segment sales increased $15 million, or 2 percent, to $650 million, and aggregates freight-adjusted revenues increased $10 million, or 2 percent, to $497 million.
- Shipments decreased 2 percent, or 1.0 million tons, to 38.2 million tons.
- Freight-adjusted sales price increased 5 percent, or $0.57 per ton.
- Segment gross profit decreased $8 million, or 6 percent, to $140 million.
- Asphalt, Concrete and Calcium gross profit improved $3.5 million, or 21 percent, collectively.
- SAG was $82 million versus $76 million in the prior year.
- Net earnings were $45 million, an increase of $5 million, or 12 percent.
Excluding California markets adversely affected by record rainfall, overall shipments approximated the prior year’s exceptionally strong first quarter. California’s wet weather and flooding halted construction activity and impaired shipments in January and February. Daily shipping rates for aggregates in each of these two months declined more than 20 percent versus the prior year. In March, as job site conditions improved, California daily shipping rates recovered accordingly. California’s passage of a long-term transportation bill resolved Caltrans’ funding uncertainty and should, along with other factors, support sustained shipping rate improvements. Demand continues to recover across its Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern markets, with most operations experiencing solid shipment growth even against last year’s strong comparison.
Trailing 12-month construction start activity, both public and private, has steadily improved since July. The backlog of construction projects in development continues to grow across key states. In addition, state and local governments continue to pass measures to increase public infrastructure investment significantly, and a number of projects supported by FAST Act funding have moved further toward the active construction stage. The company continues to expect full-year shipment growth of between 5 and 8 percent, with the ultimate result dependent on the timing of shipments to new, larger public transportation projects.
For the quarter, freight-adjusted average sales price for aggregates increased 5 percent, or $0.57 per ton, versus the prior year despite a modest negative mix impact. The overall pricing climate remains favorable as visibility to a sustained recovery improves and as construction materials producers stay focused on earning adequate returns on capital. California and Georgia each experienced price growth of more than 10 percent, again supported by clear and improving visibility to sustained demand growth. Substantially all of the company’s markets realized price growth in the first quarter.
First quarter Aggregates segment gross profit declined $8 million, or 6 percent, to $140 million, or $3.66 per ton. Segment results in the quarter were negatively impacted by a 35 percent increase in the unit cost of diesel fuel, flood-related costs in California, increased stripping expenses and costs related to the transition to two new, more efficient ships to transport aggregates from its quarry in Mexico. In total, these items negatively impacted segment gross profit by $14 million in comparison to the prior year. Despite the timing of these costs, trailing 12-month cash gross profit reached a record level for the first quarter.
Asphalt, Concrete and Calcium
For its non-aggregates segments in total, first quarter gross profit was $20 million, a 21 percent increase over the prior year’s period. Solid demand growth in its northern Virginia market led to strong growth in concrete shipments and segment earnings. In its Asphalt segment, results were negatively impacted by severe wet weather and flooding conditions in California.
Asphalt segment gross profit decreased $3.6 million to $8.6 million. Shipments increased 5 percent as incremental shipments from acquisitions offset weather-related decreases in California, the company’s largest asphalt market. However, segment profits declined due to modestly lower material margins and acquisition-related costs.
Concrete segment gross profit was $10 million in the quarter compared to $3 million in the prior year period. Shipments increased 22 percent versus the prior year as volumes increased in each of the company’s concrete markets, particularly Virginia, the company’s largest concrete market. Material margins in concrete also improved versus the prior year.
In the first quarter, the Calcium segment reported gross profit of $0.7 million versus $0.6 million in the prior year.
On a trailing 12-month basis, total gross profit in its non-aggregates segments was $131 million, a 21 percent increase from the prior year’s comparable period.
The company noted that it remains active in the pursuit of bolt-on acquisitions and other value-creating growth investments. Since January, the company has closed four acquisitions totaling $198 million. These acquisitions complement its leading aggregates positions in certain California, New Mexico and Tennessee markets.