Vulcan Materials Co. announced results for the second quarter ending June 30. Net sales increased $60 million, or 9 percent, and gross profit increased $42 million, or 32 percent, compared with the prior year.
Tom Hill, president and chief executive officer, said, “Our second quarter results further demonstrate the earnings leverage of volume growth in our aggregates business, and our continuing improvements to margins and unit profitability. A 10 percent increase in aggregates volume helped drive a 27 percent increase in Aggregates segment gross profit. Cash gross profit per ton increased to $5.00, an 8 percent increase from the prior year's second quarter and a record level of unit profitability for this segment. Across all of our businesses, gross profit as a percent of net sales increased 400 basis points.
“We continue to experience accelerating demand recovery in most of our markets. Our aggregates shipments have increased year-over-year for five consecutive quarters, and the markets Vulcan serves should continue to grow faster than U.S. markets as a whole. We now expect our full year 2014 aggregates shipments to be 7 to 9 percent higher than the prior year, as compared to our prior estimate of a 4 to 7 percent increase,” Hill said.
Aggregates segment revenues were $596 million compared to $508 million in the prior year’s second quarter. These revenues include sales generated from producing and selling aggregates tons as well as revenues from aggregates distribution, delivery and other services, including truck brokerage services. The gross profit margin on growth in revenue associated with producing and selling aggregates tons was in line with the company’s expectations. Also as expected, revenue growth from transportation-related activities contributed to earnings but at a lower margin percentage.
Aggregates shipments increased 10 percent compared to the prior year, with key markets including Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia reporting more than 15 percent volume growth and Florida and Southern California realizing 11 and 12 percent growth, respectively.
Freight-adjusted pricing for aggregates increased 3 percent, or $0.33 per ton, versus the prior year's second quarter as virtually all markets realized price improvement. This widespread price improvement, combined with reductions in production costs shipped, drove a $0.49 per ton, or 15 percent, increase in the gross profit. As a percent of segment revenues, the gross profit margin in the Aggregates segment improved 210 basis points over the prior year’s second quarter. Aggregates segment gross profit was $162 million, an increase of $35 million, or 27 percent, versus the prior year's second quarter.
Overall, gross profit from the non-aggregates segments improved $7 million versus the prior year. Earnings improvement in the Concrete segment drove the majority of this gain: Concrete gross profit was $3 million compared to a loss of $6 million in the second quarter of the prior year. Last year's second quarter results included the company's Florida concrete business that was sold in the first quarter of 2014.
Asphalt gross profit was $9 million, in line with the prior year's second quarter. Asphalt volume increased 3 percent and materials margin improved slightly versus the prior year due mostly to lower costs for liquid asphalt. Operating costs, primarily energy-related, were slightly higher than the prior year.
The company's cement business was also sold in the first quarter along with the Florida concrete assets. However, Vulcan retained its calcium products business that is included in its Cement segment. This business reported second quarter revenues of $2.2 million and gross profit of $0.8 million, both slightly better than the prior year.
Regarding the company's outlook, Hill stated, “Growth in the private end markets continues to drive increased construction activity and demand for our products. Leading indicators, such as housing starts, nonresidential contract awards and employment, continue to show favorable above-average growth trends in Vulcan-served markets. These factors underpin our full year aggregates shipment forecast of a 7 to 9 percent increase in 2014. This volume growth, coupled with the continuing improvement in unit profitability, supports our expectations for strong earnings leverage and margin expansion – and we remain focused on achieving these expectations.
“We are maintaining our outlook for full year freight-adjusted aggregates pricing to improve 3 to 5 percent from the prior year. The overall pricing outlook for our aggregates products continues to improve with the recovery in demand for construction materials. As we look ahead to the second half of the year, we expect continuing margin improvement driven by price growth, operating leverage and other cost controls.
“Our confidence in a sustained multi-year recovery in aggregates demand continues to grow. Our markets are recovering off trough levels of demand and are outpacing the rest of the U.S. To support the anticipated increased level of shipments, and to further improve our production costs and operating efficiencies, we now project capital spending for 2014 to be approximately $240 million.
“Our second quarter and first half results demonstrate the broadening recovery of our markets and the benefits of the Company's powerful earnings leverage. Comparing the first half of 2014 to the first half of 2013, Adjusted EBITDA grew $45 million, or 27 percent, on a 9 percent increase in net sales. We expect to continue to deliver strong gains in earnings because of increasing demand in Vulcan-served markets,” Hill said.