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Martin Marietta (MLM) Tops Q1 Earnings & Sales Estimates

Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. MLM announced impressive first-quarter 2016 results, which drove shares over 3% during pre-market trading on May 5.

Earning Beat

First-quarter adjusted earnings per share of 69 cents surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 31 cents by a whopping 122.6%. Earnings rose from 7 cents in the prior year quarter. 


Martin Marietta had performed below expectations in 2015 due to unfavorable weather conditions as well as a downturn in the energy sector, which offset the underlying momentum in the construction market.

Nevertheless, the company has issued an optimistic outlook for 2016, as it expects to capitalize on improving market conditions across majority of the construction business. First quarter 2016 results benefitted from slow but steady job growth, double-digit increase in aggregate volume, solid price increases, and improved profitability across aggregates-related downstream businesses and Cement business.

Sales Boost

Net sales of $734.0 million surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $639 million by almost 15%. Net sales also increased 16.2% year over year, owing to double-digit increase in volume of aggregate and cement and increase in prices.

In the reported quarter, heritage sales were $728.7 million, while acquired operations added $5.3 million to net sales.

Total revenue (including freight and delivery) was $788.8 million, up 14% from the year-ago period. Freight and delivery revenues were $54.8 million, down 8% year over year.

Segment Discussion

Aggregates: The segment produces, processes and sells aggregates like crushed stone, sand and gravel. The segment also includes Martin Marietta’s vertically-integrated operations, i.e., asphalt products, ready mixed concrete and road paving construction services.

Aggregates business’ net sales (including vertically-integrated operations) grew 26.9% to $604.6 million on the back of strong volume and margin.

Shipments (volume) in the aggregates product line rose 13.3%,  comparing favorably with  1.7% growth last quarter, as the segment reported strong demand in all end-use market. Geographically, Mid-America Group reported the highest increase in aggregate volume of 27.8% during the quarter. Price per ton increased 8.1%.

Heritage aggregates sales (including vertically-integrated operations) were $599.3 million, up 25.8% year over year. However acquired operations hurt net sales by $1.3 million.

Heritage aggregates product line volume rose 12.8%, while pricing increased 8.1%. Shipments growth was led by the Mid-America Group. The strongest pricing growth was seen in the West Group.

The acquired aggregates product line (excluding vertically-integrated operations) reported net sales of $2.4 million, while heritage aggregates business added $404.1 million.

The heritage ready mixed concrete product line’s sales of $184.1 million went up 44.3%. The acquired ready mixed concrete operations accounted for $2.7 million of net sales.

The Cement segment was formed after the TXI acquisition in Jul 2014. Martin Marietta divested its California cement business acquired from TXI in 2015. The segment recorded net sales of $69.9 million in the quarter, almost a 27.6% slump. Average selling price was up 3.6% and volume increased 13.8%. The segment benefitted from strong demand and favorable weather in the Texas market, which also reported excess demand compared to the local supply.

Magnesia Specialties segment which includes magnesium oxide, magnesium hydroxide and dolomite lime products increased 1.2% year over year to $59.5 million.  

Margins Rise

Total adjusted gross margin (excluding freight and delivery revenues) increased 790 basis points (bps) to 19.7% driven by higher margins in aggregates and cement. Aggregates consolidated gross margin grew 730 bps to 15.4%.

2016 Outlook

Management seems quite optimistic about witnessing growth in underlying demand and strong pricing in 2016. An improving economy and job growth are expected to boost private construction activity in the U.S. In the non-residential construction market, management expects shipments to increase in both light and heavy construction sectors. The company partly raised its 2016 guidance.

Net sales are expected in a range of $3.5 billion to $3.7 billion. Consolidated EBITDA is likely to range within $1.00 billion to $1.05 billion, higher than the prior expected range of $930 million to $980 million.

Aggregates business’ net sales (excluding downstream business) are expected in a range of $1.95–$2.05 billion. Aggregates product line volume is expected to increase within 6%-8%, higher than the prior expected range 5%–7%. Aggregates product line pricing is likely to increase 6% to 8%. Aggregates product line production cost per ton is likely to be within $7.35–$7.50.

Martin Marietta carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Stocks to Consider

Some better-ranked stocks in the construction sector are Vulcan Materials Company VMC Masco Corporation MAS, and Headwaters Incorporated HW. While Headwaters sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Vulcan Materials and Masco have a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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MASCO (MAS): Free Stock Analysis Report
HEADWATERS INC (HW): Free Stock Analysis Report
VULCAN MATLS CO (VMC): Free Stock Analysis Report
MARTIN MRT-MATL (MLM): Free Stock Analysis Report
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