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„SALT BUSINESS SUMMARY (segment financial results tables located at end of press release)
First-quarter salt segment revenue rose 15 percent, or $41.1 million, from prior-year first-quarter results to $315.9 million, due to a 22 percent increase in highway deicing revenue offset partially by a 2 percent decline in consumer and industrial revenue. A strong winter in the U.K. and a return to more typical winter weather in North America pushed sales volumes of highway deicing products up 22 percent from prior-year results, while average selling prices for these products were essentially unchanged from first-quarter 2017 results. Consumer and industrial revenue was negatively impacted by lower sales volumes, partially offset by improved average selling prices.
Salt segment operating earnings totaled $34.1 million, compared to $45.4 million in the first quarter of 2017. Earnings for this segment were pressured by increased logistics costs as well as higher-cost carryover inventory produced last year and sold in the first quarter of 2018. Approximately $20 million in increased logistic and production costs primarily resulted from the ceiling fall incident at the Goderich mine last year, which led the company to use rock salt from its Louisiana mine to serve customers in the Great Lakes region in the first quarter.
Winter Weather Effect
Winter weather events in the first quarter in North America were approximately 11 percent above the 10-year average; however, due to the geographic focus of winter weather this year, our sales benefited only modestly. As a result, we are reporting a moderate benefit from winter for the first quarter and the full 2017-2018 winter season impact was negligible.“
„With snow events in our served markets in North America continuing into April and strong demand in the U.K., the company expects second-quarter 2018 salt revenue to increase from prior-year results. Anticipated improvements in mining rates are expected to drive better margin performance going forward. In addition, we anticipate the increase in winter weather in the 2017-2018 season is likely to result in favorable market dynamics for salt producers in the upcoming North American highway deicing bid season.“