These results demonstrate the real underlying growth of our salt segment operating earnings, which we can attribute to the improvements we’ve made in pro forma per-unit salt costs. Rod will discuss the impact of the tornado on our results in just a few moments.
Now, unfortunately, the reality is that the impact of the mild winter isn’t fully behind us yet. It’s likely that bid volumes will be lower this year, though it’s hard to know how much lower. The reference points I can give you are that after a very mild 2009-2010 winter, bid volumes were down 3%, while after the very mild 1999-2000 winter, bid volumes were down 4%.
The bottom line is that our customers probably have more inventory than they normally do at this time of the year. We know from history that most customers can only hold a small percentage of their full season’s requirements at any time. Each customer is different, though, and there isn’t any accurate way to get a good sense of how much salt customers are holding in aggregate, so we won’t know what the actual impact is on bid volumes until we receive a representative sample of bids, and that won’t happen until around mid to late June. We’ll update you as we know more.
For those customers who have typical min/max supply contracts but didn’t meet their bid minimum take requirements, we’ve been attempting to negotiate new agreements that would allow the unmet contract volume commitment to roll over into the upcoming winter season commitment, extend the deadline for physically taking last season’s salt, and to provide for a reasonable price increase.For some other customers who have taken or are taking the minimum orders, but not enough to materially affect our second quarter highway deicing sales volumes, and some contracts don’t expire for a while, so we haven’t had meaningful conversations with them yet.
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