“The nonresidential market is our second largest aggregates end use. During the third quarter, we continued to benefit, as we have for the past couple of years, from a significant level of aggregates product line shipments to the energy sector and other heavy industrial uses. Nonetheless, we also saw more traditional non-energy-related projects delayed during the third quarter. In general, many developers were hesitant to begin new projects due to an inability to accurately estimate their investment returns, including the cost of capital and changes in tax policy, in light of uncertainty surrounding the United States’ fiscal position. As a result, our overall heritage shipments to this end use market were relatively flat compared with the prior year. Our residential end-use market growth reflects an approximate 25% increase in year-to-date housing starts over the prior-year period and, as previously mentioned, heritage aggregates shipments increased 14% in the quarter. Finally, our ChemRock/Rail end-use market experienced a 14% decline in heritage shipments compared with the prior-year quarter. The reduction was principally due to the comparison with an unusually strong third quarter for ballast shipments in 2011, as well as a decline in coal traffic on the railroads.
“As previously indicated, economic growth was inconsistent across our markets. Aggregates shipment levels varied by geographic area, with notable strength in Texas, West Virginia and Charlotte, North Carolina. This relative robustness was offset by weakness in Ohio, where construction activity on major projects declined, and our West Group, which experienced reduced rail ballast shipments. This weakness led to declines of 2.6% and 2.3% in heritage aggregates product line shipments in the Mideast and West Groups, respectively. The Southeast Group reported a 10.7% decline in heritage aggregates shipments, as economic growth in this region continues to lag national trends, principally due to weak job growth and continued high foreclosure rates.
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