“Earnings for the Specialty Products segment should be approximately $68 million to $70 million. Steel utilization and natural gas prices are two key factors for this segment.
“SG&A expenses, excluding the incremental expense related to the Denver operations and costs related to our information systems upgrade, are expected to decline slightly. We expect improvement in SG&A expenses related to the Denver operations as we fully complete their integration. Interest expense should decrease approximately $5 million compared with 2011. Our effective tax rate is expected to approximate 23%, excluding discrete events. Capital expenditures are forecast at $155 million.
“We have started framing a preliminary 2013 outlook for our end-use markets. We currently expect shipments to the infrastructure end-use market to increase in the mid-single digits, driven by the impact of MAP-21, TIFIA and state-sponsored programs. We anticipate our nonresidential end-use market to increase in the high-single digits. We believe the recent positive trend in housing starts will continue and our residential end-use market will experience double-digit volume growth. Finally, we expect our ChemRock/Rail end-use market to be flat compared with 2012. We will provide further guidance on our 2013 outlook in our year-end earnings release.”
RISKS TO OUTLOOKThe full-year 2012 outlook and preliminary 2013 outlook for the Corporation’s end-use markets include management’s assessment of the likelihood of certain risk factors that will affect performance. The most significant risk to the Corporation’s performance will be the United States economy and its impact on construction activity. The resolution of the fiscal cliff and whether tax increases and spending cuts take effect may have a significant impact on the economy and, consequently, construction activity. Other risks related to the Corporation’s future performance include, but are not limited to, both price and volume and include a recurrence of widespread decline in aggregates volume negatively affecting aggregates price; the termination, capping and/or reduction of the federal and/or state gasoline tax(es) or other revenue related to infrastructure construction; a significant change in the funding patterns for traditional federal, state and/or local infrastructure projects; a reduction in defense spending, and the subsequent impact on construction activity on or near military bases, particularly if sequestration of budget programs occurs; a decline in nonresidential construction, a decline in energy-related drilling activity resulting from certain regulatory or economic factors, a slowdown in the residential construction recovery, or some combination thereof; and a continued reduction in ChemRock/Rail shipments resulting from declining coal traffic on the railroads. Further, increased highway construction funding pressures resulting from either federal or state issues can affect profitability. Currently, nearly all states have general fund budget issues driven by lower tax revenues. If these negatively affect transportation budgets more than in the past, construction spending could be reduced. North Carolina and Texas, states disproportionately affecting the Corporation’s revenue and profitability, are among the states experiencing these fiscal pressures, although recent statistics indicate that transportation budgets and tax revenues are increasing.