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Compass Minerals Reports Fourth-Quarter 2012 Earnings


Specialty fertilizer sales were $56.6 million, a 6 percent increase from the $53.6 million reported in the fourth quarter of 2011. This year-over-year growth was driven by a 6 percent improvement in sales volume partially offset by a 1 percent decline in average selling price.

Because of the poor 2011 solar-evaporation season at the Great Salt Lake, the company supplemented its solar-pond-based feedstock with purchased potassium-based mineral feedstock throughout 2012. These sourced minerals continued to elevate per-unit production costs in the fourth quarter and pressured operating earnings.
Specialty Fertilizer Segment Performance

(in millions except for sales volumes and prices per short ton)
  Three months ended

December 31,
  Twelve months ended

December 31,
2012   2011 2012   2011
Sales $ 56.6 $ 53.6 $ 226.2 $ 209.6
Sales less shipping and handling (product sales) $ 50.0 $ 47.7 $ 200.0 $ 184.3
Operating earnings $ 10.7 $ 19.6 $ 58.4 $ 77.0
Operating margin 19 % 37 % 26 % 37 %
Sales volume (in thousands of tons) 90 85 367 344
Average sales price (per ton)   $ 626     $ 631     $ 616     $ 610  


Selling, general and administrative expense includes transition costs of $3.3 million associated with the retirement of the company’s CEO. Interest expense in the quarter declined 12 percent to $4.5 million as a result of refinancing of the company’s long-term debt at a lower interest rate in the second quarter of 2012. Other income declined to $0.7 million from $1.5 million in the prior-year quarter primarily because of year-over-year differences in foreign exchange gains.

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