Gross margins for the nitrogen products manufacturing business were 31% for the three months ended December 31, 2012, compared to 41% for the same period last year due to the absorption of fixed costs on lower volumes resulting from plant outages in the fourth quarter of 2012, lower prices for most products at the East Dubuque Facility and the contribution of gross profits from the Pasadena Facility, which were lower gross margin sales than those from the East Dubuque Facility. Average natural gas costs in cost of sales for the East Dubuque Facility were $3.44 per MMBtu for the three months ended December 31, 2012, compared to $4.75 per MMBtu for the prior-year period. Average ammonia and sulfur costs in cost of sales for the Pasadena Facility were $658 per ton and $154 per ton, respectively, for the current period.
For the three months ended December 31, 2012, Rentech reported a consolidated net loss of $24.5 million, or $0.11 per basic share. Included in these results are $16.0 million of impairments and a $4.8 million loss for debt extinguishment expenses. Excluding these items, Rentech would have generated a net loss of $0.02 per basic share. This compares to a net loss of $8.5 million, or $0.04 per basic share, reported in the comparable period in the prior year. Excluding non-recurring items, the Company generated net income of $0.01 per share for the prior-year period.
Consolidated SG&A expenses were $14.4 million for the three months ended December 31, 2012, compared to $10.5 million for the comparable period in the prior year, comprised of $8.0 million for the alternative energy segment and $6.4 million for the nitrogen fertilizer business, compared to $7.2 million and $3.3 million, respectively, for the prior-year period. The increase in SG&A expenses for the alternative energy segment was partly attributable to an increase in non-cash compensation expense of $0.4 million. Cash SG&A expenses for the alternative energy segment increased by $0.4 million. The increase in SG&A expenses for the nitrogen products manufacturing business was primarily due to business development expenses of approximately $2.4 million, including $2.3 million related to the acquisition of the Pasadena Facility. In addition, non-cash unit-based compensation was approximately $0.4 million higher in the current period than in the prior-year period. Current period expenses also include $0.4 million in SG&A expenses at the Pasadena Facility. Partially offsetting the increase in SG&A expenses was a $1.1 million reduction in audit and tax fees which were higher in the prior-year period due to the additional audit and tax work required for the initial public offering (IPO) and change in fiscal year.
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