“Interest expense is expected to remain relatively flat. Our effective tax rate is expected to approximate 26%, excluding discrete events. Capital expenditures are forecast at $155 million.”
RISKS TO OUTLOOK
The 2013 outlook includes 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. While both the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21 st Century Act, or MAP-21, and TIFIA credit assistance are excluded from the federal budget sequester and the U.S. debt ceiling limit, the ultimate resolution of these issues may have a significant impact on the economy and, consequently, construction activity. The Federal sequester that went into effect in March did not appear to have a significant impact on the broader economy in the first half of the year. While transportation investment is mostly exempt from spending cuts, the impact of sequester may become more apparent during the second half of the year. 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; 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 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. If these negatively affect transportation budgets more than in the past, construction spending could be reduced. North Carolina, a state that disproportionately affects the Corporation’s revenue and profitability, is among the states experiencing these fiscal pressures, although recent statistics indicate that transportation and tax revenues are increasing. The Specialty Products business essentially runs at capacity; therefore any unplanned changes in costs or realignment of customers introduce volatility to the earnings of this segment.
The Corporation’s principal business serves customers in aggregates-related construction markets. This concentration could increase the risk of potential losses on customer receivables; however, payment bonds normally posted on public projects, together with lien rights on private projects, help to mitigate the risk of uncollectible receivables. The level of aggregates demand in the Corporation’s end-use markets, production levels and the management of production costs will affect the operating leverage of the Aggregates business and, therefore, profitability. Production costs in the Aggregates business are also sensitive to energy prices, both directly and indirectly. Diesel fuel and other consumables change production costs directly through consumption or indirectly by increased energy-related input costs, such as steel, explosives, tires and conveyor belts. Fluctuating diesel fuel pricing also affects transportation costs, primarily through fuel surcharges in the Corporation’s long-haul distribution network. The Specialty Products business is sensitive to changes in domestic steel capacity utilization and the absolute price and fluctuations in the cost of natural gas.