Minerals Technologies Inc. ( NYSE: MTX) today reported second quarter diluted earnings per common share of $1.01 compared with $0.82 per share in the first quarter of 2010, a 23-percent increase. Excluding special items, earnings were $0.98 per share compared with $0.85 per share in the first quarter, a 15-percent increase. "Our second quarter results showed significant sequential improvement for the fourth straight quarter, and brings us back to pre-recession levels of profitability,” said Joseph C. Muscari, chairman and chief executive officer. “The primary drivers for the improved profitability were the Performance Minerals and Refractories businesses, which have reflected volume growth and improved productivity levels from the first quarter. These businesses also reflected significant turnarounds in operating performance from the prior year when the underlying markets were operating under depressed market conditions. We also recently announced the signing of an agreement to construct a satellite precipitated calcium carbonate facility to supply Ballarpur Industries’ Sewa unit in India.” SECOND QUARTER EARNINGSComparisons to First Quarter 2010 Worldwide sales in the quarter increased 1 percent to $255.8 million from $253.5 million in the previous quarter. Foreign exchange had an unfavorable impact on sales of approximately $4.0 million, or 2 percentage points. Operating income was $27.5 million, a 15-percent increase over the $23.9 million reported in the first quarter of 2010, excluding special items, and 19 percent over the $23.0 million operating income, as reported, in the first quarter. Return on Capital for the second quarter was 9.2 percent on an annualized basis compared to 8.1 percent for the prior quarter. In the second quarter, sales in the Specialty Minerals segment, which includes the PCC and Processed Minerals product lines, decreased 2 percent to $168.2 million from $172.1 million in the prior quarter. Operating income, excluding special items, for the second quarter of 2010 was $19.0 million, a 1-percent decline from the $19.2 million reported in the first quarter. Income from operations, as reported, was $19.3 million, 5 percent over the $18.4 million reported in the prior quarter.