Minerals Technologies Inc. ( NYSE: MTX) today reported net income of $15.8 million, or $0.86 per share for the first quarter 2011, compared with $15.4 million, or $0.82 per share in the first quarter of 2010. Excluding special items, earnings per share were $0.87 compared with $0.85 per share in the first quarter of 2010. “We began 2011 with solid financial results that reflect the strong operating track that we have been on,” said Joseph C. Muscari, chairman and chief executive officer. “We continue to focus on profitable organic growth, reducing costs and improving productivity, initiatives that have resulted in moving Minerals Technologies to a higher level of performance.” First QuarterYear-Over-Year Comparison The company's first quarter net income of $15.8 million, or $0.86 per share, increased 3 percent from the $15.4 million, or $0.82 per share, recorded in the first quarter of 2010. Earnings per share, excluding special items, were $0.87 compared to $0.85 per share in the prior year, a 2-percent improvement. The increased earnings were primarily attributable to volume growth related to improvements in the company’s end markets, particularly in the steel and automotive industries, and productivity improvements in all businesses. The company’s first quarter worldwide sales of $262.5 million increased 4 percent over the $253.5 million in the same period in 2010. Foreign exchange had a favorable impact on sales of approximately $1.9 million or less than 1 percentage point of growth. Operating income, excluding special items, was $24.9 million, a 4-percent increase over the $23.9 million recorded in the prior year’s first quarter. As reported, the company recorded income from operations of $24.7 million compared with $23.1 million in the same period in the prior year. First quarter worldwide sales for the Specialty Minerals segment, which consists of precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC) and Processed Minerals, increased 1 percent to $173.3 million from the $172.1 million recorded in the first quarter of last year. Income from operations of $19.7 million, excluding special items, increased 3 percent from the $19.2 million recorded in the same period in 2010.