Optimism is Slowly Building


June 6, 2012


Optimism in the construction materials sector is beginning to increase, albeit at a slow pace. While it is not necessarily showing up in reported earnings, there appears to be a sentiment that things are improving. Both Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. and Cemex recently reported increased shipments and positive outlooks for the year.

While dramatic changes are not anticipated on a quarterly basis, the consensus is that 2012 will show modest improvement with additional optimism for 2013 and beyond. Balance sheet management continues to be front and center for companies like Cemex, Holcim, and Lafarge, as major debt service is due in the next two years.

The dynamic between buyers and sellers remains awkward. Sellers have been slow to accept the “new normal” and continue to reminisce about the good-old days of 2003-2007. Buyers have been trying to drive home their feelings that it is a buyers’ market. Now that optimism for the future is on the rise, many would-be sellers are holding out in the hope that the market will improve in the near future, while buyers continue to believe they are in a buyers’ market. This dynamic is, obviously, not helpful in the deal process.

Recent transactions

Luminart Corp., based in Stanley, N.D., acquired White Star Sand & Gravel LLC, based in Blaisdell, N.D. Luminart is involved in mining and processing materials for road building and expansion of base camps. The company also specializes in fluid management and focuses on the transportation of water and drilling fluids in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota.

Bonsal American, Inc. acquired the package products operations of TXI Operations LP for $46 million. Bonsal American acquired the Sakrete license for the state of Texas, the Maximizer brand of lightweight concrete mixes, and TXI’s pre-blended masonry business. The package products operations include five manufacturing facilities of packaged cement located in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and Austin, Texas. Bonsal, based in Charlotte, N.C., operates as a subsidiary of Oldcastle Architectural, Inc.

Lindy Paving, Inc. acquired four asphalt plants in western Pennsylvania from IA Construction Corp. The plants are located in West Pittsburgh, Zelienople, Homer City, and New Kensington. IA Construction Corp., based in Zelienople, Pa., is a subsidiary of Barrett Industries Corp., which is part of the Colas Group.

George H. Reddin is a principal in FMI’s Investment Banking practice. He can be reached at 919-785-9286 or at msilyo:greddin@fminet.com.

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