Q1 sales were really down, more than I expected. ($ 309 million). Almost all of the decline was in Salt. I think earnings were fine, but they were way below the estimates of whatever analysts follow the company, including Value Line. $ 1.85 versus somewhere around $ 2.25 or $ 2.30 estimates.
And the forecast for the rst of the year doesn't sound too hopeful, either.
I need to remind myself that this is a $ 50 stock, and the numbers support this price (in my opinion), but I don't think people will be real happy tomorrow.
The stock price hasn't dropped anywhere near as much as I feared. The call went well, but the truth is that they simply don't know when things will turn. The ag side - they say farmers can only put off fertilizing for so long and then they will start buying fertilizer again. They say they will keep their prices high until they start losing share to MOP, but they don't really know (my take) how much decreased demand they will have to suffer until that happens. They're going to complete the salt expansion in the midwest, but not increase production if prices fall. They say all the right things (and I really was impressed, for whatever that might be worth), and I guess I'll hold on. But things will get worse before they get better.
I'm not going to listen to the call until later, but the real question for me is whether the decline in salt sales is 100% caused by the mild winter, or if municipalities have figured out how to be a bit more prudent in their use, given the fiscal conditions they face. That could be a more significant issue... That said, CMP makes more sense to me as a long-term investment than just about anything I can find...
If by "interesting" you mean destructive to my stock position, I think you're right.
I know that CMP warned of lower revenue, and predicted higher margins when they announced the earnings release date, but the miss on revenue was tremendous. I thought sales would come through because (at least from what I saw), this past winter was pretty messy, and I expected salt sales to drop maybe 10 - 15% from Q1 of 2008. I don't know if people were stockpiling salt, which would have benefitted Q4, or if they just used less. I'm just hoping that enough negative anticipation was built into the price that tomorrow won't be a disaster.
I wasn't expecting much on the fertilizer side, based on other ag companies' releases, and I wasn't surprised. The margin on the ag side was unbelievable (I mean good).
Keep in mind that these results, though mildly disappointing, should not surprise anyone. The CEO warned of these results in a PR dated 4/14, dropping the PPS since then to around 50 and below. I'm guessing Q1 results will have very little further downward impact on the PPS - maybe for a week or two, but that's all. By this time next year it's reasonable to expect the PPS to be in the 70s.
I agree with your comments about the weak quarter. The only real surprise was the weaker salt diecing. Everybody expected weak potash sales after Mosaic and Potash. Overall CMP was able to increase earnings q/q. Not bad in this environment.
One positive note on the quarter was strong pricing in both segments. I am not sure why sop pricing has held up so well given the extreme demand destruction. Could be because the major players like Potash and Mosaic are dramatically cutting production to support prices. I remember a quote from Potash's CEO who said that they will do whatever it takes to keep prices high and that they will not cut prices to boost demand.
I think numbers would have come roughly in line if there had been more severe weather during the quarter.