Martin Marietta reports record first-quarter earnings

Martin Marietta Materials reported record first-quarter earnings Thursday that handily beat Wall Street estimates and the Raleigh company also raised its guidance for 2016.

The company had net sales of $734 million, up 16 percent from the first quarter of 2015. The consensus among analysts who cover the company was sales of $649 million.

Earnings per share was 69 cents, well above the 34 cents forecast by analysts.

Martin Marietta shares rose $5.54, or 3 percent, to close Thursday at $175. The stock is up 28 percent this year.

Ward Nye, Martin Marietta’s CEO, said the strong year-over-year comparisons in the quarter were a reflection of the continued economic recovery in the industry, improvements that were somewhat masked in 2015 by historic levels of rainfall.

Martin Marietta produces rock, gravel and other materials used to build roads, subdivisions and commercial buildings.

Martin Marietta shipped 13 percent more materials in the first quarter compared with the same period a year ago. Pricing also increased 8 percent.

The company is benefiting from the ongoing housing recovery. Shipments of materials for residential projects increased 20 percent in the quarter and accounted for 18 percent of the company’s total sales.

Martin Marietta is now forecasting that the residential market will post double-digit growth in 2016, while nonresidential shipments will rise in the high-single digits and infrastructure shipments will increase in the mid-to-high single digit range.

David Bracken: 919-829-4548, @brackendavid