Other risks related to the Corporation's future performance include, but are not limited to: both price and volume and include a recurrence of widespread decline in aggregates pricing; a greater-than-expected decline in infrastructure construction as a result of continued delays in traditional federal, ARRA, state and/or local infrastructure projects and continued lack of clarity regarding the timing and amount of the federal highway bill; a decline in nonresidential construction; a slowdown in the residential construction recovery; or some combination thereof. Further, increased highway construction funding pressures resulting from either federal or state issues can affect profitability. Currently, nearly all states are experiencing some funding-level pressures driven by lower tax revenues. If these pressures reduce transportation budgets more than in the past, construction spending could be negatively affected. North Carolina and Texas are among the states experiencing these general pressures, although recent statistics indicate that tax revenues are increasing; these states disproportionately affect our revenue and profitability.
The Corporation's principal business serves customers in construction aggregates-related markets. This concentration could increase the risk of potential losses on customer receivables; however, payment bonds normally posted on public projects, together with lien rights on private projects, help to mitigate the risk of uncollectible receivables. The level of aggregates demand in the Corporation's end-use markets, production levels and the management of production costs will affect the operating leverage of the Aggregates business and, therefore, profitability. Production costs in the Aggregates business are also sensitive to energy prices, both directly and indirectly. Diesel and other fuels change production costs directly through consumption or indirectly in the increased cost of energy-related consumables, such as, steel, explosives, tires and conveyor belts. Fluctuating diesel pricing also affects transportation costs, primarily through fuel surcharges in the Corporation's long-haul distribution network.
Transportation in the Corporation's long-haul network, particularly barge availability on the Mississippi River system as well as rail cars and locomotive power to move trains, affects the Corporation's ability to efficiently transport material into certain markets, most notably Texas, Florida and the Gulf Coast. The Aggregates business is also subject to weather-related risks that can significantly affect production schedules and profitability. The first and fourth quarters are most adversely affected by winter weather.
Risks to the 2011 outlook include shipment declines as a result of economic events beyond the Corporation's control. In addition to the impact on nonresidential and residential construction, the Corporation is exposed to risk in its estimated outlook from credit markets and the availability of and interest cost related to its debt.
Consolidated Financial Highlights
Net sales for the quarter were $306.2 million, a 3.6% increase versus the $295.6 million recorded in the first quarter of 2010. The loss from operations for the first quarter of 2011 was $6.1 million compared with $12.9 million in 2010. Net loss attributable to Martin Marietta Materials was $17.4 million, or $0.39 per diluted share, versus 2010 first-quarter net loss attributable to Martin Marietta Materials of $24.2 million, or $0.54 per diluted share.
Business Financial Highlights
Net sales for the Aggregates business during the first quarter of 2011 were $257.1 million compared with 2010 first quarter net sales of $253.8 million. Aggregates pricing at heritage locations was up 0.4%, while volume declined 1.2%. The loss from operations for the 2011 first quarter was $16.5 million versus $19.3 million in the year-earlier period.
Specialty Products' first-quarter net sales of $49.1 million increased 17.8% from prior-year net sales of $41.8 million. Earnings from operations for the first quarter were $15.1 million compared with $11.2 million in the year-earlier period.
Martin Marietta Materials Inc. is the nation's second largest producer of construction aggregates and a producer of magnesia-based chemicals and dolomitic lime. For more information about Martin Marietta Materials Inc., refer to the Corporation's website at www.martinmarietta.com.