-- EBITDA from operations for the fourth quarter was $29.1 million compared to $34.5 million in the prior year quarter. Results in the prior year benefited from a $3.7 million one-time insurance settlement as a result of a temporary production outage at its Buckingham, Quebec facility.-- Sodium chlorate gross profits, excluding the impact of the insurance settlement noted above, were higher than the prior year quarter due to higher sales volumes and lower average electricity costs. Average selling prices were consistent with the prior year quarter.-- Sodium chlorate sales volumes were 10% higher than the prior year quarter as a result of improved demand from North American and international customers. The market for sodium chlorate continues to be balanced due to a stable market for pulp.-- Chloralkali gross profits were lower than the prior year due to reduced sales volumes and lower average selling prices. Sales volumes in the fourth quarter were impacted by temporary production curtailments related to the completion of a mandatory bromine upgrade project at the Port Edwards, Wisconsin facility and a weak market for chlorine which resulted in reduced sales volumes for caustic products. The reduction in average selling prices for chloralkali products was due primarily to a weak pricing environment for chlorine due to reduced demand as noted above.-- Operating expenses were $1.4 million higher than the prior year due to increased employee costs and general inflationary increases.-- As previously announced, Superior has approved an expansion of its hydrochloric acid production capacity at its Port Edwards, Wisconsin and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan facilities. Upon completion of both projects, Superior will have doubled its total hydrochloric acid production capacity to 360,000 wet metric tonnes. The expansion of the production capacity will allow Superior to optimize overall returns at both facilities by converting a larger portion of its chlorine into higher value hydrochloric acid. The Port Edwards project is anticipated to cost $18 million with commercial production expected in the second quarter of 2014, the Saskatoon project is anticipated to cost $25 million with commercial production expected in the fourth quarter of 2014. To date, cumulative costs of $1.4 million have been incurred with respect to both projects.-- Superior expects business conditions in 2013 for its Specialty Chemicals business will be similar to 2012. EBITDA from operations, excluding the impact of the $12.5 million one-time payment from TransCanada received in the third quarter of 2012, is anticipated to be modestly higher in 2013 due to improved performance of the chloralkali product segment as a result of higher gross profits from hydrochloric acid and modestly higher selling prices for caustic soda, which will more than offset reduced pricing for chlorine. Superior continues to see a stable market for sodium chlorate as a result of the current market for pulp. Superior also expects a stable market for chloralkali sales volumes and pricing as North American supply demand fundamentals continue to be balanced. The market for chloralkali continues to be supported by low natural gas prices.
Construction Products Distribution
-- EBITDA from operations for the fourth quarter was $7.8 million, including one-time restructuring costs of $2.3 million, compared to $6.9 million in the prior year quarter. Excluding the impact of the restructuring costs noted above, results in the fourth quarter were higher than the prior year quarter due to lower operating costs.-- Gross profit was consistent with the prior year quarter as improved sales volumes more than offset weaker sales margins. Gypsum sales volumes were higher than the prior year quarter due to improved U.S. demand and the introduction of the full interiors product line into select U.S. markets that were previously acoustical ceiling focused. Canadian gypsum sales volumes were modestly lower than the prior year due to the closing of a number of branches as part of restructuring activities completed throughout 2012. Gypsum sales margins were impacted by sales mix due to the introduction of lower margin products, difficulties in passing through manufacturer price increases and ongoing general competitive pressures.-- Commercial and industrial insulation (C&I) sales volumes benefitted from improved project driven demand in addition to sales volumes associated with increased sales and marketing efforts throughout 2012. C&I gross margins were lower than the prior year due principally to sales mix and reduced product rebates.-- Operating expenses, including $2.3 million in one-time restructuring costs ($6.5 million year-to-date), were $1.0 million lower than the prior year. The decrease in operating expenses, excluding the impact of restructuring costs, is due to operational restructuring completed throughout 2012, which was offset in part, by costs associated with higher sales volumes and inflationary increases on wages and other operating costs. Operating expenses as a percentage of sales, excluding restructuring costs, were lower than the prior year quarter.-- The Construction Products Distribution business recognized $6.5 million in restructuring costs in 2012 associated with the closure or reorganization of 15 branches in 2012. The Construction Products Distribution business will continue to actively review all aspect of its operations to optimize its costs structure and improve gross margins. Significant restructuring activities or costs are not anticipated in 2013.-- Superior expects business conditions in 2013 for its Construction Products Distribution business to be similar to 2012 with slightly improving conditions in the U.S. and lower residential construction in Canada. EBITDA from operations is anticipated to be higher in 2013 than 2012 due in part to the absence of restructuring costs incurred in 2012. In addition, results will benefit from the ongoing business initiative activities. Superior continues to see difficult market conditions in both the residential and commercial segments in Canada and the U.S. Superior does not anticipate significant improvements in the end-use markets in the near term.