DALLAS, May 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Eagle Materials Inc. (NYSE: EXP - News) today reported financial results for the fourth quarter ended March 31, 2007 and for fiscal year 2007. Eagle produces and distributes Gypsum Wallboard, Cement, Recycled Paperboard and Concrete and Aggregates. The following are highlights of our fourth quarter and fiscal year results:
* HIGHEST FISCAL YEAR OPERATING EARNINGS IN OUR HISTORY (UP 25%) * HIGHEST FISCAL YEAR WALLBOARD AVERAGE NET SALES PRICE IN OUR HISTORY - INCREASED APPROXIMATELY $24 PER MSF FROM THE PRIOR YEAR * OUR CEMENT COMPANIES COMPLETED THEIR 21ST CONSECUTIVE "SOLD OUT" YEAR AND SET A RECORD FOR FISCAL YEAR SALES VOLUME - OVER 3.2 MILLION TONS * HIGHEST FISCAL YEAR CEMENT AVERAGE NET SALES PRICE IN OUR HISTORY - INCREASED NEARLY $10 PER TON FROM THE PRIOR YEAR * COMPLETED EXPANSION AND START-UP OF ILLINOIS CEMENT ON-TIME AND UNDER BUDGET * INCREASED OUR ANNUAL CASH DIVIDEND 14% TO $0.80 PER SHARE
For the quarter ended March 31, 2007, revenues and net earnings were $191.8 million and $36.6 million, respectively. Revenues declined 13% from the prior year fourth quarter and net earnings decreased 16% from the same period last year. Diluted earnings per share for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2007 were $0.75 compared with $0.86 in the same period a year ago, a 13% decline.
For the fiscal year ended March 31, 2007, Eagle's net earnings increased 26% to $202.7 million, or $4.07 per diluted share, from $161.0 million, or $3.02 per diluted share, for the previous fiscal year. Revenues for fiscal 2007 of $922.4 million were a record high, and were 7% greater than the $859.7 million for the previous fiscal year.
Eagle remains well positioned to adapt to changing industry conditions because of our low-cost, balanced-mix of construction products (Cement/Concrete/Aggregates) and building materials (Gypsum Wallboard/Paperboard) combined with our geographical focus in the sunbelt regions of the U.S. The severe slowdown in residential construction has slowed demand for wallboard, loosening supply constraints and thereby making the marketplace very competitive. The Gypsum Association reported approximately 7.8 billion square feet of wallboard was shipped by U.S. manufacturers during the first three months of calendar 2007, an 18% decrease over the prior year, and industry utilization was approximately 80%. For the remainder of calendar 2007, we expect average wallboard industry capacity utilization to range between 80% and 85%.-------------------------
Worldwide demand for cement remains at record levels, and U.S. demand for cement also remains at near record levels, requiring approximately 25% imports to meet U.S. construction industry demand. While cement demand in some U.S. regions has been impacted harder because of the residential slowdown, underlying demand in all four of our regional cement markets remains at high levels. During this past winter, many parts of the U.S., including all of Eagle's markets, experienced harsh winter weather that negatively impacted sales volumes. With demand down, previously announced January price increases did not materialize. However, as the weather has improved so have prospects for regional cement price increases this summer. Price increases have been announced in all of our markets for late spring or early summer. Cement demand remains strong in most of our markets, and we expect fiscal 2008 to be our 22nd consecutive year of selling out our four cement plants.
Gypsum Wallboard revenues for the fourth quarter totaled $111.9 million, a 17% decrease compared to the $134.7 million for the same quarter a year ago. Gypsum Wallboard's fourth quarter operating earnings were $33.7 million, down 33% from the $50.4 million for the same quarter last year. The revenue and earnings decline for the quarter resulted from lower sales prices and sales volume. The average net sales price for this fiscal year's fourth quarter was $142 per MSF, 8% less than the $155 per MSF for the same quarter last year. Gypsum Wallboard sales volume of 628 million square feet (MMSF) for the quarter decreased 13% from the prior year's fourth quarter.
Fiscal 2007 operating earnings from Gypsum Wallboard were $198.1 million, an increase of 28% compared to $154.2 million for fiscal 2006. Revenues from Gypsum Wallboard were $511.6 million for fiscal 2007, 7% higher than last year's revenues of $479.1 million.
Operating earnings from Cement declined 5% to $18.6 million for the fourth quarter this year from $19.6 million for the same quarter last year. Lower sales volume, due to poor winter weather, was the primary reason for the earnings decline. They were partially offset by a record average net sales price for the quarter. Cement revenues for the fourth quarter, including joint venture and intersegment sales, totaled $63.8 million, 2% below the $64.8 million for the same quarter a year ago. Cement sales volume for the fourth quarter totaled 621,000 tons, 7% below the 669,000 tons for the same quarter last year. The average net sales price for this fiscal year's fourth quarter was $96 per ton, 7% greater than the $90 per ton for the same quarter last year.