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EX-2.4 - EXHIBIT 2.4 - COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL INCcmp-20151231x10kxex24.htm
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EX-10.14 - EXHIBIT 10.14 - COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL INCcmp-20151231x10kxex1014.htm
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EX-12.1 - EXHIBIT 12.1 - COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL INCcmp-20151231x10kxex121.htm
EX-31.2 - EXHIBIT 31.2 - COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL INCcmp-20151231x10kxex312.htm
EX-23.1 - EXHIBIT 23.1 - COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL INCcmp-20151231x10kxex231.htm
EX-31.1 - EXHIBIT 31.1 - COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL INCcmp-20151231x10kxex311.htm
COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


United States
Securities and Exchange Commission
Washington, D.C. 20549

FORM 10-K
(MARK ONE)
x ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2015
OR
☐TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from _______ to _______

Commission File Number 001-31921

Compass Minerals International, Inc.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Delaware
 
36-3972986
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
 
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
9900 West 109th Street, Suite 100
 
66210
Overland Park, Kansas
 
(Zip Code)
(Address of principal executive offices)
 
 

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code:
(913) 344-9200
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
 
Name of each exchange on which registered
Common stock, par value $0.01 per share
 
New York Stock Exchange

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:  None

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
Yes þ No ☐

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.
Yes ☐ No þ

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
Yes þ No ☐

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Website, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).
Yes þ No ☐

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant's knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  þ

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company.  See definitions of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer" and "smaller reporting company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
 
Large accelerated filer þ
 
Accelerated filer ☐
 
 
Non-accelerated filer ☐
 
Smaller reporting company ☐
 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ☐ No þ

As of June 30, 2015, the aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was $2,768,243,921, based on the closing sale price of $82.14 per share, as reported on the New York Stock Exchange.

The number of shares outstanding of the registrant’s $0.01 par value common stock at February 17, 2016 was 33,739,460 shares.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Document
 
Parts into which Incorporated
Portions of the Proxy Statement for the Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be held May 4, 2016
 
Part III, Items 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14


COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


TABLE OF CONTENTS

PART I
 
Page No.

 
 
 
4

15

24

24

24

24

 
 
 

PART II
 
 

 
 
 
26

28

29

42

44

77

77

77

 
 
 

PART III
 
 

 
 
 
78

78

78

78

78

 
 
 

PART IV
 
 

 
 
 
79

 
 

SIGNATURES
84


 


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


PART I
 
CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
 
Certain statements in this annual report on Form 10-K (the "report"), including without limitation the Company’s or management’s beliefs, expectations or opinions, statements regarding future events or future financial performance, our plans and objectives, existing or potential capital expenditures, understanding of the industry and our competition, projected sources of cash flow, potential legal liability, and proposed legislation and regulatory action, are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are those that predict or describe future events or trends and that do not relate solely to historical matters. We use words such as "may," "would," "could," "should," "will," "likely," "expect," "anticipate," "believe," "intend," "plan," "forecast," "outlook," "project," "estimate" and similar expressions suggesting future outcomes or events to identify forward-looking statements or forward-looking information. These statements are based on the Company's current expectations and involve risks and uncertainties that could cause the Company's actual results to differ materially. In evaluating these statements, you should carefully consider various risks, uncertainties and factors including, but not limited to, those listed under Item 1A., "Risk Factors" and elsewhere in this report. Forward-looking statements are only predictions and are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that may cause our actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements expressed or implied in this report as a result of factors, risks, and uncertainties, over many of which we do not have control.
Although we believe that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable as of the date of this report, we cannot guarantee future results, levels of activity, performance or achievements. We do not undertake, and hereby disclaim, any obligation or duty, unless otherwise required to do so by applicable securities laws, to update any forward-looking statement after the date of this report regardless of any new information, future events or other factors. The inclusion of any statement in this report does not constitute our admission that the events or circumstances described in such statement are material to us.
Factors that could cause actual results, levels of activity, performance, or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, the following:

hazards of mining, including acts of nature;

uninsured risks;

difficulties or delays in receiving or renewing required governmental or regulatory approvals;

the impact of new technology on the demand for our products;

the price or lack of availability of transportation services;

agricultural economics, customer expectations about future plant nutrition market prices, and customer application rates;

weather conditions;

cyber security issues;

the ability to attract and retain skilled personnel or avoid a disruption in our workforce;

the impact of competitive products;

governmental policies affecting highway maintenance programs, or consumer, industrial or agricultural sectors in localities where we or our customers operate;

pressure on prices realized for our products;

constraints on supplies and prices of raw materials and energy used in manufacturing certain of our products;

changes in tax laws or estimates;

domestic and international general business and economic conditions;

foreign exchange rates and their fluctuations;

the effects of and changes in trade, monetary, environmental and fiscal policies, laws and regulations;

the costs and effects of legal and tax proceedings, including environmental and administrative proceedings;

the impact of indebtedness and interest rates, including access to additional credit and capital markets;



 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


the ability to complete the acquisition of our unconsolidated equity investee;

the ability to successfully complete acquisitions or integrate acquired businesses;

misappropriation or infringement claims relating to intellectual property;

capacity constraints limiting the production of certain products;

difficulties or delays in the development, production, testing and marketing of products;

market acceptance issues, including the failure of products to generate anticipated sales levels; and

other risk factors included in this Form 10-K or reported from time to time in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"). See "Where You Can Find More Information."

MARKET AND INDUSTRY DATA AND FORECASTS
 
This report includes market share and industry data and forecasts that we obtained from publicly available information and industry publications, surveys, market research, internal company surveys, and consultant surveys. Industry publications and surveys, consultant surveys, and forecasts generally state that the information contained therein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but there can be no assurance as to the accuracy and completeness of such information. We have not independently verified any of the data from third-party sources nor have we ascertained the underlying economic assumptions relied upon therein. Similarly, internal company surveys, industry forecasts, and market research, which we believe to be reliable based upon management’s knowledge of the industry, have not been verified by any independent sources. Except where otherwise noted, references to North America include only the continental United States and Canada, references to the United Kingdom ("U.K.") include only England, Scotland and Wales, and statements as to our position relative to our competitors or as to market share refer to the most recent available data. Statements concerning (a) North American consumer and industrial salt and highway deicing salt are generally based on historical sales volumes, (b) U.K. highway deicing salt sales are generally based on historical production capacity and (c) sulfate of potash are generally based on historical sales volumes. Except where otherwise noted, all references to tons refer to "short tons" and all amounts are in United States ("U.S.") dollars. One short ton equals 2,000 pounds.

WHERE YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION
 
We file annual, quarterly and current reports and other information with the SEC. Our SEC filings are available to the public over the Internet at the SEC’s website at http://www.sec.gov. Please note that the SEC’s website is included in this report as an active textual reference only. The information contained on the SEC’s website is not incorporated by reference into this report and should not be considered a part of this report.

You may also request a copy of any of our filings, at no cost, by writing or telephoning:

Investor Relations
Compass Minerals International, Inc.
9900 West 109th Street, Suite 100
Overland Park, Kansas 66210
 
For general inquiries concerning the Company, please call (913) 344-9200.

Alternatively, copies of these documents are also available free of charge on our website, www.compassminerals.com. The information on our website is not part of this report and is not incorporated by reference into this report.

Unless the context requires otherwise, references in this annual report to the "Company," "Compass Minerals," "CMP," "we," "us" and "our" refer to Compass Minerals International, Inc. ("CMI," the parent holding company) and its consolidated subsidiaries collectively.



 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


ITEM 1.    BUSINESS
 
COMPANY OVERVIEW
 
Based in the Kansas City metropolitan area, Compass Minerals is a leading producer and marketer of essential minerals, including salt, sulfate of potash specialty fertilizer ("SOP"), magnesium chloride and micronutrients. As of December 31, 2015, we operated 13 production and packaging facilities, including the largest rock salt mine in the world in Goderich, Ontario, Canada, and the largest dedicated rock salt mine in the U.K. in Winsford, Cheshire. Our solar evaporation facility located in Ogden, Utah, is both the largest SOP production site and the largest solar salt production site in North America. We provide highway deicing salt to customers in North America and the U.K. and plant nutrition products to growers and fertilizer distributors worldwide. Our principal plant nutrition product is SOP, which we began marketing under the trade name Protassium+ in 2014. We also sell various premium micronutrient products under our Wolf Trax brand. Additionally, we produce and market consumer deicing and water conditioning products, ingredients used in consumer and commercial food preparation, and other mineral-based products for consumer, agricultural and industrial applications. In the U.K., we operate a records management business utilizing excavated areas of our Winsford salt mine with one other location in London, England.

SALT SEGMENT
 
Salt is indispensable and enormously versatile with thousands of reported uses. In addition, there are no known cost-effective alternatives for most high-volume uses. As a result, our cash flows from salt have not been materially impacted through a variety of economic cycles. We are among the lowest-cost salt producers in our markets due to our high-grade quality salt deposits, which are among the most extensive in the world, and through the use of effective mining techniques and efficient production processes.
Through our salt segment, we mine, produce, process, distribute and market sodium chloride and magnesium chloride in North America and sodium chloride in the U.K.  Our salt segment products include rock salt, mechanically evaporated and solar evaporated salt, and brine and flake magnesium chloride. We also purchase potassium chloride ("KCl") and calcium chloride to sell as finished products or to blend with sodium chloride to produce specialty products. Sodium chloride (either as a single mineral or in combination with other chlorides) represents the vast majority of the products we produce and sell. Accordingly, we refer to these products collectively as "salt," unless otherwise noted. In 2015, the salt segment accounted for approximately 77% of our gross sales (see Note 15 to our Consolidated Financial Statements for segment financial information).
Salt is used in a wide variety of applications, including as a deicer for highway, consumer and professional use (rock salt and specialty deicers, which include pure or blended magnesium chloride, potassium chloride and calcium chloride salts with sodium chloride), as an ingredient in chemical production, for water treatment, human and animal nutrition, and for a variety of other consumer and industrial uses.
The demand for salt has historically remained relatively stable during periods of rising prices and through a variety of economic cycles due to its relatively low cost and a diverse number of end uses. However, demand for deicing products is affected by the number and intensity of winter precipitation events in our service territories.

Salt Industry Overview
The salt industry has historically been characterized by modest growth and steady price increases across various types of products, after factoring in the impact of winter weather variability. Salt is one of the most common and widely consumed minerals in the world due to its low relative cost and its utility in a variety of applications. We estimate that the consumption of highway deicing rock salt in North America, including rock salt used in chemical manufacturing processes, is approximately 37 million tons per year based on average winter weather conditions, while the consumer and industrial market totals approximately 9 million tons per year. In the U.K., we estimate that the size of the highway deicing market is approximately 2 million tons per year based on average winter weather conditions. According to the latest available data from the U.S. Geological Survey ("USGS"), during the 30 year period ending 2013, the production of salt used in highway deicing and for consumer and industrial products in the U.S. has increased at a historical average rate of approximately 1% per year, although there have been recent fluctuations above and below this average.
Salt prices vary according to purity and end use, and its pricing differences reflect, among other things, variations in refining and packaging processes. According to the latest USGS data, during the 30 year period ending 2013, prices for salt used in highway deicing and consumer and industrial products in the U.S. have increased at a historical average rate of approximately 3% per year, although there have been recent fluctuations above and below this average. Due to salt’s relatively low production cost, transportation and handling costs tend to be a significant component of the total delivered cost, which makes logistics management and customer service key competitive factors in the industry. The high relative cost associated with transportation tends to favor producers located nearest to the customers.




 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


Processing Methods
Our current production capacity, excluding salt and other minerals purchased under contracts, is approximately 15.6 million tons of salt per year. As of December 31, 2015, mining, other production activities and packaging are conducted at 13 of our facilities. The three processing methods we use to produce salt are described below.
 
Underground Rock Salt Mining – We primarily use a drill and blast mining technique at our North American underground rock salt mines. In addition, we use continuous mining equipment at our Goderich, Ontario, facility. At our Winsford, U.K., facility, we primarily use continuous mining equipment. Mining machinery moves salt from the salt face to conveyor belts, which transport the salt to the mill center where it is crushed and screened. It is then hoisted to the surface where the processed salt is loaded onto shipping vessels, railcars or trucks. The primary power sources for each of our rock salt mines are electricity and diesel fuel. Rock salt is sold in our highway deicing product line and for numerous applications in our consumer and industrial product lines. Underground rock salt mining represents approximately 84% of our current annual salt production capacity. 
 
Mechanical Evaporation – Mechanical evaporation involves obtaining salt brine from underground salt deposits through brine wells and subjecting that salt-saturated brine to vacuum pressure and heat to precipitate and crystallize salt.  The primary power
sources are natural gas and electricity. The resulting product is high purity and has a uniform physical shape. Mechanically evaporated salt is primarily sold through our consumer and industrial salt product lines and represents approximately 6% of our current annual salt production capacity.
 
Solar Evaporation – Solar evaporation is used in areas of the world where high-salinity brine is available and where weather conditions provide for a high natural evaporation rate. The brine is pumped into a series of large open ponds where sun and wind evaporate the water and crystallize the salt, which is then mechanically harvested and processed through washing, drying and screening. We produce solar salt at the Great Salt Lake in Utah, and sell it through both our consumer and industrial and our highway deicing product lines. Solar evaporation represents approximately 10% of our current annual salt production capacity.
We also produce magnesium chloride through the solar evaporation process. We precipitate sodium chloride and potassium-rich salts from the brine, leaving a concentrated magnesium chloride brine solution.  This resulting concentrated brine becomes the raw material used to produce several magnesium chloride products, which are sold through both our consumer and industrial and highway deicing product lines, as well as our plant nutrition segment.

Operations and Facilities
Canada – We produce finished salt products at four locations in Canada. Rock salt mined at our Goderich, Ontario, mine serves the highway deicing markets and the consumer and industrial markets in Canada and the Great Lakes region of the U.S., principally through a series of depots located around the Great Lakes and through packaging facilities. Mechanically evaporated salt used for our consumer and industrial product lines is produced at three facilities strategically located throughout Canada: Amherst, Nova Scotia, in Eastern Canada; Goderich, Ontario, in Central Canada; and Unity, Saskatchewan, in Western Canada.

United States – Our Cote Blanche, Louisiana, rock salt mine serves highway deicing customers through a series of depots located along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers (and their major tributaries) and chemical and agricultural customers in the Southern and Midwestern U.S. Our solar evaporation facility located in Ogden, Utah, is the largest solar salt production site in North America. This facility principally serves the Midwestern and Western U.S. consumer and industrial markets, provides salt for highway deicing and chemical applications, and produces magnesium chloride, which is used in deicing, dust control and unpaved road surface stabilization applications. The production capacity for solar-evaporated salt at our Ogden facility is currently only limited by demand. Our Central and Midwestern U.S. consumer and industrial customer base is primarily served by our mechanical evaporation plant in Lyons, Kansas. Additionally, we serve areas with evaporated salt purchased from other suppliers’ facilities. We also operate four salt packaging facilities in Illinois, Minnesota, New York and Wisconsin, which principally serve consumer deicing and water conditioning customers in the Central, Midwestern and parts of the Northeastern U.S.

United Kingdom – Our Winsford rock salt mine in Northwest, England, near Manchester, serves the U.K. highway deicing market, primarily in England and Wales.



 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


The following table shows the annual production capacity and type of salt produced at each of our owned or leased production locations as of December 31, 2015:
Location
Annual
Production
Capacity(a)
(tons)
Product Type
North America
 
 
Goderich, Ontario, Mine(b)
8,000,000
Rock Salt
Cote Blanche, Louisiana, Mine
3,000,000
Rock Salt
Ogden, Utah:
 
 
Salt(c)
1,500,000
Solar Salt
Magnesium Chloride(d)
750,000
Magnesium Chloride
Lyons, Kansas, Plant
450,000
Evaporated Salt
Unity, Saskatchewan, Plant
160,000
Evaporated Salt
Goderich, Ontario, Plant
130,000
Evaporated Salt
Amherst, Nova Scotia, Plant
130,000
Evaporated Salt
United Kingdom
 
 
Winsford, Cheshire, Mine
1,500,000
Rock Salt

(a) Annual production capacity is our estimate of the tons that can be produced assuming a normal amount of scheduled down time and operation of our facilities under normal working conditions.
(b) We continue to invest in the mine to achieve production capacity of approximately 9.0 million tons annually.
(c) Solar salts deposited annually substantially exceed the amount converted into finished products. The amount presented here represents an approximate average amount produced based on recent market demand.
(d) The magnesium chloride amount includes both brine and flake.

Salt production, including magnesium chloride, at these facilities totaled 14.9 million tons, 15.2 million tons and 12.8 million tons for the years ended December 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively.  We also purchase salt and other minerals under contracts with third-parties to supplement our production when needed. Variations in production volumes are typically attributable to variations in the winter season weather typically ending in March of each year, which impacts the demand during the winter for highway and consumer deicing products.
Salt deposits are found throughout the world, and where it is commercially produced or extracted, it is typically deposited in extremely large quantities. Our production facilities have access to vast mineral deposits. In most of our production locations, we estimate the recoverable salt reserves to last at least several more decades at current production rates and capacities. Our rights to extract those minerals may be contractually limited by either geographic boundaries or time. We believe that we will be able to continue to extend these agreements, as we have in the past, at commercially reasonable terms without incurring substantial costs or material modifications to the existing lease terms and conditions, thereby allowing us to extract the additional salt necessary to fully develop our existing mineral rights.
Our underground mines in Canada (Goderich, Ontario), the U.S. (Cote Blanche, Louisiana) and the U.K. (Winsford, Cheshire) make up 84% of our salt producing capacity.  See Item 1A., "Risk Factors – Our operations are dependent on our rights and ability to mine our properties and having renewed or received the required permits and approvals from third-parties and governmental authorities."  Each of these mines is operated with modern mining equipment and utilizes subsurface improvements such as vertical shaft lift systems, milling and crushing facilities, maintenance and repair shops, and extensive raw materials handling systems. We believe our properties and our operating equipment are maintained in good working condition.
We own the mine site at Goderich, Ontario. We also maintain a mineral lease at Goderich with the provincial government, which grants us the right to mine salt. This lease expires in 2022 with our option to renew until 2043 after demonstrating to the lessor that the mine’s useful life is greater than the lease’s term. The Cote Blanche mine is operated under land and mineral leases with third-party landowners who grant us the right to mine salt. The mine site and salt reserves at the Winsford mine are owned.
Our mines at Goderich, Cote Blanche and Winsford have been in operation for approximately 56, 50 and 170 years, respectively. We estimate that our mines at Goderich, Cote Blanche and Winsford have approximately 894.1 million, 248.8 million and 34.2 million tons, respectively, remaining at December 31, 2015. At current average rates of production, we estimate that our remaining years of production for the recoverable minerals we presently own or lease to be 119, 75 and 35 years, respectively. In 2014, we received a third-party study which increased the estimated number of tons available to be mined at our Winsford mine based upon a new extraction method.  In addition, we amended the lease at our Cote Blanche mine in 2014 to extend the lease term by providing two extension periods of 25 years, each at our option. The amended lease also includes the right to mine additional mineral reserves. We are working with a third-party to estimate the number of tons that will be available to be mined. Until we receive an


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


independent third-party study, our estimate of Cote Blanche’s remaining years of production is based upon an estimate of an additional 18.6 million tons of mineral reserves.
Our mineral interests are amortized on an individual mine basis over estimated useful lives not to exceed 99 years using primarily the units-of-production method. Our estimates are based on, among other things, the results of reserve studies completed by a third-party geological engineering firm. The reserve estimates are primarily a function of the area and volume covered by the mining rights and estimates of our extraction rates based upon an expectation of operating the mines on a long-term basis. Established criteria for proven and probable reserves are primarily applicable to mining deposits of discontinuous metal, where both the presence of ore and its variable grade need to be precisely identified. However, the massive continuous nature of evaporative deposits, such as salt, requires proportionately less data for the same degree of confidence in mineral reserves, both in terms of quantity and quality. Reserve studies performed by a third-party engineering firm suggest that our salt reserves most closely resemble probable reserves and we have therefore classified our reserves as probable reserves.
In addition, we acquired the mining rights to approximately 100 million tons of salt reserves in the Chilean Atacama Desert in 2012. This reserve estimate is based upon an initial report. We will need to complete a feasibility study before we proceed with the development of this project to ensure our salt reserves are probable. The development of this project will require significant infrastructure to establish extraction and logistics capabilities.
We package salt products at four additional Company-owned and operated facilities. Our packaging capacity is based on our estimate of the tons than can be packaged at these facilities assuming a normal amount of scheduled down-time and operation of our facilities under normal working conditions. The chart below shows the packaging capacity at each of these facilities:

    
In early 2015, we began operation of a packaging facility in Buffalo, New York. As of December 31, 2015, we also have a contract to purchase salt from one supplier in North America, which has a minimum purchasing commitment. 
 
Products and Sales – We sell our salt products through our highway deicing product line (which includes brine magnesium chloride as well as rock salt treated with this mineral) and our consumer and industrial product line (which includes salt as well
as products containing magnesium chloride and calcium chloride in both pure form and blended with salt). Highway deicing, including salt sold to chemical customers, constituted approximately 47% of our gross sales in 2015. Our principal customers are states, provinces, counties, municipalities and road maintenance contractors that purchase bulk deicing salt, both treated and untreated, for ice control on public roadways. Highway deicing salt in North America is sold primarily through an annual tendered bid contract process with governmental entities, as well as through some longer-term contracts, with price, product quality and delivery capabilities as the primary competitive market factors. See Item 1A., "Risk Factors – The Company is subject to numerous laws and regulations with which we must comply in order to operate our business and obtain contracts with governmental entities." Some sales also occur through negotiated sales contracts with third-party customers, particularly in the U.K. Since transportation costs are a relatively large portion of the cost to deliver products to customers, the locations of the salt sources and distribution networks also play a significant role in the ability of suppliers to serve customers. We have an extensive network of approximately 80 depots for storage and distribution of highway deicing salt in North America. The majority of these depots are located on the Great Lakes and the Mississippi and Ohio River systems (and their major tributaries) where our Goderich, Ontario, and Cote Blanche, Louisiana, mines are located to serve those markets. Salt and brine magnesium chloride from our Ogden, Utah, facility are also used for highway deicing in the Western and upper Midwest regions of the U.S. Treated rock salt, which is typically rock salt treated with brine magnesium chloride and organic materials that enhance the performance of the salt, is sold throughout our markets.
We produce highway deicing salt in the U.K. at our mining facility at Winsford, Cheshire, the largest dedicated rock salt mine in the U.K. We believe our production capability and favorable logistics position enhance our ability to meet the U.K.’s winter demands. Due to our strong position, we are viewed as a key supplier by the U.K.’s Highways Agency. In the U.K., approximately 70% of our highway deicing business customers have multi-year contracts.


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


Winter weather variability is the most significant factor affecting salt sales for deicing applications, because mild winters reduce the need for salt used in ice and snow control. On average, over the last three years, approximately two-thirds of our deicing product sales occurred during November through March each year when winter weather was most severe. Lower than expected sales during this period could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations. The vast majority of our North American deicing sales are made in Canada and the Midwestern U.S. where inclement weather during the winter months causes dangerous road conditions. In keeping with industry practice, we stockpile quantities of salt to meet estimated requirements for the next winter season. See Item 1A., "Risk Factors – The seasonal demand for our products and the variations in our operations from quarter to quarter due to weather conditions, including any effects from climate changes, may have an adverse effect on our results of operations and the price of our common stock" and Item 7, "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Seasonality."
Our principal chemical customers are producers of intermediate chemical products used in the production of vinyls and other chemicals, pulp and paper, as well as water treatment and a variety of other industrial uses. We typically have multi-year supply agreements, which are negotiated privately with our chemical customers. Price, service, product quality and security of supply are the major competitive market factors.
Sales of our consumer and industrial products accounted for approximately 30% of our 2015 gross sales. We are the third largest producer of consumer and industrial salt products in North America. This product line includes commercial and consumer applications, such as water conditioning, consumer and professional ice control, food processing, agricultural applications, table salt and a variety of industrial applications. We believe that we are among the largest private-label producers of water conditioning and table salt products in Canada. Our Sifto® brand encompasses a full line of salt products, which are well recognized in Canada.
Our consumer and industrial sales are driven by broad product lines, strong customer relationships and products using both private-label and Company brands. Our consumer and industrial product line is distributed through many channels including, but not limited to, retail, agricultural, industrial, janitorial and sanitation, and resellers. The consumer and industrial product line is channeled from our plants and third-party warehouses to our customers using a combination of direct sales personnel, contract personnel and a network of brokers or manufacturers’ representatives.
The chart below shows our shipments of salt products:


Competition – We face strong competition in each of the markets in which we operate. In North America, other large, nationally and internationally recognized companies compete against our salt products. In addition, there are also several smaller regional producers of salt. There are several importers of salt into North America, which mostly impact the East Coast and West Coast of the U.S. where we have minimal market presence. Two competitors serve the highway deicing salt market in the U.K.: one in Northern England and one in Northern Ireland. There are typically not significant imports of highway deicing salt into the U.K.  See Item 1A., "Risk Factors – Competition in our markets and governmental policies and regulations could limit our ability to attract and retain customers, force us to continuously make capital investments, alter supply levels, and put pressure on the prices we can charge for our products."




 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


PLANT NUTRITION SEGMENT
 
Fertilizers serve a significant role in efficient crop production around the world. Potassium is a vital nutrient for virtually all crops, as it assists in regulating plants’ growth and improves durability. There are two major forms of potassium-based fertilizer, SOP and muriate of potash ("MOP"). SOP is primarily used as a specialty fertilizer, providing potassium and sulfur with no chlorides, which is essential in increasing the yield and quality of high-value and chloride-sensitive crops, such as vegetables, fruits, potatoes, nuts, tobacco and turfgrass. Many high-value or chloride-sensitive crop yields and/or quality are improved when SOP is used as a potassium nutrient, rather than MOP. We are the leading SOP producer and marketer in North America, and we may also market SOP products internationally depending on market conditions. In 2014, we branded our SOP products under the name Protassium+. We offer several grades of Protassium+ products, which are designed to serve the special needs of our customers. Our plant in Ogden, Utah, is the largest in North America and one of only four large-scale solar brine evaporation operations for SOP in the world. Our SOP plant in Wynyard, Saskatchewan, is Canada’s only producer of SOP.
In April 2014, we completed the acquisition of Wolf Trax, Inc., a privately-held Canadian corporation (renamed Compass Minerals Manitoba Inc. ("Compass Manitoba")), which develops and distributes micronutrient products under the Wolf Trax brand. Compass Manitoba develops and markets these innovative crop products based upon proprietary and patented technologies.  The acquisition has provided us an opportunity to enter new product and geographic markets and position ourselves as a key resource for premium plant nutrition products.
In December 2015, we completed the acquisition of a 35% equity stake in Produquímica Indústria e Comércio S.A. ("Produquímica"), a Brazilian corporation. Produquímica is one of Brazil's leading manufacturers and distributors of specialty plant nutrients. The investment includes a path to full ownership by early 2019 at the latest. This strategic investment represents an important step in our growth plan to reach $500 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization ("EBITDA") by 2018. With this investment, we gained access to one of the world's most important agriculture markets and a partner who has a 50-year history of innovation and growth in the Brazilian specialty plant nutrition market.
In 2015, the plant nutrition segment accounted for approximately 22% of our gross sales (see Note 15 of our Consolidated Financial Statements for segment financial information).
Historically, our domestic sales of Protassium+ have been concentrated in the Western and Southeastern U.S. where the crops and soil conditions favor the use of low-chloride potassium nutrients, such as SOP. Consequently, weather patterns and field conditions in these locations can impact plant nutrition sales volumes. Additionally, the demand for, and market price of, SOP may be affected by the broader potash market and the economics of the crops SOP serves. The plant nutrient market is influenced by many factors such as world grain and food supply, changes in consumer diets, general levels of economic activity, government food programs, and governmental agriculture and energy policies in the U.S. and around the world. Economic factors may affect the amount or type of crop grown in certain locations, or the type or amount of fertilizer product used.

Plant Nutrition Industry Overview
Our plant nutrition segment includes sales of SOP and micronutrients. The average annual worldwide consumption of all potash fertilizers is approximately 77 million tons. MOP is the most common source of potassium and accounts for approximately 85% of all potash consumed in fertilizer production. SOP represents approximately 10% of all potash consumption. The remainder is supplied in forms containing varying concentrations of potassium (expressed as potassium oxide) along with different combinations of co-nutrients.
MOP is the most widely used potassium source for most crops and is a less expensive form of potash fertilizer than SOP. SOP (which contains the equivalent of approximately 50% potassium oxide) is utilized by growers for many high-value crops, especially where there are needs or a desire for fertilizers with low chloride content or when the grower seeks a higher yield or quality for their crops. The use of SOP has been proven to improve the yield and/or quality of many high-value or chloride-sensitive crops such as citrus fruits, grapes, almonds, some vegetables, tobacco, and turfgrass, including turf for golf courses. SOP market pricing has historically been above MOP market pricing.
Worldwide consumption of potash has increased in response to growing populations and the need for additional food supplies.  We expect the long-term demand for potassium nutrients to continue to grow as arable land per capita decreases, thereby encouraging improved crop yields.
The micronutrients market has been growing over the last several years, and we expect it to continue its growth in the future.  While used in small amounts, these plant food elements play important roles in plant development, and nutrient deficient soils must be replenished to obtain higher crop yields using the current available land resources.
Approximately 91% of our annual plant nutrition sales volumes in 2015 were made to domestic customers, who include retail fertilizer dealers and distributors of agricultural products as well as professional turf care customers. In some cases, these dealers and distributors combine or blend our plant nutrition products with other fertilizers and minerals to produce fertilizer blends tailored to individual requirements. See Item 1A., "Risk Factors – Competition in our markets and governmental policies and regulations could limit our ability to attract and retain customers, force us to continuously make capital investments, alter supply levels, and put pressure on the prices we can charge for our products."
 


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


Operations and Facilities
We produce Protassium+ at two facilities, both located in North America: at the Great Salt Lake, near Ogden, Utah, and at a site near Wynyard, Saskatchewan. Our Ogden facility is the largest SOP production site in North America. The facility operates more than 45,000 acres of solar evaporation ponds to produce SOP and salt, including magnesium chloride, from the naturally occurring brine of the Great Salt Lake. The facility operates on land that is both owned and leased under renewable leases from the state of Utah. We believe that our property and operating equipment are maintained in good working condition. This facility has the capability to produce up to 320,000 tons of solar-pond-based SOP, approximately 750,000 tons of magnesium chloride and 1.5 million tons of salt annually when weather conditions are typical. 
These recoverable minerals exist in vast quantities in the Great Salt Lake. We believe the recoverable minerals exceed 100 years of reserves at current production rates and capacities and the lake quantities are so vast that they will not be significantly impacted by our production. While our rights to extract these minerals are contractually limited, we believe we will be able to extend our lease agreements, as we have in the past, at commercially reasonable terms, without incurring substantial costs or incurring material modifications to the existing lease terms and conditions.
Initially, we draw mineral-rich lake water, or brine, from the Great Salt Lake into our solar evaporation ponds. The brine moves through a series of solar evaporation ponds over a two- to three-year production cycle. As the water evaporates and the mineral concentration increases, some of those minerals naturally precipitate out of the brine and are deposited on the floors of the ponds. We manage the brine through the entire solar pond system. This process produces the salts necessary to process into SOP, salt and magnesium chloride. The evaporation process is dependent upon sufficient lake brine levels and hot, arid summer weather conditions. The potassium-bearing salts are mechanically harvested out of the solar evaporation ponds and refined to high-purity SOP in our production facility.
We can use KCl and other potassium-rich minerals as a raw material feedstock to supplement our solar harvest to help meet demand when it is economically feasible. In the last three years, we have purchased and consumed KCl and/or raw material feedstock to supplement production.
We have invested in our Ogden facility to strengthen our solar-pond-based SOP production through upgrades to our processing plant and our solar evaporation ponds. The objectives have included some modification to our existing solar evaporation ponds to increase the annual solar harvest and the extraction yield from the harvest and processing capacity of our SOP plant. These improvements have increased our current annual solar-pond-based SOP production capacity from our prior capacity of 250,000 tons per year up to our current capacity of 320,000 tons.
We have identified opportunities and have begun to further expand our solar-pond-based SOP production capacity.  After the completion of this additional expansion, we expect our SOP production capacity to be approximately 550,000 tons, including tons produced using KCl feedstock.
We also own and operate Compass Minerals Wynyard Inc., which contributes 40,000 tons to our annual SOP capacity. The facility is located on the Big Quill Lake near Wynyard, Saskatchewan, Canada. We combine sulfate-rich brine with sourced potassium chloride to create SOP through ion exchange and glaserite processes. This product is high purity and is used in addition to crop nutrient applications as well as specialty, non-agricultural applications.
We hold numerous governmental, environmental, mining and other permits, water rights, and approvals authorizing operations at each of our facilities.

Products and Sales – Historically, our domestic sales of SOP have been concentrated in the Western and Southeastern U.S. where the crops and soil conditions favor the use of SOP as a source of potassium nutrients. In 2013, we increased our focus on our core domestic market which recognizes the value of SOP and is closer to our production facilities which further benefits our net selling price. Our Wolf Trax product line expands the markets that we serve. Our micronutrient products are essential to a wide range of crops, including commodity row crops, as different plants and soil conditions require different micronutrients.  International plant nutrition sales volumes in 2015 were 9% of our annual plant nutrition sales. See Note 15 to our Consolidated Financial Statements. We have an experienced sales group focusing on the specialty aspects and benefits of SOP as a source of potassium nutrients and the benefits of various micronutrients to plant health.


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


The chart below shows our domestic and international shipments of our plant nutrient products:


Competition – Approximately 56% of the world SOP capacity is located in East Asia/China, 23% in Western Europe, 4% in North America, 4% in South America and the remaining 13% in other countries. The world capacity of SOP totals about 11 million tons. Our major competition for SOP sales in North America includes imports from Germany, Chile and Belgium. In addition, there is functional competition between SOP and other forms of potassium crop nutrients. Internationally, we compete on a global level with a variety of other producers. See Item 1A., "Risk Factors Competition in our markets and governmental policies and regulations could limit our ability to attract and retain customers, force us to continuously make capital investments, alter supply levels, and put pressure on the prices we can charge for our products." The micronutrient market is highly fragmented with many suppliers serving differing needs. Commodity and specialty crops require micronutrients in varying degrees depending on the crop and soil conditions. While sales of Wolf Trax products have historically been concentrated in North America, we also sell our micronutrient products globally, primarily in Europe, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
During 2015, the Company's domestic and international net sales accounted for 91% and 9%, respectively, of total net sales. Information regarding financial data by geographic segment is set forth in Note 15 of our Consolidated Financial Statements.

OTHER
 
DeepStore is our records management business in the U.K. that utilizes portions of previously excavated space in our salt mine in Winsford, Cheshire, for secure underground document storage and one warehouse location in London, England. Currently, DeepStore does not have a significant share of the document storage market in the U.K., nor is it material in comparison to our salt and plant nutrition segments.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
 
 
We rely on a combination of patents, trademarks, copyright and trade secret protection, employee and third-party non-disclosure agreements, license arrangements, and domain name registrations to protect our intellectual property. We sell many of our products under a number of registered trademarks that we believe are widely recognized in the industry. The following items are some of our registered trademarks pursuant to applicable intellectual property laws and are the property of our subsidiaries: American Stockman; Chlori-Mag; DDP; DeepStore; DustGuard; FreezGard; IceAWay; K-Life; Nature’s Own; Protassium and design; ProSoft; Protinus; Safe Step; Sifto; Sure Soft; Sure-Paws; Thawrox; and Wolf Trax and design. No single patent, trademark or trade name is material to our business as a whole.
Any issued patents that cover our proprietary technology and any of our other intellectual property rights may not provide us with substantial protection or be commercially beneficial to us. The issuance of a patent is not conclusive as to its validity or its enforceability. Competitors may also be able to design around our patents. If we are unable to protect our patented technologies, our competitors could commercialize our technologies.
With respect to proprietary know-how, we rely on trade secret protection and confidentiality agreements. Monitoring the unauthorized use of our technology is difficult, and the steps we have taken may not prevent unauthorized use of our technology. The disclosure or misappropriation of our intellectual property could harm our ability to protect our rights and our competitive position. See Item 1A., "Risk Factors – Our intellectual property may be misappropriated or subject to claims of infringement."



 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


EMPLOYEES
 
 
As of December 31, 2015, we had 1,984 employees, of which 1,003 are located in the U.S., 806 in Canada and 175 in the U.K. Approximately 30% of our U.S. workforce and approximately 50% of our global workforce is represented by labor unions. Of our 12 material collective bargaining agreements, three will expire in 2016, four will expire in 2017, four will expire in 2018 and one will expire in 2019.  Approximately 10% of our workforce is employed in Europe where trade union membership is common. We consider our overall labor relations to be good. See Item 1A., "Risk Factors – If we cannot successfully negotiate new collective bargaining agreements, we may experience significant increases in the cost of labor or a disruption in our operations."

PROPERTIES
 
We have leases for packaging and other facilities, which are not individually material to our business. The table below sets forth our principal properties:
 
 
  
 
Land and Related Surface Rights
 
Mineral Reserves
Location
 
Use
 
Owned/
Leased
 
Expiration of
 Lease
 
Owned/
Leased
 
Expiration of
Lease
Cote Blanche, Louisiana
 
Rock salt production facility
 
Leased
 
   2060(1)
 
Leased
 
2060(1)
Lyons, Kansas
 
Evaporated salt production facility
 
Owned
 
N/A
 
Owned
 
N/A
Ogden, Utah
 
SOP, solar salt and magnesium  chloride production facility
 
Owned
 
N/A
 
Leased
 
(2) 
Wynyard, Saskatchewan, Canada
 
SOP production facility
 
   Owned(3)
 
N/A
 
Leased
 
2020(4)
Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada
 
Evaporated salt production facility
 
Owned
 
N/A
 
Leased
 
2023(5)
Goderich, Ontario, Canada
 
Rock salt production facility
 
Owned
 
N/A
 
Leased
 
2022(5)
Goderich, Ontario, Canada
 
Evaporated salt production facility
 
Owned
 
N/A
 
Owned
 
N/A
Unity, Saskatchewan, Canada
 
Evaporated salt production facility
 
Owned
 
N/A
 
Leased
 
2016/2030(6)
Winsford, Cheshire, United Kingdom
 
Rock salt production facility; records  management
 
Owned
 
N/A
 
Owned
 
N/A
London, United Kingdom
 
Records management
 
Leased
 
2028
 
N/A
 
N/A
Overland Park, Kansas
 
Corporate headquarters
 
Leased
 
2020
 
N/A
 
N/A

(1)
The Cote Blanche lease was amended in 2014 to include two 25-year renewal options.
(2)
The Ogden lease renews on an annual basis.
(3)
The Wynyard location also has leases expiring in 2016 for two parcels of land.
(4)
The Wynyard mineral lease may be renewed for additional 20-year periods.
(5)
Subject to our right of renewal through 2043.
(6)
Consists of two leases expiring in 2016 and 2030 subject to our right of renewal through 2037 and 2051, respectively.

With respect to each facility at which we extract salt, brine or SOP, permits or licenses are obtained as needed in the normal course of business based on our mine plans and federal, state, provincial and local regulatory provisions regarding mine permitting and licensing. Based on our historical permitting experience, we expect to be able to continue to obtain necessary mining permits to support historical rates of production.
Our mineral leases have varying terms. Some will expire after a set term of years, while others continue indefinitely. Many of these leases provide for a royalty payment to the lessor based on a specific amount per ton of minerals extracted or as a percentage of revenue. In addition, we own a number of properties and are party to non-mining leases that permit us to perform activities that are ancillary to our mining operations, such as surface use leases for storage at depots and warehouse leases. We believe that all of our leases were entered into at market terms.


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


The following map shows the locations of our principal mineral extraction, packaging and document storage operating facilities as of December 31, 2015:


ENVIRONMENTAL, HEALTH AND SAFETY MATTERS
 
We produce and distribute crop and animal nutrients, salt, and deicing products. These activities subject us to an evolving set of international, federal, state, provincial and local environmental, health and safety ("EHS") laws that regulate, or propose to regulate: (i) product content; (ii) use of products by both us and our customers; (iii) conduct of mining and production operations, including safety procedures followed by employees; (iv) management and handling of raw materials; (v) air and water quality impacts from our facilities; (vi) disposal, storage and management of hazardous and solid wastes; (vii) remediation of contamination at our facilities and third-party sites; and (viii) post-mining land reclamation. For new regulatory programs, it is difficult for us to ascertain future compliance obligations or estimate future costs until implementation of the regulations has been finalized and definitive regulatory interpretations have been adopted. We address regulatory requirements by making necessary modifications to our facilities and/or operating procedures.
We have expended, and anticipate that we will continue to expend, financial and managerial resources to comply with EHS laws and regulations, as well as Company EHS standards. We estimate that our 2016 EHS capital expenditures will total approximately $3.3 million. We expect that our estimated expenditures in 2016 for reclamation activities will be approximately $0.1 million. It is possible that greater than anticipated EHS capital expenditures or reclamation expenditures will be required in 2016 or in the future.
We maintain accounting accruals for certain contingent environmental liabilities and believe these accruals comply with generally accepted accounting principles. We record accruals for environmental investigatory and non-capital remediation costs when we believe it is probable that we will be responsible, in whole or in part, for environmental remediation activities, and the expenditures for such activities are reasonably estimable. Based on current information, it is the opinion of management that our contingent liabilities arising from EHS matters, taking into account established accruals, will not have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. As of December 31, 2015, we had recorded environmental accruals of $1.4 million.



 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


Product Requirements and their Impact
International, federal, state and provincial standards (i) require registration of many of our products before such products can be sold; (ii) impose labeling requirements on those products; and (iii) require producers to manufacture the products to formulations set forth on the labels. Environmental, natural resource and public health agencies at all regulatory levels continue to evaluate alleged health and environmental impacts that might arise from the handling and use of products such as those we manufacture. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (the "EPA"), the State of California and The Fertilizer Institute have each completed independent assessments of potential risks posed by crop nutrient materials. These assessments concluded that, based on the available data, crop nutrient materials generally do not pose harm to human health. It is unclear whether any further evaluations may result in additional standards or regulatory requirements for the producing industries, including us, or for our customers. It is the opinion of management that the potential impact of these standards on the market for our products or on the expenditures that may be necessary to meet new requirements will not have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Operating Requirements and Impacts
We hold numerous environmental and mining permits, water rights, and other permits or approvals authorizing operations at each of our facilities. Our operations are subject to permits for extraction of salt and brine, emissions of process materials to air and discharges to surface water, and injection of brine and wastewater to subsurface wells. Some of our proposed activities may require waste storage permits. A decision by a government agency to deny or delay issuing a new or renewed permit or approval, or to revoke or substantially modify an existing permit or approval, could have a material adverse effect on our ability to continue operations at the affected facility. In addition, changes to environmental and mining regulations or permit requirements could have a material adverse effect on our ability to continue operations at the affected facility. Expansion of our operations also is predicated upon securing the necessary environmental or other permits or approvals. See Item 1A., "Risk Factors – Environmental laws and regulation may subject us to significant liability and could require us to incur additional costs in the future."
We have also developed alternative mine uses. For example, we sold an excavated portion of our salt mine in the U.K. to a subsidiary of Veolia Environnement ("Veolia"), a business with operations in the waste management industry. That business is permitted by the jurisdictional environmental agency to dispose of certain stable types of hazardous waste in the area of the salt mine owned by them. We believe that the mine is stable and provides a secure disposal location separate from our mining and records management operations. However, we recognize that any temporary or permanent storage of hazardous waste may involve risks to the environment. Although we believe that we have taken these risks into account during our planning process, and Veolia is required by U.K. statute to maintain adequate security for any potential closure obligation, it is possible that material expenditures could be required in the future to further reduce this risk or to remediate any future contamination.

Remedial Activities
Remediation at Our Facilities – Many of our current and formerly owned facilities have been in operation for decades. Operations have historically involved the use and handling of regulated chemical substances, salt and by-products or process tailings by us and predecessor operators, which have resulted in soil, surface water and groundwater contamination.
At many of these facilities, spills or other releases of regulated substances have occurred previously and potentially could occur in the future, possibly requiring us to undertake or fund cleanup efforts under the U.S. Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("CERCLA") or state, provincial or other federal laws in other jurisdictions governing cleanup or disposal of hazardous substances. In some instances, we have agreed, pursuant to consent orders or agreements with the appropriate governmental agencies, to undertake investigations, which currently are in progress, to determine whether remedial action may be required to address such contamination. At other locations, we have entered into consent orders or agreements with appropriate governmental agencies to perform required remedial activities that will address identified site conditions. At still other locations, we have undertaken voluntary remediation and have removed formerly used underground storage tanks. Expenditures for these known conditions currently are not expected, individually or in the aggregate, to be significant. However, material expenditures could be required in the future to remediate the contamination at these or at other current or former sites.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection ("DATCP") has information indicating that agricultural chemicals are present within the subsurface area of the Kenosha, Wisconsin, plant. The agricultural chemicals were used by previous owners and operators of the site. None of the identified chemicals have been used in association with Compass Minerals’ operations since it acquired the property in 2002. DATCP directed us to conduct further investigations into the possible presence of agricultural chemicals in soil and ground water at the Kenosha plant. We have completed such investigations of the soils and ground water and have provided the findings to DATCP. We are presently proceeding with select remediation activities to mitigate agricultural chemical impact to soils and ground water at the site. All investigations and mitigation activities to date, and any potential future remediation work, are being conducted under the Wisconsin Agricultural Chemical Cleanup Program ("ACCP"), which would provide for reimbursement of some of the costs. We may seek participation by, or cost reimbursement from, other parties responsible for the presence of any agricultural chemicals found in soil and ground water at this site if we do not receive an acknowledgment of no further action and are required to conduct further investigation or remedial work that may not be eligible for reimbursement under the ACCP.


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


Remediation at Third-Party Facilities – Along with impacting the sites at which we have operated, various third parties have alleged that our past operations have resulted in contamination to neighboring off-site areas or third-party facilities including third-party disposal facilities for regulated substances generated by our operating activities. CERCLA imposes liability, without regard to fault or to the legality of a party’s conduct, on certain categories of persons who are considered to have contributed to the release of "hazardous substances" into the environment. Under CERCLA, or its various state analogues, one party may potentially be required to bear more than its proportional share of cleanup costs at a site where it has liability if payments cannot be obtained from other responsible parties.
We have entered into "de minimis" settlement agreements with the EPA with respect to several CERCLA sites, pursuant to which we have made one-time cash payments and received statutory protection from future claims arising from those sites. In some cases, however, such settlements have included "reopeners," which could result in additional liability at such sites in the event of newly discovered contamination or other circumstances.
At other sites for which we have received notice of potential CERCLA liability, we have provided information to the EPA that we believe demonstrates that we are not liable, and the EPA has not asserted claims against us with respect to such sites. In some instances, we have agreed, pursuant to orders from or agreements with appropriate governmental agencies or agreements with private parties, to undertake or fund investigations, some of which currently are in progress, to determine whether remedial action, under CERCLA or otherwise, may be required to address contamination. At other locations, we have entered into consent orders or agreements with appropriate governmental agencies to perform required remedial activities that will address identified site conditions.
At present, we are not aware of any additional sites for which we expect to receive a notice from the EPA or any other party of potential CERCLA liability that would have a material effect on our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.  However, based on past operations, there is a potential that we may receive notices in the future for issues at sites of which we are currently unaware or that our liability for issues at sites currently known may increase.
Expenditures for our known environmental liabilities and site conditions currently are not expected, individually or in the aggregate, to be material or have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.

ITEM 1A.    RISK FACTORS
 
You should carefully consider the following risks and all of the information set forth in this annual report on Form 10-K. The risks described below are not the only ones facing our company. Additional risks and uncertainties not currently known to us or that we currently deem to be immaterial may also materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Our mining, manufacturing and distribution operations are subject to a variety of risks and hazards, which may not be covered by insurance.
The process of mining, manufacturing and distribution involves risks and hazards, including environmental hazards, industrial accidents, labor disputes, unusual or unexpected geological conditions, or acts of nature. Our rock salt mines and SOP production facilities are located near bodies of water and industrial operations. These risks and hazards could lead to uncontrolled water intrusion or flooding or other events or circumstances, which could result in the complete loss of a mine or could otherwise result in damage or impairment to, or destruction of, mineral properties and production facilities, environmental damage, delays in mining and business interruption, and could result in personal injury or death. Our products are converted into finished goods inventories of salt and plant nutrition products and are stored in various locations throughout North America and the U.K. These inventories may become impaired either through accidents or obsolescence.
Our salt mines located in Cote Blanche, Louisiana, and Goderich, Ontario, Canada, constitute approximately 74% of our total salt production capacity. These underground salt mines supply most of the salt product necessary to support our North American highway deicing product line and significant portions of our consumer and industrial salt products. Although sales of our deicing products and profitability of the salt segment can vary from year to year partially due to weather variations in our markets, over the last three years sales of our highway deicing products have averaged approximately 45% of our consolidated sales. An extended production interruption or catastrophic event at either of these facilities could result in an inability to have product available for sale or to fulfill our highway deicing sales contracts and could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.
Although we evaluate our risks and carry insurance policies to mitigate the risk of loss where economically feasible, not all of these risks are reasonably insurable, and our insurance coverage contains limits, deductibles and exclusions. We cannot assure you that our coverage will be sufficient to meet our needs in the event of loss.  Such a loss may have a material adverse effect on the Company.
 


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


Our operations are dependent on our rights and ability to mine our properties and having renewed or received the required permits and approvals from third parties and governmental authorities.
We hold numerous governmental, environmental, mining and other permits, water rights and approvals authorizing operations at each of our facilities. A decision by a third party or a governmental agency to deny or delay issuing a new or renewed permit or approval, or to revoke or substantially modify an existing permit or approval, could have a material adverse effect on our ability to continue operations at the affected facility. Certain organizations have challenged the Canadian government's ownership of the land under which our Goderich, Ontario, facility is operated. There can be no assurances that existing permits or the Canadian government's ownership will be upheld.
Furthermore, many of our facilities are located on land leased from governmental authorities. Our leases generally require us to continue mining in order to retain the lease, the loss of which could adversely affect our ability to mine the associated reserves.  In addition, our facilities are located near existing and proposed third-party industrial operations that could affect our ability to fully extract, or the manner in which we extract the mineral deposits to which we have mining rights.
We are currently seeking to expand our solar-evaporation-pond acreage at the Great Salt Lake, which may require additional water and other rights from governmental authorities. There can be no assurance that we will be granted the necessary rights for all or any portion of these undeveloped lands nor, if received, that the lands will be developed to produce marketable product. 
In some instances, we have received access rights or easements from third parties which allow for a more efficient operation than would exist without the access or easement. We do not believe any action will be taken to suspend these accesses or easements.  However, no assurance can be made that a third party will not take any action to suspend the access or easement, nor that any such action would not be materially adverse to our results of operations or financial condition.

New technology may reduce the demand for our products or result in new or less costly methods of competitors producing products, either of which could adversely affect our operating results.
The demand for our products may be adversely affected by advances in technology or development of competing products.  More efficient application methods for salt and plant nutrition products may reduce demand. New application methods as well as any future technological advances may have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. New methods of delivering plant nutrient products could increase competition and impact the demand for our products. Methods of producing sodium chloride, magnesium chloride and SOP in large quantities have historically been characterized by slow pace of technological advances for existing competitors or potential new entrants. New methods or alternative sources developed to produce sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, SOP or competing products could increase competition and impact the demand for our products, thereby impacting our results of operations.

Increasing costs or a lack of availability of transportation services could have an adverse effect on our ability to deliver products at competitive prices.
Transportation and handling costs are a significant component of the total delivered cost of product sales, particularly salt. The high relative cost of transportation tends to favor producers located nearest the customer. We contract bulk shipping vessels, barges, trucking and rail services to move salt from our production facilities to distribution outlets and customers. In many instances, we have committed to deliver salt, under penalty of non-performance, up to nine months prior to producing and delivering the salt for delivery to our customers. A reduction in the dependability or availability of transportation services or a significant increase in transportation service rates, including the impact of weather and water levels on the waterways we use, could impair our ability to deliver our products economically to our customers and impair our ability to expand our markets.
In addition, diesel fuel is a significant component of transportation costs we incur to deliver our products to customers. In limited circumstances, our arrangements with customers allow for full or partial recovery of changes in diesel fuel costs through an adjustment to the selling price. However, a significant increase in the price of diesel fuel that is not recovered through transportation costs we charge our customers could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

Agricultural economics, customer expectations about future plant nutrition market prices and availability, and customer application rates can have a significant effect on the demand for our plant nutrition products, which can affect our sales volumes and prices.
When customers anticipate increased plant nutrient selling prices or improving agricultural economics, they may accumulate inventories in advance, which may result in a delay in the realization of price increases for our products. In addition, customers may delay their purchases when they anticipate future plant nutrient selling prices may remain constant or decline, or when they anticipate declining agricultural economics, which may adversely affect our sales volumes and selling prices. Customer expectations about the availability of plant nutrition products can have similar effects on sales volumes and prices.
Growers are continually seeking to maximize their economic return, which may impact the application rates for plant nutrition products. Growers’ decisions regarding the application rate for plant nutrition products, including whether to forgo application altogether, may vary based on many factors, including crop and plant nutrient prices and nutrient levels in the soil. Growers are more likely to increase application rates when crop prices are relatively high or when plant nutrient prices and soil nutrient levels


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


are relatively low. Growers are more likely to reduce application rates or forgo application of plant nutrition products when crop prices are relatively low and when plant nutrient prices and soil nutrient levels are relatively high. This variability can materially impact our sales prices and volumes.

Economic conditions in the agriculture sector, and supply and demand imbalances for competing plant nutrient products, can also impact the price of, or demand for, our products.
MOP is the least expensive form of potash fertilizer based on the concentration of potassium oxide and, consequently, it is the most widely used potassium source for most crops. SOP is utilized by growers for many high-value crops, especially crops for which low-chloride content fertilizers and/or the presence of sulfur improves quality and yield. Economic conditions for agricultural products can affect the type and amount of crops grown as well as the type or amount of fertilizer product used. Potash is a commodity, and consequently it trades in a highly competitive market affected by global supply and demand. When the demand and price of potash are high, competitors are more likely to increase their production. Competitors may also expand their future production capacity of potash or new facilities may also be built by new market participants, both of which could impact available supplies. An over-supply of either type of potash product domestically or worldwide could unfavorably impact the sales prices we can charge for our specialty potash fertilizer, as a large price disparity between potash products could cause growers to choose a less-expensive alternative.

The seasonal demand for our products and the variations in our operations from quarter to quarter due to weather conditions, including any effects from climate changes, may have an adverse effect on our results of operations and the price of our common stock.
Our deicing product line is seasonal, with operating results varying from quarter to quarter as a result of weather conditions and other factors. On average, over the last three years, approximately two-thirds of our deicing product sales occurred during November through March each year when winter weather was most severe. Winter weather events are not predictable outside of a relatively short time frame either locally or on a broader scale, yet we must stand ready to deliver deicing products to local communities with little advance notice under the requirements of our highway deicing contracts. As a result, we attempt to stockpile sufficient supplies of highway deicing salt in the last three fiscal quarters to meet estimated demand for the winter season. Failure to deliver under our highway deicing contracts may result in significant penalties.
In addition, winter weather events may be influenced by climate change, weather cycles and other natural events. Any prolonged change in weather patterns in our relevant geographic markets could impact demand for our deicing products. Weather conditions that impact our highway deicing product line include temperature, amounts of wintry precipitation, number of snowfall events and the potential for, and duration and timing of, snowfall or icy conditions in our relevant geographic markets. Lower than expected sales during the winter season could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and the price of our common stock.
Our plant nutrition operating results are dependent in part upon conditions in the agriculture sector. The fertilizer business, including our Protassium+ and micronutrient businesses, can be affected by a number of factors, including weather patterns, crop prices, field conditions (particularly during periods of traditionally high crop nutrients application) and quantities of crop nutrients imported to and exported from North America. Our ability to produce Protassium+ from our solar evaporation ponds is dependent upon sufficient lake brine levels and hot, arid summer weather conditions. Extended periods of precipitation or a prolonged lack of sunshine or cooler weather during the evaporation season would hinder the evaporation rate and hence our production levels, which may result in lower sales volumes and higher unit production costs.
Additionally, our ability to harvest minerals could be negatively impacted by any prolonged change in weather patterns, including any effects from climate change, leading to changes in mountain snowfall fresh water run-off that significantly impact lake levels or by increased rainfall during the summer months at our solar evaporation ponds at the Great Salt Lake. A cooler and/or wet evaporation season could also impact the harvest of minerals at the Great Salt Lake and result in an increase in our per-unit production costs.  Similar factors can negatively impact the lake level and concentration of sulfates at the Big Quill Lake, thereby impacting the production at our Wynyard facility and the resulting per-unit production costs.

If our computer systems and information technology are compromised, our ability to conduct our business will be adversely impacted.
We rely on computer systems and information technology to conduct our business, including cash management, order entry, vendor payments, employee salaries and recordkeeping, inventory and asset management, shipping of products, and communication with employees and customers. We also use our systems to analyze and communicate our operating results and other data to internal and external recipients. In 2016, we expect to implement a comprehensive update to our enterprise resource planning system. Any implementation issues could be costly to resolve and have adverse effects on our ability to properly capture, process and report financial transactions. While we have taken steps to ensure the security of our information technology systems, we may be susceptible to cyber attacks, computer viruses and other technological disruptions. A material failure or interruption of access to our computer systems for an extended period of time or the loss of confidential or proprietary data could adversely affect our operations and regulatory compliance. While we have mitigation and data recovery plans in place, it is possible that significant


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
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capital investment and time may be required to correct any of these issues. The additional capital investment needed to prevent or correct any of these issues may negatively impact our business and cash flows.

If we cannot successfully negotiate new collective bargaining agreements, we may experience significant increases in the cost of labor or a disruption in our operations.
Labor costs, including benefits, represented approximately 30% of our total production costs in 2015. As of December 31, 2015, we had 1,984 employees, of which 1,003 are located in the U.S., 806 in Canada and 175 in the U.K. Approximately 30% of our U.S. workforce and 50% of our global workforce is represented by labor unions. Of our 12 material collective bargaining agreements, three will expire in 2016, four will expire in 2017, four will expire in 2018 and one will expire in 2019.
Approximately 10% of our workforce is employed in Europe where trade union membership is common. Although we believe that our employee relations are good, they can be affected by general economic, financial, competitive, legislative, political and other factors beyond our control. We cannot assure you that we will be successful in negotiating new collective bargaining agreements, that such negotiations will not result in significant increases in the cost of labor, or that a breakdown in such negotiations will not result in the disruption of our operations.

Our business is capital-intensive, and the inability to fund necessary capital expenditures in order to develop or expand our operations could have an adverse effect on our growth and profitability.
We have begun to expand our SOP processing plant at our Great Salt Lake facility which requires us to make significant capital expenditures in 2016. In addition, we have shaft relining and continuous mining projects at our Goderich mine, which will require significant capital expenditures over the next several years. Capital expenditures required for projects we have undertaken may increase due to factors beyond our control. Although we currently finance most of our capital expenditures through cash provided by operations, we also may depend on the availability of credit to fund future capital expenditures. We could have difficulty finding or obtaining the financing required to fund our capital expenditures, which could limit our expansion ability or increase our debt service requirements; the occurrence of either could have a material adverse effect on our cash flows and profitability.
In addition, our credit agreement contains restrictive covenants related to financial metrics. We may pursue other financing arrangements, including leasing transactions as a method of financing our capital needs. If we are unable to obtain suitable financing, we may not be able to complete our expansion plans. A failure to complete our expansion plans could negatively impact our growth and profitability.
Significant capital expenditures are required to maintain our existing facilities and the amount of capital expenditures to maintain these facilities can fluctuate significantly when a large replacement or other need is required to maintain operations.  These activities may require the temporary suspension of production at portions of our facilities, which could adversely affect our cash flows and profitability. For our solar pond operations, we may need to obtain regulatory approvals to complete these maintenance activities, and there can be no assurance that such approvals will be received. If these approvals are not received, the impact on our operations may be material.

Our business is dependent upon highly-skilled personnel, and the loss of key personnel may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.
The success of our business is dependent on our ability to attract and retain highly-skilled managers and other personnel. There can be no assurance that we will be able to attract and retain the personnel necessary for the efficient operation of our business. The loss of the services of key personnel or the failure to attract additional personnel, as needed, could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and could lead to higher labor costs or the use of less-qualified personnel. We do not currently maintain "key person" life insurance on any of our key employees.

Competition in our markets and governmental policies and regulations could limit our ability to attract and retain customers, force us to continuously make capital investments, alter supply levels, and put pressure on the prices we can charge for our products.
We encounter competition in all areas of our business. Some of our competitors are privately-held companies. Therefore, information about these companies may be difficult to obtain, which may hinder us competitively. Competition in our product lines is based on a number of considerations, including product quality and performance, transportation costs (especially in salt distribution), brand reputation, price, and quality of customer service and support. Many of our customers attempt to reduce the number of vendors from which they purchase in order to increase their efficiency. Our customers increasingly demand a broad product range, and we must continue to develop our expertise in order to manufacture and market these products successfully. To remain competitive, we will need to invest continuously in manufacturing, marketing, customer service and support, and our distribution networks. We may not have sufficient resources to continue to make such investments or maintain our competitive position. We may have to adjust the prices of some of our products to stay competitive. Additionally, a portion of our plant nutrition business is dependent upon international sales, which accounted for approximately 9% of plant nutrition sales volumes in 2015. At times, we face global competition from other SOP and potash producers, and new competitors may enter the markets in which we sell at any time. We may face more competition in periods when the foreign currency exchange rates versus the dollar are favorable


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
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for our competitors. A relatively strong U.S. dollar increases the attractiveness of the U.S. market for our international competitors. Changes in potash competitors’ production or marketing focus could have a material impact on our business. Some of our competitors may have greater financial and other resources than we do.

Our production processes rely on the consumption of natural gas, electricity and certain raw materials. A significant interruption in the supply or an increase in the price of any of these products could adversely affect our business.
Energy costs, primarily natural gas and electricity, represented approximately 8% of our total production costs in 2015. Natural gas is a primary fuel source used in the evaporated salt production process. Our profitability is impacted by the price and availability of natural gas we purchase from third parties. We have a policy of hedging natural gas prices through the use of futures forward swap contracts. We have not entered into any contracts beyond three years for the purchase of natural gas. Our contractual arrangements for the supply of natural gas do not specify quantities and are automatically renewed annually unless either party elects not to do so. We do not have arrangements in place with back-up suppliers. In addition, potential climate change regulations or other carbon or emissions taxes could result in higher production costs for energy, which may be passed on to us, in whole or in part. A significant increase in the price of energy that is not recovered through an increase in the price of our products or covered through our hedging arrangements, or an extended interruption in the supply of natural gas or electricity to our production facilities, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
We use KCl as a raw material feedstock in our SOP production process at our Wynyard facility, and it also may be used to supplement our solar harvest at our Ogden facility. We also use KCl as an additive to some of our consumer deicing products and to sell for water conditioning applications. KCl for our Wynyard facility is purchased at prices that have been substantially below market pricing under a long-term supply agreement. We purchased and consumed potassium mineral feedstock for SOP production over the last several years and may supplement our pond-based SOP production when it is economically feasible to do so. In addition, we have continued to purchase KCl for certain water conditioning and consumer deicing applications. Large positive or negative price fluctuations can occur without a corresponding change in sales price to our customers. This could change the profitability of these products, which could materially affect our results of operations and cash flows. This could reduce the amount of blended deicing and water conditioning products we produce, which could also adversely affect our results of operations and cash flows.

Our tax liabilities are based on existing tax laws in our relevant tax jurisdictions and include estimates. Changes in tax laws or estimates, including the impact of tax audits, could adversely impact our profitability, cash flow and liquidity.
The Company files U.S., Canadian, U.K. and Brazilian tax returns with federal and local taxing jurisdictions. Developing our provision for income taxes and analyzing our potential tax exposure items requires significant judgment and assumptions as well as a thorough knowledge of the tax laws in various jurisdictions. We are subject to audit by various taxing authorities, and we may be assessed additional taxes during an audit. We regularly assess the likely outcomes of these audits, including any appeals, in order to determine the appropriateness of our tax provision. However, there can be no assurance that the actual outcomes of these audits or appeals will approximate our estimates, and the outcomes could have a material impact on our net earnings or financial condition. Our future effective tax rate could be adversely affected by changes in the mix of earnings in countries with differing statutory tax rates, changes in the valuation of deferred tax assets and liabilities, changes in tax laws, and the discovery of new information in the course of our tax return preparation process. In particular, the carrying value of deferred tax assets, which are predominantly in the U.S., is dependent on our ability to generate future taxable income in the U.S.
Canadian provincial tax authorities have challenged tax positions claimed by one of the Company’s Canadian subsidiaries and have issued tax reassessments for years 2002-2010. The reassessments are a result of ongoing audits and total approximately $77.7 million, including interest through December 2015. The Company disputes these reassessments and plans to continue to work with the appropriate authorities in Canada to resolve the dispute. There is a reasonable possibility that the ultimate resolution of this dispute, and any related disputes for other open tax years, may be materially higher or lower than the amounts the Company has reserved for such disputes. In connection with this dispute, local regulations require the Company to post security with the tax authority until the dispute is resolved. The Company has posted collateral in the form of a $49.2 million performance bond. The Company has paid approximately $27.3 million, most of which is recorded in other assets in the consolidated balance sheets, with the remaining balance to be paid after 2015.
In addition, Canadian federal and provincial taxing authorities have reassessed the Company for years 2004-2006, which have been previously settled by agreement among the Company, the Canadian federal taxing authority and the U.S. federal taxing authority. The Company has fully complied with the agreement since entering into it and believes this action is highly unusual. The Company is seeking to enforce the agreement which provided the basis upon which the returns were previously filed and settled. The total amount of the reassessments, including penalties and interest through December 31, 2015, related to this matter totals approximately $87.1 million. The Company has posted collateral in the form of an approximately $19.3 million performance bond and $34.7 million in the form of a bank letter guarantee which is necessary to proceed with future appeals or litigation.
The Company received Canadian income tax reassessments for years 2007-2008. The total amount of the reassessments, including penalties and interest through December 31, 2015, related to this matter is approximately $30.8 million. The Company does not agree with these adjustments and is receiving assistance from the tax jurisdictions for relief from the impact of double


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


taxation as available in the tax treaty between the U.S. and Canada. The Company has filed protective Notices of Objection and has agreed to post collateral of an approximately $8.6 million performance bond and $9.4 million in the form of a bank letter guarantee which is necessary to proceed with future appeals or litigation. Although the outcome of examinations by taxing authorities is uncertain, the Company believes it has adequately reserved for this matter.
While these matters involve an element of uncertainty, management expects that their ultimate outcome will not have a material impact on our results of operations or financial position. However, we can provide no assurance as to the ultimate outcome of these matters, and the impact could be material if they are not resolved in our favor.
We have been able to manage our cash flows generated and used across the Company to permanently reinvest earnings in our foreign jurisdictions or efficiently repatriate those funds to the U.S. The amount of permanently reinvested earnings is influenced by, among other things, the profits generated by our foreign subsidiaries and the amount of investment in those same subsidiaries. The profits generated by our domestic and foreign subsidiaries are, to some extent, impacted by values charged on the transfer of our products between them. We calculate values charged on transfer based on guidelines established by a multi-national organization which publishes accepted tax guidelines recognized in the jurisdictions in which we operate, and those calculated values are the basis upon which our subsidiary profits and cash flows are recorded, including estimates involving income taxes. Such calculations, however, involve significant judgment and estimates by the Company’s management. Some of our calculations have been approved by taxing authorities for certain periods, while the values for those same periods or different periods have been challenged by the same or other taxing authorities. While we believe our calculations and estimates are proper and consistent with the accepted guidelines, the values constitute estimates for which there can be no guarantee that the final resolution with all of the relevant taxing authorities will be consistent with our existing calculations and resulting financial statement estimates. Additionally, the timing for settling these challenges may not occur for many years. It is possible the resolution could impact the amount of earnings attributable to our domestic and foreign subsidiaries, which could impact the amount of permanently reinvested earnings and the tax-efficient access in all jurisdictions to consolidated cash on hand or future cash flows from operations and our ability to pay dividends and service our debt.

Economic and other risks associated with international sales and operations could adversely affect our business, including economic loss, and have a negative impact on earnings.
Since we produce and sell our products primarily in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., our business is subject to risks associated with doing business internationally. Our sales outside the U.S., as a percentage of our total sales, were 24% for the year ended December 31, 2015. Accordingly, our future results could be adversely affected by a variety of factors, including:
 
changes in currency exchange rates;

exchange controls;

tariffs, other trade protection measures, and import or export licensing requirements;

potentially negative consequences from changes in tax laws;

differing labor regulations;

requirements relating to withholding taxes on remittances and other payments by subsidiaries;

restrictions on our ability to own or operate subsidiaries, make investments, or acquire new businesses in these jurisdictions;

restrictions on our ability to repatriate dividends from our subsidiaries; and

changes in regulatory requirements.

Fluctuations in the value of the U.S. dollar relative to other currencies, especially the Canadian dollar, British pound sterling or Brazilian Real, may adversely affect our results of operations. Because our consolidated financial results are reported in U.S. dollars, the translation into U.S. dollars of sales or earnings can result in a significant increase or decrease in the reported amount of those sales or earnings. In addition, our debt service requirements are primarily in U.S. dollars even though a significant percentage of our cash flow is generated in Canadian dollars and British pounds sterling. Significant changes in the value of Canadian dollars, British pounds sterling and Brazilian Reals relative to the U.S. dollar could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and our ability to meet interest and principal payments on U.S. dollar-denominated debt.
In addition to currency translation risks, we incur currency transaction risk when we or one of our subsidiaries enter into either a purchase or a sales transaction using a currency other than the local currency of the transacting entity. Given the volatility of exchange rates, we cannot assure you that we will be able to effectively manage our currency transaction and/or translation risks. It is possible that volatility in currency exchange rates could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition or results of operations. We have experienced and expect to experience economic loss and a negative impact on earnings from time to time as a result of foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations. See "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
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and Results of Operations – Effects of Currency Fluctuations and Inflation," and "Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk."
Our overall success as a global business depends, in part, upon our success in differing economic and political conditions. We cannot assure you that we will continue to succeed in developing and implementing policies and strategies that are effective in each location where we do business.

The Company is subject to numerous laws and regulations with which we must comply in order to operate our business and obtain contracts with governmental entities.
Our highway deicing customers principally consist of municipalities, counties, states, provinces and other governmental entities in North America and the U.K. This product line represented approximately 47% of our annual sales in 2015. We are required to comply with numerous laws and regulations administered by federal, state, local and foreign governments relating to, but not limited to, the production, transporting and storing of our products, as well as the commercial activities conducted by our employees and our agents. Failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations could preclude us from conducting business with governmental agencies and lead to penalties, injunctions, civil remedies or fines.

Environmental laws and regulation may subject us to significant liability and could require us to incur additional costs in the future.
We are subject to numerous business, environmental and health and safety laws, and regulations in the countries in which we do business. They include laws and regulations relating to land reclamation and remediation of hazardous substance releases, and discharges to soil, air and water with which we must comply to effectively operate our business. Environmental laws and regulations with which we currently comply may become more stringent and could require material expenditures for continued compliance.  Environmental remediation laws, such as CERCLA, impose liability, without regard to fault or to the legality of a party’s conduct, on certain categories of persons (known as "potentially responsible parties" or "PRPs") who are considered to have contributed to the release of "hazardous substances" into the environment. Although we are not currently incurring material liabilities pursuant to CERCLA, in the future we may incur material liabilities under CERCLA and other environmental cleanup laws, with regard to our current or former facilities, adjacent or nearby third-party facilities, or off-site disposal locations. Under CERCLA, or its various state analogues, one party may, under some circumstances, be required to bear more than its proportional share of cleanup costs at a site where it has liability if payments cannot be obtained from other responsible parties. Liability under these laws involves inherent uncertainties. Violations of environmental, health and safety laws are subject to civil, and in some cases, criminal sanctions.
In the past, we have received notices from governmental agencies that we may be a PRP at certain sites under CERCLA or other environmental cleanup laws. In some cases, we have entered into "de minimis" settlement agreements with the U.S. governmental agencies with respect to certain CERCLA sites, pursuant to which we have made one-time cash payments and received statutory protection from future claims arising from those sites. At other sites for which we have received notice of potential CERCLA liability, we have provided information to the EPA that we believe demonstrates that we are not liable and the EPA has not asserted claims against us with respect to such sites. In some instances, we have agreed, pursuant to consent orders or agreements with the appropriate governmental agencies, to undertake investigations, which currently are in progress, to determine whether remedial action may be required to address such contamination. At other locations, we have entered into consent orders or agreements with appropriate governmental agencies to perform remedial activities that will address identified site conditions.
At present, we are not aware of any sites for which we expect to receive a notice from the EPA of potential CERCLA liability that would have a material effect on our financial condition or results of operations. However, based on past operations, we may receive such notices in the future for issues at sites of which we are currently unaware. We currently do not expect our known environmental liabilities and site conditions, individually or in the aggregate, to have a material adverse impact on our financial position. However, material expenditures could be required in the future to remediate the contamination at these or at other current or former sites.
We have also developed alternative mine uses. For example, we sold an excavated portion of our salt mine in the U.K. to a subsidiary of Veolia, a business with operations in the waste management industry. That business is permitted by the jurisdictional environmental agency to securely dispose of certain stable types of hazardous waste in the area of the salt mine owned by them for which they pay us fees. We believe that the mine is stable and provides a secure disposal location separate from our mining and records management operations. However, we recognize that any temporary or permanent storage of hazardous waste may involve risks to the environment. Although we believe that we have taken these risks into account during our planning process, and Veolia is required by U.K. statute to maintain adequate security for any potential closure obligation, it is possible that material expenditures could be required in the future to further reduce this risk or to remediate any future contamination.
Continued government and public emphasis on environmental issues, including climate change, can be expected to result in increased future investments for environmental controls at ongoing operations, which would be charged against income from future operations. The U.S. has announced that reporting requirements for the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and federal climate change legislation is possible in the future in the U.S., while Canada has already committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Future environmental laws and regulations applicable to our operations may require substantial capital expenditures


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
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and may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. For more information, see Item 1, "Business – Environmental, Health and Safety Matters."

Our indebtedness could adversely affect our financial condition and impair our ability to operate our business. 
As of December 31, 2015, Compass Minerals had $727.0 million of outstanding indebtedness, consisting of $250.0 million of senior notes ("4.875% Senior Notes") and approximately $477.0 million of borrowings under a senior secured term loan. Our indebtedness could have important consequences, including the following:
 
it may limit our ability to borrow money or sell stock to fund our working capital, capital expenditures and debt service requirements;

it may limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business;

we may be more highly leveraged than some of our competitors, which may place us at a competitive disadvantage;

it may make us more vulnerable to a downturn in our business or the economy;

it may require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to the repayment of our indebtedness, thereby reducing the availability of our cash flow for other purposes; and

it may materially and adversely affect our business and financial condition, if we are unable to service our indebtedness or obtain additional financing, as needed.

Although our operations are conducted through our subsidiaries, none of our subsidiaries are obligated to make funds available to CMI for payment on our 4.875% Senior Notes or to pay dividends on our capital stock. Accordingly, CMI’s ability to make payments on our 4.875% Senior Notes and distribute dividends to our stockholders is dependent on the earnings and the distribution of funds from our subsidiaries to CMI, and our compliance with the terms of our senior secured credit facilities, including the total leverage ratio and interest coverage ratio. We cannot assure you that we will remain in compliance with these ratios, nor can we assure you that the agreements governing the current and future indebtedness of our subsidiaries will permit our subsidiaries to provide CMI with sufficient dividends, distributions or loans to fund scheduled interest and principal payments on the 4.875% Senior Notes, when due. If we consummate an acquisition, including any potential acquisition of the remaining ownership of Produquímica, our debt service requirements could increase. Furthermore, we may need to refinance all or a portion of our indebtedness on or before maturity. However, we cannot assure you that we will be able to refinance any of our indebtedness on commercially reasonable terms or at all.

An increase in interest rates would have an adverse effect on our interest expense under our senior secured credit facilities. Additionally, the restrictive covenants in the agreements governing our indebtedness may limit our ability to pursue our business strategies or may require accelerated payments on our debt.
We pay variable interest on our senior secured credit facilities based on either the Eurodollar rate or the alternate base rate.  Significant increases in interest rates will adversely affect our cost of debt.
Our senior secured credit facilities and indebtedness limit our ability and the ability of our subsidiaries, among other things, to:
 
incur additional indebtedness or contingent obligations;

pay dividends or make distributions to our stockholders;

repurchase or redeem our stock;

make investments;

grant liens;

enter into transactions with our stockholders and affiliates;

sell assets; and

acquire the assets of, or merge or consolidate with, other companies.

Our senior secured credit facilities require us to maintain financial ratios. These financial ratios include an interest coverage ratio and a total leverage ratio. Although we have historically been able to maintain these financial ratios, we may not be able to maintain these ratios in the future. Covenants in our senior secured credit facilities may also impair our ability to finance future operations or capital needs or to enter into acquisitions or joint ventures or engage in other favorable business activities.


 
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If we default under our senior secured credit facilities, the lenders could require immediate payment of the entire principal amount. A default includes nonpayment of principal, interest, fees or other amounts when due; a change of control; default under agreements governing our other indebtedness in which the principal amount exceeds $30 million; material judgments in excess of $30 million; failure to provide timely audited financial statements; or inaccuracy of representations and warranties. Any default under our senior secured credit facilities or agreements governing our other indebtedness could lead to an acceleration of principal payments under our other debt instruments that contain cross-acceleration or cross-default provisions. If the lenders under our senior secured credit facilities were to require immediate repayment, we would need to obtain new borrowings to be able to repay them immediately, or we could not repay our other indebtedness, which may also become immediately due. We may be able to obtain new borrowings to finance these accelerated payment requirements, however there can be no assurance that such borrowings could be obtained at terms which are acceptable to us. Our ability to comply with these covenants and restrictions contained in our senior secured credit facilities and other agreements governing our other indebtedness may be affected by changes in the economic or business conditions or other events beyond our control.

The acquisition of the remaining ownership of Produquímica by early 2019 at the latest is part of our long-term strategic plan. The timing of the completion of our acquisition or our inability or failure to complete the acquisition could impact our financial performance.
In December 2015, we completed the acquisition of a 35% equity stake in Produquímica, a Brazilian corporation, for approximately $114.1 million U.S. dollars at closing. Produquímica is one of Brazil’s leading manufacturers and distributors of specialty plant nutrients. The investment includes a path to full ownership by early 2019 at the latest. The majority shareholders have a put option that may be exercised in October of 2016, 2017, or 2018 to sell the remaining stake in Produquímica. The funding and closing of the acquisition would occur early the following year, subject to regulatory review. We also have a call option that is exercisable in October 2018. The option exercise price is based on full-year adjusted EBITDA at a multiple of 9.4x (2016), 9.3x (2017) or 9.2x (2018). Currently, we estimate that the cost to purchase the remaining equity in Produquímica would be approximately $230 to $250 million U.S. dollars, based upon their projected performance and exchange rates. The occurrence of any event, change or other circumstance that would result in the termination or delay of our acquisition of the remaining Produquímica ownership stake by early 2019 at the latest, including our inability to complete the acquisition due to our failure or the failure of Produquímica or its majority shareholders to satisfy any of the conditions to closing, could impact our ability to achieve our long-term strategic goals. In addition, we cannot assure you that we will be able to obtain the necessary financing on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Our failure to complete the acquisition, including any failure to complete the acquisition due to a failure to obtain financing on commercially reasonable terms or at all, could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.

If we cannot successfully integrate acquired businesses, our growth may be limited and our financial condition adversely affected.
Our business strategy includes supplementing internal growth with acquisitions of complementary businesses. We may be unable to identify suitable businesses to acquire. We compete with other potential buyers for complementary businesses. Competition and regulatory considerations may result in fewer acquisition opportunities. If we cannot complete acquisitions, our growth may be limited and our financial condition may be adversely affected. Completion of acquisitions, including our plan for full ownership of Produquímica by early 2019 at the latest, could disrupt the plans, financial condition and performance of our business, Produquímica or both.
The information we obtain about an acquisition target may be limited, and we cannot assure you that an acquisition will perform as expected or positively impact our financial performance. Additionally, we may not be able to successfully integrate the acquired businesses. Any potential acquisition, including the acquisition of full ownership of Produquímica by early 2019, involves risk, including the ability to effectively integrate the acquired technologies, operations and personnel into our existing business; the diversion of capital and management’s attention from other areas of the business; and the impact of debt obligations resulting from acquisitions.

Our intellectual property may be misappropriated or subject to claims of infringement.
We consider our intellectual property rights, including patents, trademarks and trade secrets, to be a valuable aspect of our business. We attempt to protect our intellectual property rights primarily through a combination of patent, trademark and trade secret protection. Our patents, which vary in duration, may not preclude others from selling competitive products or using similar production processes.  We cannot provide assurances that pending applications for protection of our intellectual property rights will be approved. Our trademark registrations may not prevent our competitors from using similar brand names. We also rely on trade secret protection to guard confidential unpatented technology, and when appropriate, we require that employees and third-party consultants or advisors enter into confidentiality agreements. These agreements may not provide meaningful protection for our trade secrets, know-how or other proprietary information in the event of any unauthorized use, misappropriation or disclosure. It is possible that our competitors could independently develop the same or similar technology or otherwise obtain access to our unpatented technology. 


 
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2015 FORM 10-K


Many of our important brand names are registered as trademarks in the U.S. and foreign countries. The laws in certain foreign countries in which we do business do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as United States law. As a result, these factors could weaken our competitive advantage with respect to our products, services and brands in foreign jurisdictions, which could adversely affect our financial performance.
We cannot guarantee that our intellectual property rights would be upheld if challenged. Such claims, if proven, could materially and adversely affect our business and may lead to the impairment of the amounts recorded for goodwill and other intangible assets. If we are unable to maintain the proprietary nature of our technologies, we may lose any competitive advantage provided by our intellectual property. In addition, although any such claims may ultimately prove to be without merit, the necessary management attention to and legal costs associated with defending our intellectual property rights could be significant.

We may be restricted from paying cash dividends on our common stock in the future.
We currently declare and pay regular quarterly cash dividends on our common stock. Any payment of cash dividends will depend upon our financial condition, earnings, legal requirements, restrictions in our debt agreements, and other factors deemed relevant by our board of directors. The terms of our senior secured credit facilities limit regular annual dividends to $80 million plus 50% of the preceding year net income, as defined, and may restrict us from paying cash dividends on our common stock if our total leverage ratio exceeds 4.50x (actual ratio of 2.3x as of December 31, 2015) or if a default or event of default has occurred and is continuing under the credit facilities. We cannot assure you that the agreements governing our current and future indebtedness, including our senior secured credit facilities, will permit us to pay dividends on our common stock.

ITEM 1B.    UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
 
None.

ITEM 2.    PROPERTIES
 
Information regarding our plant and properties is included in Item 1, "Business," of this report.

ITEM 3.    LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
 
The Company, from time to time, is involved in various routine legal proceedings. These primarily involve commercial claims, product liability claims, personal injury claims and workers’ compensation claims. We cannot predict the outcome of these lawsuits, legal proceedings and claims with certainty. Nevertheless, we believe that the outcome of these proceedings, even if determined adversely, would not have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. We are also involved in legal and administrative proceedings and claims of various types from normal activities. We do not believe that these actions will have a material adverse financial effect on us. Furthermore, while any litigation contains an element of uncertainty, management presently believes that the outcome of each such proceeding or claim, which is pending or known to be threatened, or all of them combined, will not have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, cash flows or financial position.

ITEM 4.    MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
 
Information concerning mine safety violations or other regulatory matters required by Section 1503(a) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and Item 104 of Regulation S-K is included in Exhibit 95 to this annual report.



 
24

 

COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


Executive Officers of the Registrant
The following table sets forth the name, age and position of each person who is an executive officer as of December 31, 2015, and as of the date of the filing of this report.
Name
 
Age
 
Position
Steven N. Berger
 
50
 
Senior Vice President, Corporate Services
Keith E. Espelien
 
56
 
Senior Vice President, Plant Nutrition
Matthew J. Foulston
 
51
 
Chief Financial Officer
David J. Goadby
 
61
 
Senior Vice President, Corporate Development
Jack C. Leunig
 
62
 
Senior Vice President, Operations
Francis J. Malecha
 
51
 
President, Chief Executive Officer and Director
Robert D. Miller
 
58
 
Senior Vice President, Salt
Diana C. Toman
 
37
 
Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary

Steven N. Berger joined Compass Minerals as Vice President, Human Resources in March 2013 and was appointed Senior Vice President, Corporate Services in June 2013. From 2008 and until joining the Company, Mr. Berger was employed at Viterra, Inc., most recently as Senior Vice President, Corporate Services. Prior to that, he worked as a Senior Executive at Accenture and a Principal at A.T. Kearney.

Keith E. Espelien was named Senior Vice President, Specialty Fertilizer (later renamed Plant Nutrition) in June 2013. Mr. Espelien returned to Compass Minerals in 2011 as Vice President of Consumer and Industrial Manufacturing in the Salt Division, having previously served the company from 1992 to 2000 in sales, manufacturing and quality roles. From 2000 to 2011, Mr. Espelien was a Vice President of Operations and Vice President of Development and Technology for Mississippi Lime Company in St. Louis, Mo. Effective on February 4, 2016, Mr. Espelien resigned his position as Senior Vice President, Plant Nutrition.

Matthew J. Foulston was appointed Chief Financial Officer of Compass Minerals in December 2014. Prior to joining the Company, he served from 2012 to 2014 as Senior Vice President of Operations and Corporate Finance at Navistar International and previously served from 2009 to 2012 as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Navistar Truck. Mr. Foulston has also held executive and leadership positions with Mazda North America and Ford Motor Company.

David J. Goadby was named Vice President – Strategic Development for Compass Minerals in October 2006 and was named Senior Vice President, Strategy in June 2013. Prior to this position, he served as Vice President of the Company since August 2004, Vice President of CMI since February 2002 and as the Managing Director of Salt Union Ltd., our U.K. subsidiary, since April 1994, under the management of Harris Chemical Group. In February 2016, the Company internally announced Mr. Goadby's intention to resign from Compass Minerals effective August, 2016.

Jack C. Leunig was named Senior Vice President, Operations in June 2013. Mr. Leunig joined Compass Minerals in 2008 as Vice President of Manufacturing and Engineering. Prior to joining Compass Minerals, he was with Johns Manville, most recently as Vice President of Operations for the firm's Building Products Division. Prior to joining Johns Manville in 2004, Mr. Leunig held manufacturing and supply chain leadership roles with Great Lakes Chemical, Allied-Signal/Honeywell International and General Electric.

Francis J. Malecha joined Compass Minerals as President and Chief Executive Officer in January 2013.  Previously, Mr. Malecha served from 2007 to 2012 as Chief Operating Officer – Grain at Viterra, Inc.  He was employed with Viterra, Inc. beginning in 2000, holding positions in operations and merchandising management.  From 1986 to 2000, Mr. Malecha held increasingly responsible positions in financial management and merchandising at General Mills, Inc.

Robert D. Miller joined Compass Minerals as Senior Vice President, Salt in November 2013. Prior to joining the Company, he served as U.S. Country Manager for Glencore, a Switzerland-based commodity trading and mining company from April 2013 until November 2013. Mr. Miller was Senior Vice President for Viterra, responsible for the North American Grain Division from June 2007 until April 2013. He has also held leadership positions with General Mills and Yakima Chief.

Diana C. Toman joined Compass Minerals as Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary in November 2015. Prior to joining the Company, Ms. Toman was employed by General Cable Corporation from 2010 to 2015, most recently as Vice President, Strategy and General Counsel, Asia Pacific and Africa. Ms. Toman served as legal counsel with increasing levels of responsibility at Gardner Denver, Inc. from 2006 to 2010 and Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. from 2003 to 2006. She began her career as an attorney with the law firm of Levy & Craig, P.C.


 
25

 

COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


PART II
 
ITEM 5.    MARKET FOR THE REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER
MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
 
PRICE RANGE OF COMMON STOCK
 
Our common stock, $0.01 par value, trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "CMP". The following chart sets forth the high and low closing prices per share for the four quarters ended December 31, 2015, and 2014:


HOLDERS
 
On February 17, 2016, the number of holders of record of our common stock was 84.

DIVIDEND POLICY
 
We intend to pay quarterly cash dividends on our common stock. The declaration and payment of future dividends to holders of our common stock will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend upon many factors, including our financial condition, earnings, legal requirements, restrictions in our debt agreements, and other factors our board of directors deems relevant.  See Item 1A., "Risk Factors – We may be restricted from paying cash dividends on our common stock in the future."
The Company paid quarterly dividends totaling $2.64 and $2.40 per share in 2015 and 2014, respectively. On February 4, 2016, our board of directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.695 per share on our outstanding common stock, an increase of 5% from the quarterly cash dividends paid in 2015 of $0.66 per share. The dividend will be paid on March 15, 2016, to stockholders of record as of the close of business on February 29, 2016.



 
26

 

COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


EQUITY COMPENSATION PLAN INFORMATION
 
The following table sets forth information at December 31, 2015, concerning our common stock authorized for issuance under out equity compensation plan:
 
Number of shares
Weighted-average
Number of securities
 
to be issued
exercise price of
available for issuance
Plan category
upon exercise
outstanding securities
under plan
Equity compensation plans approved by shareholders
 
 
 
Stock options
353,087

$
83.94

 
Restricted stock units
91,008

 N/A

 
Performance stock units
77,365

N/A

 
Deferred stock units
66,158

 N/A

 
Total securities under approved plans (a)
587,618

 
2,978,340

Equity compensation plans not approved by shareholders (b):
 
 
Deferred stock units
22,864

 N/A

 
Total
610,482

 
2,978,340


(a) In 2015, shareholders approved the 2015 Incentive Award Plan. No new awards will be made under the 2005 Incentive Award Plan subsequent to the approval of the 2015 Incentive Award Plan.
(b) For 2007 and earlier years, common stock issued to directors as compensation was allocated under the 2004 Directors Deferred Share Plan. In 2008, we began issuing director compensation shares under the equity plans approved by shareholders. No awards will be granted under the 2004 Directors Deferred Share Plan.



 
27

 

COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


ITEM 6.    SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
 
The information included in the following table should be read in conjunction with "Item 7 – Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" and the Consolidated Financial Statements and accompanying Notes thereto included elsewhere in this annual report.
 
 
For the Year Ended December 31,
(Dollars in millions, except share data)
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
 
2012
 
2011
Statement of Operations Data:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sales
 
$
1,098.7

 
$
1,282.5

 
$
1,129.6

 
$
941.9

 
$
1,105.7

Shipping and handling cost
 
261.5

 
337.7

 
301.7

 
238.1

 
293.8

Product cost (a),(c)
 
433.1

 
449.1

 
471.5

 
414.7

 
440.6

Depreciation, depletion and amortization (b)
 
78.3

 
78.0

 
73.0

 
64.5

 
64.7

Selling, general and administrative expenses
 
108.7

 
110.4

 
100.4

 
93.9

 
94.5

Operating earnings (c)
 
221.4

 
311.0

 
185.6

 
133.2

 
215.3

Interest expense
 
21.5

 
20.1

 
17.9

 
18.2

 
21.0

Net earnings from continuing operations  (c)
 
159.2

 
217.9

 
130.8

 
88.9

 
149.0

Net earnings available for common stock (c)
 
158.2

 
216.4

 
129.8

 
87.8

 
146.7

Share Data:
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Weighted-average common shares outstanding (in thousands):
 
 

 
 

 
 

Basic
 
33,677

 
33,557

 
33,403

 
33,109

 
32,906

Diluted
 
33,692

 
33,581

 
33,420

 
33,135

 
32,934

Net earnings from continuing operations per share:
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Basic
 
$
4.70

 
$
6.45

 
$
3.89

 
$
2.65

 
$
4.46

Diluted
 
4.69

 
6.44

 
3.88

 
2.65

 
4.45

Cash dividends declared per share
 
2.64

 
2.40

 
2.18

 
1.98

 
1.80

Balance Sheet Data (at year end):
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Total cash and cash equivalents
 
$
58.4

 
$
266.8

 
$
159.6

 
$
100.1

 
$
130.3

Total assets
 
1,628.9

 
1,637.2

 
1,404.8

 
1,300.6

 
1,205.5

Total debt
 
727.0

 
626.4

 
478.6

 
482.3

 
482.7

Other Financial Data:
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Ratio of earnings to fixed charges (d)
 
6.95x

 
13.51
x
 
9.22
x
 
5.95
x
 
8.86
x

(a)
"Product cost" is presented exclusive of depreciation, depletion and amortization.
(b)
Depreciation, depletion and amortization include amounts also included in selling, general and administrative expenses.
(c)
In the third quarter of 2014, the Company recognized a gain of $83.3 million ($60.6 million, net of taxes) from an insurance settlement relating to damage it sustained as a result of a tornado that struck its rock salt mine and evaporation plant in Goderich, Ontario, in 2011. The Company recognized $82.3 million of the gain in product cost and $1.0 million of the gain in selling, general and administrative expenses in the consolidated statements of operations.  In the fourth quarter of 2013, the Company recognized a gain of $9 million ($5.7 million, net of taxes) from the settlement of an insurance claim resulting from a loss of mineral-concentrated brine due to an asset failure at its solar evaporation ponds in 2010 and a charge of $4.7 million ($2.8 million, net of taxes) from a ruling against the Company related to a labor matter. In 2012 and 2011, our product cost, operating earnings and net earnings were impacted by the effects of a tornado in Goderich, Ontario, that occurred in August 2011.
(d)
For the purposes of computing the ratio of earnings to fixed charges, earnings consist of earnings from continuing operations before income taxes and fixed charges. Fixed charges consist of interest expense, including the amortization of deferred debt issuance costs and the interest component of our operating rents.
 


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


ITEM 7.
MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
 
The statements in this discussion regarding the industry outlook, our expectations for the future performance of our business, and the other non-historical statements in this discussion are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, the risks and uncertainties described in Item 1A., "Risk Factors." You should read the following discussion together with Item 1A., "Risk Factors" and the Consolidated Financial Statements and Notes thereto included elsewhere in this annual report on Form 10-K.

COMPANY OVERVIEW
 
Based in the Kansas City metropolitan area, Compass Minerals is a leading producer of essential minerals, including salt, sulfate of potash specialty fertilizer ("SOP") and magnesium chloride. As of December 31, 2015, we operated 13 production and packaging facilities, including the largest rock salt mine in the world in Goderich, Ontario, Canada and the largest dedicated rock salt mine in the U.K. in Winsford, Cheshire.  Our salt business sells sodium chloride and magnesium chloride, which is used for highway deicing, dust control, consumer deicing, water conditioning, consumer and industrial food preparation, and agricultural and industrial applications. Our solar evaporation facility located in Ogden, Utah, is both the largest SOP production site and the largest solar salt production site in North America. In addition, we operate a records management business utilizing excavated areas of our Winsford salt mine with one other location in London, U.K., which provide services to businesses throughout the U.K. 

Company
Highlights
Total sales for 2015 were $1,098.7 million, a decrease of 14% from 2014, largely due to mild winter weather in the fourth quarter of 2015 and the weak agriculture market.
Net earnings were $159.2 million in 2015, a 27% decrease from 2014. Net earnings in 2014 of $217.9 million were positively impacted by an insurance settlement of $60.6 million (net of tax) related to the tornado that hit our facilities in Goderich, Ontario, in 2011.
Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (adjusted "EBITDA") was $299.7 million, a 2% decrease from 2014 adjusted EBITDA of $305.7 million.
Product cost of 46% of sales in 2015 increased from the product cost of 41% in 2014. The 2014 product cost was favorably impacted due to a gain of approximately $82.3 million from the aforementioned settlement.
Diluted earnings per share of $4.69 decreased by 27% from 2014 diluted earnings per share.
Completed the acquisition of a 35% equity stake in Produquímica Industria e Comercio S.A. ("Produquímica"), a leading Brazilian specialty plant nutrition company.

General
We contract bulk shipping vessels, barges, trucking and rail services to move products from our production facilities to distribution outlets and customers. Our North American salt mines and SOP production facilities are near either water or rail transport systems, which reduces our shipping and handling costs. However, shipping and handling costs still account for a relatively large portion of the total delivered cost of our products. Per-unit salt shipping and handling costs decreased in 2015 from the prior year primarily due to lower fuel costs, which was partially offset by trucking and rail supply constraints. In 2014, per-unit shipping and handling costs were higher due to trucking and rail supply constraints, which were partially offset by lower fuel costs.
Manpower costs, energy costs, packaging, and certain raw material costs, particularly potassium chloride ("KCl"), which can be used to make a portion of our SOP, deicing, and water conditioning products, are also significant. Our production workforce is typically represented by labor unions with multi-year collective bargaining agreements. Our energy costs result from the consumption of electricity with relatively stable, rate-regulated pricing, and natural gas, which can have significant pricing volatility. We manage the pricing volatility of our natural gas purchases with natural gas forward swap contracts up to 36 months in advance of purchases, helping to reduce the impact of short-term spot market price volatility.
We focus on building intrinsic value by improving our EBITDA and by improving our asset quality. We can employ our operating cash flow and other sources of liquidity to pay dividends, re-invest in our business, pay down debt and make acquisitions. Our goal is to achieve $500 million in EBITDA by 2018.

Salt Segment
Highlights
Salt segment sales were $849.0 million, a decrease of 15% from 2014 primarily due to mild winter weather in the fourth quarter of 2015.
Salt segment average selling price increased 2% from 2014.


 
29

 

COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


Salt segment volumes were down 17% from 2014.
Our operating results are impacted by the winter weather in the markets we serve. We assess the severity of winter weather compared to recent averages, using official government snow data and comparisons of our sales volumes to historical trends and other relevant data. Our assessment of the frequency of winter events in the three past winter weather seasons in the markets we serve are summarized below(a):
2013
Near average in the first quarter
Above average in the fourth quarter
2014
Above average in first quarter
Below average in the fourth quarter
2015
Slightly above average in the first quarter
Significantly below average in the fourth quarter

(a) The number of snow events reported may not directly correlate to Compass Minerals’ deicing results due to a variety of factors, including the relative significance to each city we serve within our market regions. The weather data should be used only as an indicator of year-to-year variations in winter weather conditions in our markets.

General
Salt is indispensable and enormously versatile with thousands of reported uses. In addition, there are no known cost-effective alternatives for most high-volume uses. As a result, our cash flows from salt have not been materially impacted through a variety of economic cycles. We are among the lowest-cost salt producers in our markets due to our high-grade quality salt deposits, which are among the most extensive in the world, and through the use of effective mining techniques and efficient production processes. Since the highway deicing business accounts for nearly half of our annual sales, our business is seasonal, therefore results and cash flows will vary depending on the severity of the winter weather in our markets.
Deicing products, consisting of deicing salt and magnesium chloride used by highway deicing and consumer and industrial customers, constitute a significant portion of our salt segment sales. We use inventory management practices to respond to the varying level of sales demand, which impacts our production volumes, the resulting per-ton cost of inventory, and ultimately profit margins, particularly during the second and third quarters when we build our inventory levels for the upcoming winter. Net earnings are typically lower during the second and third quarters than in the first and fourth quarters.
Not only does the weather affect our highway and consumer and industrial deicing salt sales volumes and resulting gross profit and cash flows, but it also impacts our inventory levels, which influences production volume, the resulting cost per ton, and ultimately our profit margins.

Plant Nutrition Segment
Highlights
Plant nutrition sales were $238.4 million, a decrease of 12% from 2014, primarily due to weakness in the agriculture market.
Plant nutrition average selling price increased by 12% from 2014.
Plant nutrition volumes decreased 21% from 2014 driven by weakness in the agriculture market.
Per-unit costs have been unfavorably impacted in 2015 by purchased KCl used to supplement the raw mineral feedstock produced through solar-evaporation at our Ogden, Utah, facility.

General
Our plant nutrition segment includes sales of specialty plant nutrition products including SOP and micronutrient and other products under our Wolf Trax product line. SOP, a specialty potassium fertilizer product which is also an ingredient in specialty fertilizer blends, is used as a potassium source for both high-value and chloride-sensitive crops and turf. The yields and quality of many high-value or chloride-sensitive crops are generally better when SOP is used as a potassium nutrient rather than KCl. Our SOP product is marketed under the brand name Protassium+. Our Wolf Trax product line is produced using proprietary and patented technologies.
Many factors influence the fertilizer market such as world grain and food supply, changes in consumer diets, general levels of economic activity, governmental food programs, and governmental agriculture and energy policies in the U.S. and around the world. Economic factors may impact the amount or type of crop grown in certain locations, or the type or amount of fertilizer product used. Worldwide consumption of potash and other crop nutrients has increased in response to growing populations and the need for additional food supplies. We expect the long-term demand for potassium and other plant nutrients to continue to grow as arable land per capita decreases, thereby necessitating crop yield efficiencies.
Our domestic sales of Protassium+ are concentrated in the Western and Southeastern U.S. where the crops and soil conditions favor the use of low-chloride potassium nutrients, such as SOP. Consequently, weather patterns and field conditions in these locations can impact the amount of plant nutrient sales volumes. Additionally, the demand for and market price of Protassium+ may be affected by the broader potash market and the economics of the specialty crops SOP serves.


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


Our SOP production facility in Ogden, Utah, the largest in North America and one of only four large-scale SOP solar brine evaporation operations in the world, utilizes naturally occurring brines in its production process. The brine moves through a series of solar evaporation ponds over a two- to three-year production cycle.
Since our production process relies on solar evaporation during the summer to produce SOP at our Ogden facility, the intensity of heat and wind speeds and the relative dryness of the weather conditions during that time impacts the amount of solar evaporation which occurs and, correspondingly, the amount of raw SOP mineral feedstock available to convert into finished product. We experienced heavy localized rainfall during the summer of 2014 which limited our deposit of raw materials and resulted in more purchased KCl and/or potassium feedstock in 2015.
In 2013, we began using KCl feedstock to supplement production. As the spread between market prices for SOP and KCl increased, the economics of producing SOP partly from KCl has improved for our unique KCl conversion process. While these KCl purchases increase our expected full-year product cost and reduce the resulting margin percentages, they also are expected to increase the amount of our gross profit. Future purchases of KCl will be based upon several factors, including but not limited to, the cost of utilizing the sourced KCl in our SOP process and SOP and KCl market prices. We currently expect to continue to supplement our pond-based SOP production as long as it is economically feasible to do so. The amount of these purchases will vary by our available pond-based feedstock and end-market demand.
Our SOP production in Saskatchewan, Canada, also purchases KCl, under a long-term supply agreement. One of the production methods uses the brine of Big Quill Lake, which is rich in sodium sulfate, and adds the purchased KCl to create high-purity SOP.

Investments
April 2014 - Wolf Trax Inc.
We purchased Wolf Trax Inc. (renamed "Compass Manitoba") for approximately $95.5 million Canadian dollars (approximately $86.5 U.S. dollars at closing).
The acquisition enhanced our position as a key resource for premium plant nutrition products based upon proprietary and patented technologies.
December 2015 - Produquímica
The investment in Produquímica was an all-cash transaction valued at approximately R$452.4 million (approximately $114.1 million U.S. dollars at closing).
The investment has been accounted for as an equity method investment in our financial statements.
This is a key step in our plant nutrition growth strategy and provides an attractive entry into Brazil's specialty plant nutrition market.
We expect that this investment will be accretive in its first year, net of our incremental $100 million debt financing.
The agreement also includes a path to full ownership by early 2019 at the latest.
Ogden Facility
Over the past several years, we have made investments to strengthen our solar-pond-based SOP production through upgrades to our processing plant and our solar evaporation ponds. Through these investments, we have been able to increase our annual solar harvest and extraction yield and thereby, our production capacity. Our current production capacity is 320,000 tons per year. We have identified opportunities and have begun to further expand our solar-pond-based SOP production capacity. After the completion of this additional expansion, we expect our SOP production capacity to be approximately 550,000 tons, including tons produced using KCl feedstock.

2016 Outlook
Assuming normal winter weather for the remainder of 2016, we expect salt segment sales volumes to surpass 2015 results.
The plant nutrition outlook continues to be negatively impacted by the overall weakness in the agriculture market, as well as increased imports of SOP driven largely by the current strength of the U.S. dollar.
Our 2016 plant nutrition selling prices will be negatively impacted in some geographies as we look to drive SOP sales volumes up to more normal levels.
We expect to benefit from improved plant nutrition production costs in the second half of 2016 after we sell through higher-cost KCl inventory from 2015.
In February 2016, we announced steps to align our inventories with market demand and we are undergoing a thorough review of our cost structure. This effort is expected to result in a restructuring charge in the first quarter of 2016 of approximately $4 million, or $0.07 per diluted share, related to a workforce reduction of 150 positions. A significant portion of this total results from our investment in continuous mining at its Goderich, Ontario location. We expect the majority of the workforce reduction to be completed by the end of 2016. We expect ongoing annualized savings of approximately $15 million beginning in 2018.


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
 
The following table presents consolidated financial information with respect to sales from our salt and plant nutrition segments for the years ended December 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013. Sales primarily include revenues from the sales of our products, or "product sales," and the impact of shipping and handling costs incurred to deliver salt and plant nutrition products to our customers.
The results of operations of the consolidated records management business and other incidental revenues include sales of $11.3 million, $9.7 million and $10.5 million for 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively. These revenues are not material to our consolidated financial results and are not included in the following table. The following discussion should be read in conjunction with the information contained in our Consolidated Financial Statements and the Notes thereto included in this annual report on Form 10-K.
 Sales
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Salt Sales (in millions)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Salt sales
 
$
849.0

 
$
1,002.6

 
$
920.5

Less: salt shipping and handling
 
239.1

 
309.3

 
280.7

Salt product sales
 
$
609.9

 
$
693.3

 
$
639.8

Salt Sales Volumes (thousands of tons)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Highway deicing
 
8,854

 
10,694

 
10,944

Consumer and industrial
 
2,215

 
2,596

 
2,321

Total tons sold
 
11,069

 
13,290

 
13,265

Average Salt Sales Price (per ton)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Highway deicing
 
$
58.62

 
$
57.37

 
$
53.19

Consumer and industrial
 
148.98

 
149.89

 
145.78

Combined
 
76.70

 
75.44

 
69.39

Plant Nutrition Sales (in millions)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Plant nutrition sales
 
$
238.4

 
$
270.2

 
$
198.6

Less: plant nutrition shipping and handling
 
22.4

 
28.4

 
21.0

Plant nutrition product sales
 
$
216.0

 
$
241.8

 
$
177.6

Plant Nutrition Sales Volumes (thousands of tons)
 
311

 
396

 
315

Plant Nutrition Average Price (per ton)
 
$
765

 
$
682

 
$
630

2015 vs. 2014
Salt Product Sales: Decreased 12% or $83.4 million
» Salt sales volumes declined 2.2 million tons or 17% due to lower highway and consumer deicing sales volumes as a result of milder winter weather experienced in the fourth quarter of 2015 when compared to the same period in the prior year.

» Lower sales volumes for North American highway and consumer deicing customers contributed approximately $123 million to the decrease in salt product sales.

» The decrease in North American salt volumes was partially offset by higher U.K. sales volumes.

» Unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates contributed approximately $24 million to the decrease in salt product sales.

» An increase of 2% in highway salt deicing average selling prices and lower per-unit shipping and handling costs compared to the prior year partially offset the decline in product sales.
 
2014 vs. 2013
Salt Product Sales: Increased 8% or $53.5 million
» Higher sales volumes for our consumer and industrial products contributed $49 million to the increase in salt product sales.

» Salt sales volumes increased due to higher highway and consumer deicing sales volumes principally due to the more severe winter weather experienced in the first quarter of 2014 in North America when compared to the same period in the prior year.

» The increase in salt volumes was offset by lower U.K. sales volumes due to the mild winter in that region.

» An increase of 8% in salt highway deicing average selling prices, due to higher contract sales in the latter half of 2014, contributed approximately $23 million to the increase in salt product sales.

» The increase in salt product sales was offset by differences in exchange rates used to translate our operations denominated in foreign currencies into U.S. dollars of approximately $13 million and the loss of a supply contract for our consumer and industrial products.


 
32

 

COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


2015 vs. 2014
Plant Nutrition Product Sales: Decreased 11% or $25.8 million
» Plant nutrition sales volumes declined 85,000 tons or 21% and contributed approximately $49 million to the decrease in plant nutrition product sales.

» The 12% increase in plant nutrition average selling price partially offset the decrease in plant nutrition product sales by approximately $23 million.
 
2014 vs. 2013
Plant Nutrition Product Sales: Increased 36% or $64.2 million
» Plant nutrition sales volumes increased 81,000 tons or 26% and contributed approximately $46 million to the increase in plant nutrition product sales.

» The acquisition of our Compass Manitoba business in 2014 contributed to the increase of 8% in our average selling prices when compared to 2013.

Gross Profit
2015 vs. 2014
Gross Profit: Decreased $91.3 million or 22%
Decreased 3 percentage points from 33% to 30% as a percentage of sales
» Approximately $83 million of the decrease in gross profit was due to the gain recognized in the salt segment in 2014 from the settlement of the insurance claim related to the tornado in Goderich, Ontario, in 2011.

» Unfavorable exchange rate contributed approximately $7 million to the decrease in salt gross profit.
  

» Salt gross profit was unfavorably impacted by lower sales volume for highway and consumer and industrial deicing products which were offset partially by higher salt sales realized.
  
» Lower gross profit for the plant nutrition segment contributed approximately $15 million to the decrease in gross profit primarily due to lower sales volumes.

» Gross profit for the plant nutrition segment was unfavorably impacted by lower plant nutrition sales volumes and an increase in per-unit production costs. Per-unit production costs increased as we purchased and consumed KCl and other mineral feedstock to supplement production due to the poor 2014 evaporation season.

» The decrease in plant nutrition gross profit was partially offset by higher realized average sales prices.
2014 vs. 2013
Gross Profit: Increased $135.4 million or 47%
Increased 8 percentage points from 25% to 33% as percentage of sales
» Gross profit for the salt segment contributed approximately $113 million to the increase in gross profit which included a settlement of $82.3 million for the insurance claim related to the tornado in Goderich, Ontario, in 2011.

» Gross profit for the salt segment was also favorably impacted by higher sales volumes for consumer and industrial products, higher deicing average selling prices and lower per-unit costs in 2014 due to higher production volumes at our North American rock salt mines.
  
» The increase in salt gross profit was offset partially by the impact of purchased rock salt to supplement our production, higher logistics costs and the impact of exchange rates used to translate our operations denominated in foreign currencies in U.S. dollars in 2014, which unfavorably impacted salt gross profit by $9 million.

» Gross profit for the plant nutrition segment contributed approximately $26 million primarily due to higher sales volumes.

» In addition, the acquisition of our Compass Manitoba business in April 2014 increased plant nutrition gross profit.

» Increases in plant nutrition gross profit were partially offset by higher use of purchased KCl in 2014, which increased per-unit costs and the impact of gain of $9 million recognized in 2013 from the settlement of an insurance claim resulting from a loss of mineral-concentrated brine due to an asset failure at our Ogden facility in 2010.



 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


Selling, General and Administrative ("SG&A") Expenses
2015 vs. 2014
SG&A: Decreased $1.7 million or 2%
Increased to 9.9% from 8.6% as a percentage of sales
» The decrease in expense was due to lower professional services expenses in both segments, which totaled approximately $2.8 million in comparison to the prior year.

» SG&A in 2015 was also impacted by lower incentive compensation in both segments and corporate and other, which totaled approximately $2.2 million.
  
» The decrease was partially offset by an increase in costs in corporate and other related to information technology and ongoing costs related to our Compass Manitoba business in our plant nutrition segment.
2014 vs. 2013
SG&A: Increased $10.0 million or 10%
Decreased to 8.6% from 8.9% as a percentage of sales
» The increase was primarily due to the acquisition and increased ongoing costs associated with the Compass Manitoba business in our plant nutrition segment which totaled $9.5 million.

» SG&A in 2014 was also affected by higher incentive compensation in both segments and corporate and other, which totaled approximately $1.8 million.

» The increases were partially offset by lower corporate salaries due to a reorganization of our management in 2013.

Interest Expense
2015 vs. 2014
Interest Expense: Increased $1.4 million to $21.5 million
» The increase was primarily due to the refinancing of our $100.0 million senior notes ("8% Senior Notes") with $250.0 million senior notes ("4.875% Senior Notes") in June 2014.
2014 vs. 2013
Interest Expense: Increased $2.2 million to $20.1 million
» The increase was primarily due to the refinancing of our $100.0 million senior notes with $250.0 million senior notes in June 2014.

Other Income, Net
2015 vs. 2014
Other Income, Net: Increased $13.7 million to $14.6 million
» Net foreign exchange gains increased from $6.6 million in 2014 to $13.9 million in 2015 and contributed to the year over year improvement.
  
» The increase was due in part to a $6.9 million charge relating to the refinancing of our senior notes in June 2014.
2014 vs. 2013
Other Income, Net: Decreased $5.5 million to $0.9 million
» The decrease in other income was primarily due to a charge of $6.9 million relating to the refinancing of our senior notes in June 2014.

» Net foreign exchange gains increased from $4.9 million in 2013 to $6.6 million in 2014.



 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


Income Tax Expense
2015 vs. 2014
*Income Tax Expense: Decreased $18.6 million to $55.3 million
» Decrease primarily due to lower pre-tax income.
 
2014 vs. 2013
*Income Tax Expense: Increased $30.6 million to $73.9 million
» Increase primarily due to higher pre-tax income.
 
*Our income tax provision in both periods differs from the U.S. statutory rate primarily due to U.S. statutory depletion, domestic manufacturing deductions, state income taxes, foreign income, mining and withholding taxes and interest expense recognition differences for tax and financial reporting purposes. Our effective tax rate was 26% in 2015 and 25% in both 2014 and 2013.

Liquidity and Capital Resources
Overview
Over the last several years, we have made significant investments in order to strengthen our operational capabilities. 
We continue to invest in our Goderich mine to increase our annual available salt production capability to 9.0 million tons as demand warrants. 
We have invested in our Ogden facility to strengthen our solar-pond-based SOP production through upgrades to our processing plant and our solar evaporation ponds. The objectives have included modifying our existing solar evaporation ponds to increase the annual solar harvest and increasing the extraction yield and processing capacity of our SOP plant. These improvements have increased our current annual solar-pond-based SOP production capacity to 320,000 tons. 
We have identified opportunities and have begun to further expand our solar pond-based SOP production capacity. After the completion of this additional expansion, we expect our SOP production capacity to be approximately 550,000 tons, including tons produced using KCl feedstock.
In 2012, we acquired the mining rights to approximately 100 million tons of salt reserves in the Chilean Atacama Desert. This reserve estimate is based upon an initial report. We will need to complete a feasibility study before we proceed with the development of this project to ensure our salt reserves are probable. The development of this project will require significant infrastructure to establish extraction and logistics capabilities. In the event that production begins, we will be required to pay the seller royalties on any tons produced. In 2015, prepaid royalty payments began and will be required until production activities begin.
In 2014, we completed the acquisition of Wolf Trax, Inc., a privately-held Canadian corporation (renamed "Compass Manitoba"). The acquisition enhanced our position as a key resource for premium plant nutrition products by adding innovative crop nutrient products based upon proprietary and patented technologies.
In December 2015, we completed the acquisition of a 35% equity stake in Produquímica, one of Brazil’s leading manufacturers and distributors of specialty plant nutrients. The all-cash transaction was valued at R$452.4 million (approximately $114.1 million U.S. dollars at closing), subject to customary post-closing adjustments. We acquired 6% of the common shares at closing and have approximately 29% of preferred shares that will be converted to common shares upon the settlement of certain post-closing adjustments, including possible additional consideration. The additional consideration will be based upon 2015 adjusted EBITDA, as defined in the agreements. Terms of the investment provide an opportunity for the Company to acquire the remainder of Produquímica by early 2019 at the latest.

As a holding company, CMI’s investments in its operating subsidiaries constitute substantially all of its assets. Consequently, our subsidiaries conduct all of our consolidated operations and own substantially all of our operating assets. The principal source of the cash needed to pay our obligations is the cash generated from our subsidiaries’ operations and their borrowings. Our subsidiaries are not obligated to make funds available to CMI. Furthermore, we must remain in compliance with the terms of our senior secured credit facilities, including the total leverage ratio and interest coverage ratio, in order to make payments on our 4.875% Senior Notes or pay dividends to our stockholders. We must also comply with the terms of our indenture, which limits the amount of dividends we can pay to our stockholders. We are in compliance with our debt covenants as of December 31, 2015. See Note 10 to our Consolidated Financial Statements for a discussion of our outstanding debt.
Historically, our cash flows from operating activities have generally been adequate to fund our basic operating requirements; ongoing debt service; and sustaining investment in property, plant and equipment. We have also used cash generated from operations to fund capital expenditures which strengthen our operational position, pay dividends, fund smaller acquisitions and repay our debt. We have been able to manage our cash flows generated and used across the Company to permanently reinvest earnings in our foreign jurisdictions or efficiently repatriate those funds to the U.S. As of December 31, 2015, we had $54.4 million of cash and cash equivalents (in the consolidated balance sheets) that was either held directly or indirectly by foreign subsidiaries. Due in large part to the seasonality of our deicing salt business, we experience large changes in our working capital requirements from quarter to quarter. Typically, our consolidated working capital requirements are the highest in the fourth quarter and lowest in the


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


second quarter. When needed, we fund short-term working capital requirements by accessing our $125 million revolving line of credit ("Revolving Credit Facility"). Due to our ability to generate adequate levels of domestic cash flow on an annual basis, it is our current intention to permanently reinvest our foreign earnings outside of the U.S. However, if we were to repatriate our foreign earnings to the U.S., we may be required to accrue and pay U.S. taxes in accordance with the applicable U.S. tax rules and regulations as a result of the repatriation. We review our tax circumstances on a regular basis with the intent of optimizing cash accessibility and minimizing tax expense.
In addition, the amount of permanently reinvested earnings is influenced by, among other things, the profits generated by our foreign subsidiaries and the amount of investment in those same subsidiaries. The profits generated by our domestic and foreign subsidiaries are, to some extent, impacted by the values charged on the transfer of our products between them. We calculate values charged on transfers based on guidelines established by a multi-national organization which publishes accepted tax guidelines recognized in all of the jurisdictions in which we operate, and those calculated values are the basis upon which our subsidiary income taxes, profits and cash flows are realized. Some of our calculated values have been approved by taxing authorities for certain periods, while the values for those same periods or different periods have been challenged by the same or other taxing authorities. While we believe our calculations are proper and consistent with the accepted guidelines, we can make no assurance that the final resolution of these matters with all of the relevant taxing authorities will be consistent with our existing calculations and resulting financial statements. Additionally, the timing for settling these challenges may not occur for many years. We currently expect the outcome of these matters will not have a material impact on our results of operations. However, it is possible the resolution could impact the amount of earnings attributable to our domestic and foreign subsidiaries, which could impact the amount of permanently reinvested earnings and the tax-efficient access to consolidated cash on hand in all jurisdictions, as well as future cash flows from operations.
See Note 8 to our Consolidated Financial Statements for a discussion regarding our Canadian tax reassessments.
As part of the Produquímica investment, the majority shareholders have a put option that may be exercised in October of 2016, 2017 or 2018 to sell the remaining equity stake in Produquímica. The funding and closing of the acquisition would occur early the following year, subject to regulatory review. We also have a call option that is exercisable in October 2018. The option exercise price is based on full-year EBITDA at a multiple of 9.4x (2016), 9.3x (2017) or 9.2x (2018). If the majority shareholders notify us of their intent to exercise, the expected closing date would be early 2017, subject to regulatory review. The majority shareholders have similar options and timing requirements to notify us of their intent to sell their equity stake in both 2017 and 2018. The Company's call option occurs in 2018. Currently, we estimate that the cost to purchase the remaining equity in Produquímica would be approximately $230 to $250 million U.S. dollars based upon their projected performance and current exchange rates.  In addition, we expect to assume debt denominated in Brazilian Reals of approximately $100 million U.S. dollars; however, the ultimate amount of consideration paid for the acquisition will be dependent upon the future performance of Produquímica and the exchange rate of the Brazilian Real to U.S. dollars. To fund the acquisition, we may need to obtain new financing, use other sources, cash on hand or any combination thereof. 
See Note 4 to our Consolidated Financial Statements for a discussion regarding a tornado that struck our salt mine and our salt mechanical evaporation plant in Goderich, Ontario, in August 2011.
In the fourth quarter of 2013, we recognized a gain and received cash totaling $9 million in product cost in our consolidated statements of operations and in operating activities in our consolidated statements of cash flows, respectively, from the settlement of a claim resulting from a loss of mineral-concentrated brine due to an asset failure at our solar evaporation ponds in 2010.
Principally due to the nature of our deicing business, our cash flows from operations are seasonal, with the majority of our cash flows from operations generated during the first half of the calendar year. When we have not been able to meet our short-term liquidity or capital needs with cash from operations, whether as a result of the seasonality of our business or other causes, we have met those needs with borrowings under our $125 million Revolving Credit Facility. We expect to meet the ongoing requirements for debt service, any declared dividends and capital expenditures from these sources. This, to a certain extent, is subject to general economic, financial, competitive, legislative, regulatory and other factors that are beyond our control.



 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


2015
2014
2013
Operating Activities:

» Working capital items were a use of operating cash flows of $108.5 million in 2015 compared to a source of operating cash flows of $4.5 million in the prior year.

» This working capital use of $108.5 million is primarily related to the mild winter weather in the fourth quarter of 2015 and a weak agriculture market.
» Net earnings increased $87.1 million from the prior year.

» This included a non-cash gain of $60.6 million (net of tax) related to the tornado insurance settlement which reduced our cash flows from operations.

» Working capital items were a source of operating cash flows of $4.5 million in 2014 compared to a source of $20.4 million in the prior year.
» Net earnings increased $41.9 million from the prior year.

» Working capital items were a source of operating cash flows of $20.4 million in 2013 compared to a use of operating cash flows of $36.8 million in the prior year.
Investing Activities:
» Net cash flows used by investing activities included $217.6 million of capital expenditures and an equity investment of $116.4 million.
» Net cash flows used by investing activities included $125.2 million of capital expenditures, partially offset by tornado insurance proceeds.

» We also acquired Wolf Trax, Inc. for $86.5 million in 2014.
» Net cash flows used by investing activities included $122.7 million of capital expenditures, partially offset by insurance advances related to the Goderich tornado.

» Capital expenditures included $15.0 million for replacement of property, plant and equipment damaged or destroyed by the tornado.
Financing Activities:
» The source of financing cash flows was primarily related to the new debt obtained to finance the investment in Produquímica of $100 million, partially offset by the payment of dividends of $89.4 million.
» The source of financing cash flows included the refinancing of our Senior Notes and proceeds received from stock option exercises of $7.5 million, partially offset by the payment of dividends of $80.7 million and debt payments of $3.9 million.
» Net cash flows used by financing activities included $73.1 million in dividend payments and $3.9 million of debt, partially offset by proceeds from stock option exercises of $10.6 million.



 
37

 

COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


Capital Resources
We believe our primary sources of liquidity will continue to be cash flow from operations and borrowings under our Revolving Credit Facility. We believe that our current banking syndicate is secure and believe we will have access to our entire Revolving Credit Facility. We expect that ongoing requirements for debt service and committed or sustaining capital expenditures will primarily be funded from these sources. See Note 4 to our Consolidated Financial Statements for a discussion of cash received related to a tornado that struck our mine and evaporation plant in Goderich, Ontario, in August 2011.
Our debt service obligations could, under certain circumstances, materially affect our financial condition and prevent us from fulfilling our debt obligations. See Item 1A., "Risk Factors – Our indebtedness could adversely affect our financial condition and impair our ability to operate our business." Furthermore, CMI is a holding company with no operations of its own and is dependent on its subsidiaries for cash flows. As discussed in Note 10 to the Consolidated Financial Statements, at December 31, 2015, we had $727.0 million of outstanding indebtedness consisting of $250.0 million 4.875% Senior Notes due 2024 and $477.0 million of borrowings outstanding under our senior secured credit agreement ("Credit Agreement"), including $4.5 million borrowed against our Revolving Credit Facility. Letters of credit totaling $5.6 million reduced available borrowing capacity under the Revolving Credit Facility to $114.9 million.  In 2016, we may borrow amounts under the Revolving Credit Facility or enter into additional financing to fund our working capital requirements, potential acquisitions and capital expenditures, and for other general corporate purposes.
Our ability to make scheduled payments of principal, to pay the interest on, to refinance our indebtedness, or to fund planned capital expenditures or acquisitions will depend on our ability to generate cash in the future. This, to a certain extent, is subject to general economic, financial, competitive, legislative, regulatory and other factors that are beyond our control. Based on our current level of operations, we believe that cash flow from operations and available cash, together with available borrowings under our Revolving Credit Facility, will be adequate to meet our liquidity needs over the next 12 months.
We have various foreign and state net operating loss ("NOL") carryforwards that may be used to offset a portion of future taxable income to reduce our cash income taxes that would otherwise be payable. We cannot make any assurance that we will be able to use all of our NOL carryforwards to offset future taxable income, or that the NOL carryforwards will not become subject to additional limitations due to future ownership changes. At December 31, 2015, the Company had approximately $3.6 million of gross foreign federal NOL carryforwards that have no expiration date, $1.7 million of gross foreign federal NOL carryforwards which expire in 2033 and $0.2 million of net operating tax-effected state NOL carryforwards which expire in 2033.
We have a defined benefit pension plan for certain of our current and former U.K. employees. Beginning December 1, 2008, future benefits ceased to accrue for the remaining active employee participants in the plan concurrent with the establishment of a defined contribution plan for these employees. Generally, our cash funding policy is to make the minimum annual contributions required by applicable regulations. Although the fair value of the plan's assets are slightly in excess of the accumulated benefit obligations, we expect to be required to use cash from operations above our historical levels to fund the plan in the future.

Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements
At December 31, 2015, we had no off-balance sheet arrangements that have or are likely to have a material current or future effect on our consolidated financial statements.



 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


Contractual Obligations
Our contractual cash obligations and commitments as of December 31, 2015, are as follows (in millions):

Payments Due by Period
Contractual Cash Obligations
 
Total
 
2016
 
2017
 
2018
 
2019
 
2020
 
Thereafter
Long-term Debt
 
$
727.0

 
$
4.9

 
$
472.1

 
$

 
$

 
$

 
$
250.0

Interest (a)
 
118.1

 
22.4

 
16.0

 
12.2

 
12.2

 
12.2

 
43.1

Operating Leases (b)
 
40.0

 
15.7

 
9.7

 
4.1

 
3.6

 
1.9

 
5.0

Unconditional Purchase Obligations (c)
 
190.6

 
57.6

 
35.0

 
33.0

 
32.5

 
32.5

 

Estimated Future Pension Benefit Obligations (d)
 
66.9

 
2.8

 
2.9

 
3.0

 
3.1

 
3.3

 
51.8

Total Contractual Cash Obligations
 
$
1,142.6

 
$
103.4

 
$
535.7

 
$
52.3

 
$
51.4

 
$
49.9

 
$
349.9

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Other Commitments
 
Total
 
2016
 
2017
 
2018
 
2019
 
2020
 
Thereafter
Letters of Credit
 
$
5.6

 
$
5.6

 
$

 
$

 
$

 
$

 
$

Bank Letter Guarantees (e)
 
44.1

 
44.1

 

 

 

 

 

Performance Bonds (e)
 
106.7

 
101.4

 
5.3

 

 

 

 

Total Other Commitments
 
$
156.4

 
$
151.1

 
$
5.3

 
$

 
$

 
$

 
$


(a)
Based on maintaining existing debt balances to maturity. Interest on the Credit Agreement varies with the Eurodollar rate. The December 31, 2015, blended rate of 3.1%, including the applicable spread, was used for this calculation. The amounts in the table do not include interest payments of approximately $1 million in 2016 and approximately $4 million each year thereafter which may be required to be deposited with the taxing authorities if other collateral arrangements cannot be made as long as the dispute remains outstanding. Note 8 to Consolidated Financial Statements provides additional information related to our Canadian tax reassessments.
(b)
We lease property and equipment under non-cancelable operating leases for varying periods.
(c)
We have long-term contracts to purchase certain amounts of electricity and a minimum tonnage of salt and KCl under purchase contracts. The price of the salt is dependent on the product purchased and has been estimated based on an average of the prices in effect for the various products at December 31, 2015, and adjusted based upon estimated price increases for 2016. The price of KCl is based upon contract rates. In addition, we have minimum throughput commitments in certain depots.
(d)
Note 9 to our Consolidated Financial Statements provides additional information.
(e)
Note 12 to our Consolidated Financial Statements provides additional information.

Sensitivity Analysis Related to EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA
 
Management uses a variety of measures to evaluate the performance of Compass Minerals. While the consolidated financial statements, taken as a whole, provide an understanding of our overall results of operations, financial condition and cash flows, we analyze components of the consolidated financial statements to identify certain trends and evaluate specific performance areas.  In addition to using U.S. GAAP financial measures, such as gross profit, net earnings and cash flows generated by operating activities, management uses EBITDA and EBITDA adjusted for items which management believes are not indicative of our ongoing operating performance ("Adjusted EBITDA"). Both EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA are non-GAAP financial measures used to evaluate the operating performance of our core business operations due to our resource allocation, financing methods and cost of capital, and income tax positions, which are managed at a corporate level apart from the activities of the operating segments, and the operating facilities are located in different taxing jurisdictions, which can cause considerable variation in net earnings. We also use EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA to assess our operating performance and return on capital, and to evaluate potential acquisitions or other capital projects. EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA are not calculated under U.S. GAAP and should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for net earnings, cash flows or other financial data prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP or as a measure of our overall profitability or liquidity. EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA exclude interest expense, income taxes and depreciation and amortization, each of which are an essential element of our cost structure and cannot be eliminated. Furthermore, Adjusted EBITDA excludes other cash and non-cash items including refinancing costs and other (income) expense. Our borrowings are a significant component of our capital structure and interest expense is a continuing cost of debt. We are also required to pay income taxes, a required and ongoing consequence of our operations. We have a significant investment in capital assets and depreciation and amortization reflect the utilization of those assets in order to generate revenues.  Consequently, any measure that excludes these elements has material limitations. While EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA are frequently used as measures of


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


operating performance, these terms are not necessarily comparable to similarly titled measures of other companies due to the potential inconsistencies in the method of calculation. The calculation of EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA as used by management is set forth in the table below (in millions).
 
 
For the Year Ended December 31,
 
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Net earnings
 
$
159.2

 
$
217.9

 
$
130.8

Interest expense
 
21.5

 
20.1

 
17.9

Income tax expense
 
55.3

 
73.9

 
43.3

Depreciation, depletion and amortization
 
78.3

 
78.0

 
73.0

EBITDA
 
$
314.3

 
$
389.9

 
$
265.0

Adjustments to EBITDA:
 
 

 
 

 
 

Gain from insurance settlement
 
$

 
$
(83.3
)
 
$
(9.0
)
Estimated costs of a legal ruling
 

 

 
4.7

Fees and premiums paid to redeem debt
 

 
4.0

 

Write-off of unamortized deferred financing fees and original issue discount
 

 
2.9

 

Other income, net
 
(14.6
)
 
(7.8
)
 
(6.4
)
Adjusted EBITDA
 
$
299.7

 
$
305.7

 
$
254.3



In connection with the refinancing of our 8% Senior Notes in 2014, the Company paid $4.0 million for call premiums and wrote-off $1.4 million of the Company’s unamortized deferred financing costs and approximately $1.5 million of original issue discount, each related to the 8% Senior Notes. In the third quarter of 2014, we settled our insurance claim relating to the damage sustained as a result of the tornado and recognized a gain of $83.3 million in our consolidated statements of operations. In the fourth quarter of 2013, we recognized a gain of $9 million from the settlement of an insurance claim resulting from a loss of mineral-concentrated brine due to an asset failure at our solar evaporation ponds in 2010 and a charge of $4.7 million for a ruling related to a labor matter in our consolidated statements of operations. EBITDA also includes other non-operating income, primarily foreign exchange gains (losses) resulting from the translation of intercompany obligations, interest income and investment income (loss) relating to our nonqualified retirement plan.
Our net earnings, EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA are impacted by other events or transactions that we believe to be important in understanding our earnings trends such as the variability of weather. The impact of weather has not been adjusted in the amounts presented above. In 2015, our results were unfavorably impacted by mild winter weather in the markets we serve. Conversely, our 2014 and 2013 operating results were favorably impacted by the winter weather in the markets we serve. 

Management’s Discussion of Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates

The preparation of the consolidated financial statements in conformity with U.S. GAAP requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities as of the reporting date and the reported amounts of revenue and expenses during the reporting period. Actual results could vary from these estimates. We have identified the critical


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


accounting policies and estimates that are most important to the portrayal of our financial condition and results of operations. The policies set forth below require management’s most subjective or complex judgments, often as a result of the need to make estimates about the effect of matters that are inherently uncertain.

Mineral Interests – As of December 31, 2015, we maintained $127.5 million of net mineral properties as a part of property, plant and equipment.  Mineral interests include probable mineral reserves. We lease mineral reserves at several of our extraction facilities. These leases have varying terms, and many provide for a royalty payment to the lessor based on a specific amount per ton of mineral extracted or as a percentage of revenue.
Mineral interests are primarily depleted on a units-of-production method based on third-party estimates of recoverable reserves. Our rights to extract minerals are generally contractually limited by time or lease boundaries. If we are not able to continue to extend lease agreements, as we have in the past, at commercially reasonable terms, without incurring substantial costs or incurring material modifications to the existing lease terms and conditions, if the assigned lives realized are less than those projected by management, or if the actual size, quality or recoverability of the minerals is less than the estimated probable reserves, then the rate of amortization could be increased or the value of the reserves could be reduced by a material amount.
 
Income Taxes Developing our provision for income taxes and analyzing our potential tax exposure items requires significant judgment and assumptions as well as a thorough knowledge of the tax laws in various jurisdictions. These estimates and judgments occur in the calculation of certain tax liabilities and in the assessment of the likelihood that we will be able to realize our deferred tax assets, which arise from temporary differences between the tax and financial statement recognition of revenue and expense, carryforwards and other items. Based on all available evidence, both positive and negative, the reliability of that evidence and the extent such evidence can be objectively verified, we determine whether it is more likely than not that all, or a portion of, the deferred tax assets will be realized.
In evaluating our ability to realize our deferred tax assets, we consider the sources and timing of taxable income, our ability to carry back tax attributes to prior periods, qualifying tax planning, and estimates of future taxable income exclusive of reversing temporary differences. In determining future taxable income, our assumptions include the amount of pre-tax operating income according to multiple federal, international and state taxing jurisdictions, the origination of future temporary differences, and the implementation of feasible and prudent tax planning. These assumptions require significant judgment about material estimates, assumptions and uncertainties in connection with the forecasts of future taxable income, the merits in tax law. and assessments regarding previous taxing authorities’ proceedings or written rulings, and, while they are consistent with the plans and estimates we use to manage the underlying businesses, differences in our actual operating results or changes in our tax planning, tax credits or our assessment of the tax merits of our positions could affect our future assessments.
In addition, the calculation of our tax liabilities involves uncertainties in the application of complex tax regulations in multiple jurisdictions. We recognize potential liabilities in accordance with applicable U.S. GAAP for anticipated tax issues in the U.S. and other tax jurisdictions based on our estimate of whether, and the extent to which, additional taxes will be due. If payment of these amounts ultimately proves to be unnecessary, the reversal of the liabilities would result in tax benefits being recognized in the period when we determine the liabilities are no longer necessary. If our estimate of tax liabilities proves to be less than the ultimate assessment, a further charge to expense would result. See Note 8 to our Consolidated Financial Statements for a further discussion of our income taxes.

Taxes on Foreign Earnings Our effective tax rate reflects the impact of undistributed foreign earnings for which no U.S. taxes have been provided because such earnings are planned to be reinvested indefinitely outside the U.S. Most of the amounts held outside the U.S. could be repatriated to the U.S., but would be subject to U.S. federal income taxes and foreign withholding taxes, less applicable foreign tax credits or deductions.

U.K. Pension Plan We have a defined benefit pension plan covering some of our current and former employees in the U.K.  The U.K. plan was closed to new participants in 1992. As we elected to freeze the plan, we ceased to accrue future benefits under the plan beginning December 1, 2008. We select the actuarial assumptions for our pension plan after consultation with our actuaries and consideration of market conditions. These assumptions include the discount rate and the expected long-term rates of return on plan assets, which are used in the calculation of the actuarial valuation of our defined benefit pension plans. If actual conditions or results vary from those projected by management, adjustments may be required in future periods to meet minimum pension funding or to increase pension expense or our pension liability. An adverse change of 25 basis points in our discount rate would have increased our projected benefit obligation as of December 31, 2015, by approximately $2.3 million and would decrease our net periodic pension benefit for 2016 by approximately $0.3 million. An adverse change of 25 basis points in our expected return on assets assumption as of December 31, 2015, would decrease our net periodic benefit for 2016 by approximately $0.2 million.
We set our discount rate for the U.K. plan based on a forward yield curve for a portfolio of high credit quality bonds with expected cash flows and an average duration closely matching the expected benefit payments under our plan. The assumption for the return on plan assets is determined based on expected returns applicable to each type of investment within the portfolio expected to be maintained over the next 15 to 20 years. Our funding policy has been to make the minimum annual contributions required by applicable regulations. However, we have made special payments during some years when changes in the business could


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


reasonably impact the plan’s available assets, and when special early-retirement payments or other inducements are made to pensioners. Contributions totaled $1.5 million, $1.6 million and $1.9 million during the years ended December 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively. If supplemental benefits were approved and granted under the provisions of the plan, or if periodic statutory valuations cause a change in funding requirements, our contributions could increase to fund all or a portion of those benefits. See Note 9 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for additional discussion of our pension plan.

Other Significant Accounting Policies – Other significant accounting policies not involving the same level of measurement uncertainties as those discussed above are nevertheless important to an understanding of our consolidated financial statements. Policies related to revenue recognition, allowance for doubtful accounts, valuation of inventory reserves, valuation of equity compensation instruments, derivative instruments and environmental accruals require judgments on complex matters.
 
Effects of Currency Fluctuations and Inflation
 
Our operations outside of the U.S. are conducted primarily in Canada and the U.K. Therefore, our results of operations are subject to both currency transaction risk and currency translation risk. We incur currency transaction risk whenever we or one of our subsidiaries enter into either a purchase or sales transaction using a currency other than the local currency of the transacting entity. With respect to currency translation risk, our financial condition and results of operations are measured and recorded in the relevant local currency and then translated into U.S. dollars for inclusion in our historical consolidated financial statements. Exchange rates between these currencies and the U.S. dollar have fluctuated significantly from time to time and may do so in the future. The majority of revenues and costs are denominated in U.S. dollars, with Canadian dollars and British pounds sterling also being significant. We generated 25% of our 2015 sales in foreign currencies, and we incurred 26% of our 2015 total operating expenses in foreign currencies. Additionally, we have $616.5 million of net assets denominated in foreign currencies. In 2013, the average rate for the U.S. dollar strengthened against the Canadian dollar and the British pound sterling, which had a negative impact on sales, operating earnings and Canadian dollar-denominated reported assets. The U.S. dollar weakened slightly against the British pound sterling as of the end of 2013, which had a favorable impact on British pound sterling-denominated reported assets. In 2014 and 2015, the average rate for the U.S. dollar strengthened against the Canadian dollar and the British pound sterling, which had a negative impact on sales, operating earnings and reported assets. Significant changes in the value of the Canadian dollar or the British pound sterling relative to the U.S. dollar could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and our ability to meet interest and principal payments on U.S. dollar-denominated debt, including borrowings under our senior secured credit facilities.
Although inflation has not had a significant impact on our operations, our efforts to recover cost increases due to inflation may be hampered as a result of the competitive industries in which we operate.

Seasonality

We experience a substantial amount of seasonality in our sales, primarily with respect to our deicing products. Consequently, sales and operating income are generally higher in the first and fourth quarters and lower during the second and third quarters of each year. In particular, sales of highway and consumer deicing salt and magnesium chloride products vary based on the severity of the winter conditions in areas where the product is used. Following industry practice in North America, we seek to stockpile sufficient quantities of deicing salt in the second, third and fourth quarters to meet the estimated requirements for the winter season.

Recent Accounting Pronouncements 

See Note 2 to our Consolidated Financial Statements for a discussion of recent accounting pronouncements.


ITEM 7A.    QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK
 
Our business is subject to various types of market risks that include, but are not limited to, interest rate risk, foreign currency translation risk and commodity pricing risk. Management may take actions to mitigate our exposure to these types of risks including entering into forward purchase contracts and other financial instruments. However, there can be no assurance that our hedging activities will eliminate or substantially reduce these risks. We do not enter into any financial instrument arrangements for speculative purposes.
 
Interest Rate Risk
 
As of December 31, 2015, we had $477.0 million of debt outstanding under our Credit Agreement, bearing interest at variable rates. Accordingly, our earnings and cash flows will be affected by changes in interest rates to the extent the principal balance is


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


unhedged. Assuming no change in the amount of term loan or Revolving Credit Facility outstanding, a 100 basis point increase in the average interest rate under these borrowings would have increased the interest expense related to our variable rate debt by approximately $4.8 million based upon our debt outstanding as of December 31, 2015. Actual results may vary due to changes in the amount of variable rate debt outstanding.
As of December 31, 2015, a significant portion of the investments in the U.K. pension plan are in bond funds. Changes in interest rates could impact the value of the investments in the pension plan.

Foreign Currency Risk
 
In addition to the U.S., we primarily conduct our business in Canada and the U.K. In December 2015, we completed our acquisition of a 35% equity stake in Produquímica, a Brazilian corporation. Our equity earnings in Produquímica and purchase options will be subject to foreign currency risk. Our operations are, therefore, subject to volatility because of currency fluctuations, inflation changes and changes in political and economic conditions in these countries. Sales and expenses are frequently denominated in local currencies, and results of operations may be affected adversely as currency fluctuations affect our product prices and operating costs or those of our competitors. We may engage in hedging operations, including forward foreign currency exchange contracts, to reduce the exposure of our cash flows to fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates. We do not engage in hedging for speculative investment purposes. Our historical results do not reflect any foreign currency exchange hedging activity. There can be no assurance that any hedging operations will eliminate or substantially reduce risks associated with fluctuating currencies. See Item 1A., "Risk Factors – Economic and other risks associated with international sales and operations could adversely affect our business, including economic loss and have a negative impact on earnings."
Considering our foreign earnings, a hypothetical 10% unfavorable change in the exchange rates compared to the U.S. dollar would have an estimated $0.9 million impact on operating earnings for the year ended December 31, 2015. Actual changes in market prices or rates will differ from hypothetical changes.

Commodity Pricing Risk: Commodity Derivative Instruments and Hedging Activities
 
We have a hedging policy to mitigate the impact of fluctuations in the price of natural gas. The notional amounts of volumes hedged are determined based on a combination of factors including estimated natural gas usage, current market prices and historical market prices. We enter into contractual natural gas price arrangements, which effectively fix the purchase price of our natural gas requirements up to 36 months in advance of the physical purchase of the natural gas. We may hedge up to approximately 90% of our expected natural gas usage. Because of the varying locations of our production facilities, we also enter into basis swap agreements to eliminate any further price variation due to local market differences. We have determined that these financial instruments qualify as cash flow hedges under U.S. GAAP. As of December 31, 2015, the amount of natural gas hedged with derivative contracts totaled 2.8 million MMBtus, of which 2.2 million expire within one year and 0.6 million expire in the following year.
Excluding natural gas hedged with derivative instruments, a hypothetical 10% adverse change in our natural gas prices during the year ended December 31, 2015, would have increased our cost of sales by approximately $0.4 million. Actual results will vary due to actual changes in market prices and consumption.
We are subject to increases and decreases in the cost of transporting our products due to variations in our contracted carriers’ cost of fuel, which is typically diesel fuel. We may engage in hedging operations, including forward contracts, to reduce our exposure to changes in our transportation cost due to changes in the cost of fuel in the future. Due to the difficulty in meeting all of the requirements for hedge accounting under current U.S. GAAP, any such cash flow hedges of transportation costs would likely be accounted for by marking the hedges to market at each reporting period.  Our historical results do not reflect any direct fuel hedging activity. There can be no assurance that any hedging operations will eliminate or substantially reduce the risks associated with changes in our transportation costs. We do not engage in hedging for speculative investment purposes.



 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


ITEM 8.    FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA
 
Description
Page
 
 
Reports of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm
45
 
 
Consolidated Balance Sheets as of December 31, 2015 and 2014
47
 
 
Consolidated Statements of Operations for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2015
48
 
 
Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2015
49
 
 
Consolidated Statements of Stockholders’ Equity for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2015
50
 
 
Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2015
51
 
 
Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements
52


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm


The Board of Directors and Stockholders of Compass Minerals International, Inc.

We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheets of Compass Minerals International, Inc. as of December 31, 2015 and 2014 and the related consolidated statements of operations, comprehensive income, stockholders’ equity and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2015. Our audits also included the financial statement schedule listed at Item 15(a)(2). These financial statements and schedule are the responsibility of the Company's management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on these financial statements and schedule based on our audits.

We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States). Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement. An audit includes examining, on a test basis, evidence supporting the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. An audit also includes assessing the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall financial statement presentation. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinion.

In our opinion, the financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the consolidated financial position of Compass Minerals International, Inc. at December 31, 2015 and 2014, and the consolidated results of its operations and its cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2015, in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. Also, in our opinion, the related financial statement schedule, when considered in relation to the basic financial statements taken as a whole, presents fairly in all material respects the information set forth therein.

We also have audited, in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States), Compass Minerals International, Inc.’s internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2015, based on criteria established in Internal Control-Integrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (2013 framework) and our report dated February 22, 2016 expressed an unqualified opinion thereon.


Kansas City, Missouri
/s/ Ernst & Young LLP
February 22, 2016
 


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm


The Board of Directors and Stockholders of Compass Minerals International, Inc.

We have audited Compass Minerals International, Inc.’s internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2015, based on criteria established in Internal Control-Integrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (2013 framework), (the COSO criteria). Compass Minerals International, Inc.’s management is responsible for maintaining effective internal control over financial reporting, and for its assessment of the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting included in the accompanying Management’s Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on the company’s internal control over financial reporting based on our audit.

We conducted our audit in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States). Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether effective internal control over financial reporting was maintained in all material respects. Our audit included obtaining an understanding of internal control over financial reporting, assessing the risk that a material weakness exists, testing and evaluating the design and operating effectiveness of internal control based on the assessed risk, and performing such other procedures as we considered necessary in the circumstances. We believe that our audit provides a reasonable basis for our opinion.

A company’s internal control over financial reporting is a process designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. A company’s internal control over financial reporting includes those policies and procedures that (1) pertain to the maintenance of records that, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of the assets of the company; (2) provide reasonable assurance that transactions are recorded as necessary to permit preparation of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, and that receipts and expenditures of the company are being made only in accordance with authorizations of management and directors of the company; and (3) provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention or timely detection of unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition of the company’s assets that could have a material effect on the financial statements.

Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Also, projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.

In our opinion, Compass Minerals International, Inc. maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2015, based on the COSO criteria.

We also have audited, in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States), the consolidated balance sheets of Compass Minerals International, Inc. as of December 31, 2015 and 2014, and the related consolidated statements of operations, comprehensive income, stockholders’ equity, and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2015 of Compass Minerals International, Inc. and our report dated February 22, 2016 expressed an unqualified opinion thereon.


Kansas City, Missouri
/s/ Ernst & Young LLP
February 22, 2016
 


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


Consolidated Balance Sheets
 
 
 
December 31,
(In millions, except share data)
 
2015
 
2014
ASSETS
 
 
 
 
Current assets:
 
 
 
 
Cash and cash equivalents
 
$
58.4

 
$
266.8

Receivables, less allowance for doubtful accounts of $1.3 in 2015 and $1.4 in 2014
 
147.8

 
213.0

Inventories
 
275.3

 
199.0

Deferred income taxes, net
 

 
9.7

Other
 
30.8

 
14.2

Total current assets
 
512.3

 
702.7

Property, plant and equipment, net
 
800.7

 
700.9

Intangible assets, net
 
85.3

 
106.2

Goodwill
 
58.1

 
68.5

Investment in equity investee
 
116.4

 

Other
 
56.1

 
58.9

Total assets
 
$
1,628.9

 
$
1,637.2

LIABILITIES AND STOCKHOLDERS' EQUITY
 
 

 
 

Current liabilities:
 
 

 
 

Current portion of long-term debt
 
$
4.9

 
$
3.9

Accounts payable
 
80.7

 
97.6

Accrued expenses
 
48.9

 
60.6

Accrued salaries and wages
 
15.2

 
24.4

Income taxes payable
 
14.8

 
44.4

Accrued interest
 
6.3

 
6.8

Total current liabilities
 
170.8

 
237.7

Long-term debt, net of current portion
 
722.1

 
622.5

Deferred income taxes, net
 
71.3

 
88.9

Other noncurrent liabilities
 
25.0

 
34.5

Commitments and contingencies (Note 12)
 


 


Stockholders' equity:
 
 

 
 

Common Stock:
 
 

 
 

$0.01 par value, authorized shares – 200,000,000; issued shares – 35,367,264
 
0.4

 
0.4

Additional paid-in capital
 
91.7

 
82.5

Treasury stock, at cost – 1,665,731 shares at December 31, 2015 and 1,757,997 shares at December 31, 2014
 
(3.2
)
 
(3.3
)
Retained earnings
 
659.1

 
589.5

Accumulated other comprehensive loss
 
(108.3
)
 
(15.5
)
Total stockholders' equity
 
639.7

 
653.6

Total liabilities and stockholders' equity
 
$
1,628.9

 
$
1,637.2

 
 
 
 
 

The accompanying notes are an integral part of the consolidated financial statements.


 
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COMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
2015 FORM 10-K


Consolidated Statements of Operations
 
 
 
For the Year Ended December 31,
(In millions, except share data)
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Sales
 
$
1,098.7

 
$
1,282.5

 
$
1,129.6

Shipping and handling cost
 
261.5

 
337.7

 
301.7

Product cost (Note 4)
 
507.1

 
523.4

 
541.9

Gross profit
 
330.1

 
421.4

 
286.0

Selling, general and administrative expenses
 
108.7

 
110.4

 
100.4

Operating earnings
 
221.4

 
311.0

 
185.6

Other (income) expense:
 
 

 
 

 
 

Interest expense
 
21.5

 
20.1

 
17.9

Other, net
 
(14.6
)
 
(0.9
)
 
(6.4
)
Earnings before income taxes
 
214.5

 
291.8

 
174.1

Income tax expense
 
55.3

 
73.9

 
43.3

Net earnings
 
$
159.2

 
$
217.9