A rough winter could boost Compass shares: Barron's

NEW YORK Sun Sep 16, 2012 1:47pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Predictions of a nasty North American winter with heavy snowfall might revive the shares of Compass Minerals International Inc, a major maker of rock salt used to de-ice roads, financial weekly Barron's said on Sunday.

The Overland Park, Kansas-based company's results and shares have been bogged down after reduced rock salt demand from U.S. and Canadian cities and towns following the warmest winter in two decades, Barron's said.

Rock salt sales account for approximately 80 percent of Compass's annual revenues. It owns the world's biggest rock salt mine in Goderich, Ontario.

Compass also makes fertilizer for fruits, vegetables and nut trees.

About 90 percent of the time, an unusually warm winter with below-average snowfall is followed by one with 10 percent to 25 percent above-average snowfall, Barron's said, citing the forecasting firm of Weather Trends International.

If heavier snowfall occurs and rock salt demand rebounds this coming winter, Compass could earn $5.15 a share next year, up from an expected $3.43 this year and $4.79 last year, the Barron's report said.

This could raise its price/earnings multiple to up to 17 times its 2013 estimated earnings, up from the current 14 times. This means Compass stock could be worth about $90 a share, the paper said.

On Friday, Compass shares closed down 0.9 percent at $72.13. They have traded in a range from $63 to $81.29 in the past 52 weeks.

(Reporting by Richard Leong, editing by G Crosse)

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