Minerals Technologies Inc. (NYSE:MTX) Q3 2020 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript
Oct 30, 2020 • 11:00 am ET
Douglas T. Dietrich
impacts from COVID-19, and that's largely how the quarter played out as we were prepared to respond to the volume recovery, which led to sequential sales growth in nearly all of our product lines.
Overall, we had a solid quarter from an operational and commercial standpoint. These results reflect our team's disciplined execution related to cost control, pricing and productivity, which resulted in higher sequential and year-over-year operating margins. We also demonstrate how our strong product portfolio and end market mix has enabled us to capture opportunities with existing and new customers.
From a financial perspective, total sales in the quarter were $388 million, an increase of about 9% sequentially, but still at lower levels compared to last year. As we indicated on our last call, our July sales were trending upwards and demand conditions in several markets continued to strengthen throughout the rest of the quarter. We generated $52 million of operating income and earnings per share were $0.92. In addition, we delivered $54 million in cash from operations, continuing our solid cash generation profile.
After experiencing volatile conditions in our businesses that serve industrial-related end markets through the second quarter, we saw considerable demand improvements in the third quarter, one with continued strength in our consumer-oriented product lines.
Let me touch on some of the highlights. Metalcasting business continued to rebound as our foundry customers in North America ramped up production to meet the demand increase in the automotive sector. At the end of the third quarter, our Metalcasting facilities were operating at about 95% of last year's levels, a noticeable improvement from the reduced levels seen earlier. In addition, penetration of our pre-blended products remains on a strong growth trajectory in China as sales increased 20% over last year and this momentum should continue moving forward.
Sales in our portfolio of consumer products which includes Pet Care, Personal Care, and Edible Oil Purification remained resilient, led by an 11% year-over-year growth in Pet Care. We continue to strengthen our robust private label Pet Care portfolio in North America and Europe and have expanded our presence through partnerships with several new customers.
Another area to highlight is our global PCC business which benefited from satellite restarts in India and North America, combined with an improved demand environment from the low levels in the second quarter. As we indicated on our last call, July volumes were trending approximately 15% higher compared to June, and these dynamics continued through the third quarter. Of note, Paper PCC sales in China continue to deliver a solid performance with 18% growth over last year. In addition, Specialty PCC sales increased sequentially as automotive and construction demand strengthened through the quarter and food and pharmaceutical applications remained at strong levels.
Other pockets of strength came in our Talc and GCC business as demand improved for our products used in residential and commercial construction, as well as automotive applications. And in our Refractories business, we see steel utilization rates increased in the U.S. from a