MEMC Electronic Materials (WFR)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

May 09, 2012 5:30 pm ET


Christopher Chaney -

Ahmad R. Chatila - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Mark J. Murphy - Chief Financial officer, Principal Accounting officer and Senior Vice President


Thomas Yeh - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Stephen Chin - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Timothy M. Arcuri - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Vishal Shah - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Farhan Ahmad

Eric Gold

Hari Chandra Polavarapu

Sanjay Shrestha - Lazard Capital Markets LLC, Research Division

Scott Reynolds

Mehdi Hosseini - Susquehanna Financial Group, LLLP, Research Division



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Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to the MEMC's First Quarter Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to our host, Chris Chaney, Director of Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

Christopher Chaney

Good afternoon, and thank you for joining MEMC's first quarter 2012 results conference call. I am Chris Chaney, Director of Investor Relations. With me today are Ahmad Chatila, President and Chief Executive Officer; and Mark Murphy, Chief Financial Officer.

After my remarks, Ahmad will provide an overview of the significant events and commentary on the company's first quarter performance, and Mark will then review the financial results. Mark's discussion will reference slides that have been made available in the Investor Relations section of our website at Our results -- our discussion today will refer to certain non-GAAP financial measures. A reconciliation of these non-GAAP financial measures has been provided in our earnings press release financials.

Please note that this call will include forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from management's current expectations. We encourage you to review the Safe Harbor statement contained in the earnings release and in the slides published today for a more complete description.

And now, I will turn the call over to Ahmad Chatila, our Chief Executive Officer.

Ahmad R. Chatila

Thanks, Chris. Good afternoon, everyone. In my remarks today, I will discuss the performance of our 2 business units in the first quarter, provide an update on our restructuring and comment on our current positioning.

In our Semiconductor business, we believe the market bottomed in the first quarter and is now beginning to recover. We are seeing improved order volumes in the second quarter. We are fully committed to our Semiconductor business and will invest judiciously to further our market position. We are executing on our cost reduction plan and with improved efficiencies will lower our breakeven revenue level and increase profitability in the next up cycle. These actions will leave us well positioned to drive meaningful improvement in EBITDA and free cash flow generation as we move into the second half of 2012.

Our priorities in Semiconductor business for 2012 remain unchanged. We plan to continue to lower costs through manufacturing efficiencies, labor productivity and SG&A reductions. Also, expand capacity largely through increased factory productivity as well as prudent capital expenditures and finally, maintain our market share while optimizing price.

In our Solar Energy business, the market, while still volatile, is showing signs of stabilization. Price reductions continue but the rate of decline has slowed. Even so, we expect the market environment to remain challenging throughout 2012. Our Solar Energy business continues to focus on executing our pipeline of projects while reducing costs, improving efficiency and minimizing capital expenditures. These efforts and the favorable positioning of this business around the world continue to help us strengthen our position as a leader in the worldwide solar energy.

We are able to leverage the value chain and take advantage of low industry pricing for poly, wafers and modules. We maintain a strong solar project pipeline at around 3 gigawatts, while interconnecting another closed to 150 megawatts of projects in the first quarter.

Our track record enabled us to complete debt financing for 60 megawatts facility in Bulgaria. We are on track to sell this facility and other European projects this year. Our Solar Energy profile pipeline remains diverse and that broad portfolio helps us to maintain scale and use resiliency -- resilience on any specific geography.

Our priorities in the Solar Energy business for 2012 are as follows: one, reduce OpEx by over 30% with the consolidation of 2 divisions and a focused development spend; two, minimize capital expenditure in the upstream material business; three, drive leading-edge cost structure throughout the value chain; and finally, ramps [indiscernible] installation consistent with the balance sheet capacity.

Now I'm going to give you a quick update on the restructuring that we announced in December 2011. Our restructuring remains on track. We continue to implement best practices across sites as well as aggressive productivity initiatives. We have closed our Sherman, Texas wafering facility, moved additional equipment out of the St. Peters site, shuttered our Merano polysilicon facility; and ramped and improved performance in Ipoh, Malaysia, which is a site we moved assets to from higher cost locations. We have consolidated business units and have reduced headcount by more than 1,300. In Kuching, we continue to refine our technology while minimizing spend and the cost in our Meca [ph] JV continues to be world class. We move quickly and decisively on our restructuring and we continue to be focused on identifying additional opportunities for savings.

Lastly, we expect our liquidity to improve in 2012 with the sale of the European and other projects, recovery of the semiconductor market and our continued restructuring efforts. Mark will talk in more detail about our balance sheet and our focus on cash in 2012.

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