Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc. (SCHN)

F3Q10 (Qtr End 05/31/2010) Earnings Call

June 30, 2010 5:00 PM ET


Rob Stone – Treasurer and Primary Investor Relations

Tamara Lundgren – Chief Executive Officer

Richard Peach – Chief Financial Officer


Eric Glover – Canaccord

Brent Thielman – D.A. Davidson

Torin Eastburn – CJS Securities

Luke Folta – Longbow Research

Tim Hayes – Davenport

Timna Tanners – UBS

Evan Kurtz – Morgan Stanley



Good day, ladies and gentlemen and thank you for standing by. And welcome to the Schnitzer Steel Third Quarter Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we’ll conduct the question-and-answer session and instructions will follow at that time. (Operator Instructions)

As a reminder, this conference may be recorded. And now, I’d like to turn the conference over to our host, Rob Stone. Sir, please go ahead.

Rob Stone

Thank you, Operator. Good afternoon. I’m Rob Stone, the company’s Treasurer and Primary Investor Relations contact. I would like to take a -- thank everyone for taking the time to join us today. In addition to today’s audio comments, we have prepared a set of slides, which were made available concurrently with our earnings press release about an hour ago. You can access the slides at -- through our website at if you haven’t already done so.

Before we get on to business, let me call your attention to the detailed Safe Harbor statements that are included in our press release of today in the slides accompanying this presentation and the company’s Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2009, and the quarterly report on Form 10-Q, which will be filed this afternoon.

These statements, in summary, say that in spite of management’s good faith, current opinions on various forward-looking matters circumstances can change and not everything we think will happen always happens. In addition, we have guidance regarding our outlook for the fourth quarter of 2010 in our press release and in this presentation, and subsequent to this call we will not be under any obligation to update our outlook.

With that, let me turn the call over now to Tamara Lundgren, our Chief Executive Officer. Tamara’s joined on the call today by Richard Peach, our CFO.

Tamara Lundgren

Thanks, Rob, and good afternoon, everyone. I’m sure that all of you on this call today appreciate what a special opportunity it is to announce record results into one of the worst stock markets we’ve seen in a while. So we’ll try to put some perspective into our discussion today to counter all this short-term emotion that we see.

We are pleased to report our strongest quarter since the downturn began in the fall of 2008. We recorded significant improvements in sales volumes, in prices and in margins, in each of our three businesses. And importantly, our results reflect the continued hard work, focus and team work of all of our employees and to each of you I want to extend my congratulations and my thanks for your contributions to delivering such great results.

And now on to some details, our Metals Recycling Business grew its operating income by 85%, compared to the second quarter. Our Auto Parts Business set a quarterly record for operating income and our Steel Manufacturing Business was profitable, reflecting both increased utilization rates and benefits from its continuous improvement and cost containment programs.

Let me summarize two of the larger forces that shaped our results and our outlook, volumes and prices. First, our process ferrous sales volume reached a record level for the third quarter, export sales volumes have rebounded from the downturn and our fiscal 2010 levels are on a run rate equal to the boom year of our fiscal 2008. From our perspective, the developing world’s demand for recycled metals appears to be on a steadily increasing trend, irrespective of the economic shakes, rattles and rolls of the developed world.

Second, we saw sharp price movements in the third quarter. One of the drivers of these sharp moves was the lower level of inventories being held by many companies around the world. With the low inventories movements in demand have a greater impact on prices. We expect this price volatility to reduce when greater confidence and steadier growth returns to the world market.

So with that as a preamble, let’s turn to the results, starting with slide five, which looks at our Metals Recycling Business. Now as most of you know Metals Recycling is our largest business. It delivered its best quarterly performance since the fourth quarter of our fiscal 2008.

During the first part of the quarter we were seeing steadily rising demand in prices. We were also seeing seasonal improvements in raw material flows after a harsh winter. These conditions changed in the latter part of April and the beginning part of May, driven by strengthening of demand from U.S. steel mills, coupled with continuing strong demand from the export markets. As export prices began to rise more sharply, new supplies of raw materials came into the market and we took this opportunity to maximize our sales.

In the latter part of May prices fell sharply as U.S. demand was met, as the European crisis took hold and as worldwide finished steel prices decreased. We immediately dropped our purchase prices to match this sharp fall in forward sales prices and this enabled us to optimize our margins in the third quarter.

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