Walter Energy, Inc. (WLT)

Q2 2010 Earnings Call Transcript

July 29, 2010 9:00 am ET


Mark Tubb – VP, IR and Strategic Planning

Joe Leonard – Interim CEO

Lisa Honnold – Interim CFO, SVP and Controller

George Richmond – President and COO, Walter Energy, Inc.; CEO of Jim Walter Resources, Inc.

Walt Scheller – President and COO, Jim Walter Resources


Jim Rollyson – Raymond James

Curt Woodworth – Macquarie

Shneur Gershuni – UBS

Jeremy Sussman – Brean Murray, Carret & Co.

Dan Mannes – Avondale Partners

Mark Liinamaa – Morgan Stanley

Daniel Scott – Dahlman Rose

Mark Parr – KeyBanc Capital Markets

Meredith Bandy – BMO Capital Markets

Garrett Nelson – Davenport & Company

Peter Epstein – PWP

Mark Caruso – Millennium Partners

Brian Gamble – Simmons



Welcome to the Walter Energy’s second quarter 2010 earnings call. All participants are in a listen-only mode. (Operator instructions) Now, I would like to turn the meeting over to Mr. Mark Tubb, Vice President of Investor Relations. Sir you may begin.

Mark Tubb

Thank you, Tania. Good morning and thanks for joining us for Walter Energy's second quarter 2010 earnings conference call. Today’s call is being webcast live over the Internet, and a recording will be archived on our website for up to 30 days.

Joining me today are Walter Energy’s Interim CEO, Joe Leonard; President and COO, George Richmond; our new Chief Operating Officer, for Jim Walter Resources, Walt Scheller; and our Interim CFO, Lisa Honnold. Today we will discuss earnings for the second quarter, our views on the market, and our updated business outlook. Following our prepared remarks, we will open the call to questions.

We may refer to forward-looking statements made in yesterday's press release and may make those and other forward-looking statements on today’s call. For more information regarding risks associated with forward-looking statements, please refer to the company’s SEC filings.

At this time, I will turn the call over to Joe.

Joe Leonard

Thank you, Mark and good morning everyone. I would like to start by recapping some of the highlights of the quarter. As you know, we reported an outstanding earnings of $2.16 per share for the second quarter, driven by significant volume and price increases at our coking coal and metallurgical coke businesses. We completed the HighMount acquisition, which more than doubles our annual coal bed methane production, and is expected to be a stable generator of earnings and cash flows into the future.

More importantly, this acquisition helps ensure that future coal production areas will be properly degasified, improving the safety and operational efficiency of our mining operations into the future. We spent $48.8 million buying back nearly 668,000 shares of our own stock during the quarter under our share repurchase program.

Finally, we continue to move forward in positioning the company for the future. Specifically, we are making very good progress in our search for a new CEO, and expect to have an announcement in the near future. We continue to work on a plan to acquire and develop 170 million tons of Blue Creek metallurgical coal reserves to the north-west of our existing underground operations, which will more than double our coal coking reserve base.

We have signed a coal lease for 22 million tons with a third party and continue to pursue acquisition of other reserves in the area. Finally, we completed the buildout of our headquarters building in Atlanta, and expect to open that up in August. Now I will turn the call over to Lisa to discuss our financial results for the quarter. Lisa.

Lisa Honnold

Thanks Joe, and good morning everyone. Yesterday, we reported second-quarter 2010 results from continuing operations of $116.1 million, or $2.16 per diluted share. Second-quarter operating income was $170.2 million on revenues of $410.6 million. Revenue and operating income in the quarter improved on higher selling prices and volumes from each of our operating segments, especially from increased average selling prices of our coking coal at our underground mining segment.

The improvement to operating income from pricing and volume growth was partially offset by increased cost of sales and SG&A expenses, as compared to the prior-year second quarter. Increased coking coal cost of sales on a per ton basis resulted from higher inventory royalty and freight cost as compared to the prior-year period. Furthermore, selling, general and administrative expenses increased primarily due to cost of two strategic initiatives, including the HighMount acquisition, our corporate relocation to Birmingham, and other growth opportunities.

Our second quarter effective tax rate was 30.2%, and we continue to expect our full year 2010 effective tax rate to be approximately 31%. Our favorable tax rate reflects the benefit of percentage depletion deductions. Cash at June 30, 2010 was $95.7 million compared to $214.4 million at March 31.

Favourable cash flow from operations allowed us to rebuild cash in the second quarter after spending $210 million for the HighMount natural gas acquisition, $48.8 million on share repurchases, and $30.7 million for capital expenditures. Available liquidity was $335.5 million at June 30 compared to $452.6 million at the end of the first quarter.

I will now turn the call over to George to discuss our operational results for the quarter.

George Richmond

Thanks Lisa and good morning. I would like to take a moment to cover our safety performance before moving into our operational results for the quarter. Sadly, we had an accident in June, which resulted in a fatality to tapped [ph] surface operations, and our condolences go out to the family. In conjunction with MSHA and the State of Alabama, we are conducting a full investigation into the incident.

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