Koppers Holdings CEO Discusses Q3 2010 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Koppers Holdings Inc. ( KOP)

Q3 2010 Earnings Call Transcript

November 4, 2010 11:00 am ET


Michael Snyder –Director, IR

Walt Turner – President and CEO

Leroy Ball – CFO and VP


Steve Schwartz – First Analysis

Ivan Marcuse – Northcoast Research

Douglas Chudy – KeyBanc Capital Markets

Daniel Rizzo – Sidoti & Company

Chris Shaw – Winnis Christy

Lucy Watson – Jefferies

Gregory Macosko – Lord Abbett

Morris Ajzenman – Griffin Securities

Scott Blumenthal – Emerald Advisers



Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Koppers Holdings Inc. third quarter 2010 earnings conference call on the 4th of November 2010. (Operator Instructions)

I will now hand the conference over to Mr. Michael Snyder. Please go ahead, sir.

Michael Snyder

Thank you, Sara and good morning everyone. Welcome to our third quarter conference call. My name is Mike Snyder and I'm the Director of Investor Relations for Koppers. At this time, each of you should have received a copy of our press release. If you haven't, one is available on our website or you can call Rose Helenski at 412-227-2444 and we can either fax or e-mail you a copy.

Before we get started, I'd like to remind all of you that certain comments made during this conference call may be characterized as forward looking under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements may be affected by certain risks and uncertainties, including risks described in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In light of the significant uncertainties inherent in the forward-looking statements included in the company's comments, you should not regard the inclusion of such information as a representation that its objectives, plans and projected results will be achieved. The company's actual results could differ materially from such forward-looking statements.

I'm joined on this morning's call by Walt Turner, President and CEO of Koppers and Leroy Ball, who joined Koppers on September 1st as our new Chief Financial Officer.

At this time I'd like to turn over the call to Walt Turner. Walt?

Walt Turner

Thank you, Mike. And welcome, everyone to our 2010 third quarter conference call. Before we discuss the results for the quarter, I'd like to say that the company continues to perform well, despite the global economic downturn we've been experiencing for the last two years. Earlier in the year, we identified $140 million of revenue growth from acquisitions, new products and increased market share in our core products.

Through the end of the third quarter, we are well on our way to achieving this goal in revenue growth for 2010. The increased revenues are from our new petroleum pitch products, the acquisition of Cindu Chemicals in the Netherlands, increased pitch volumes to the new smelters in the Middle East and two acquisitions for additional services to the railroad industry.

Our revenues through September have increased by 10%, compared to the same period in 2009, despite continued weak demand in the global economy. When the global economy does return to normalized levels, we think we'll be in a strong position, competitively and financially to further grow our revenues and profitability, both organically and through M&A.

In regard to our third-quarter results, I was very pleased to see revenues for our Global Carbon Materials and Chemicals business grow by 26% over the prior year quarter, benefitting from European consolidation, new products and improved end markets. End markets for Carbon Materials and Chemicals in the U.S., in Europe and Australia continued to show stability and our Middle Eastern markets continue to show growth in our carbon pitch and naphthalene products.

Steel production increased 19% globally year-over-year through September and 50% in the U.S., which has provided us with excess tar supplies for raw material needs. Related increases in electric arc steel production have also added increased volumes of our carbon pitch and petroleum pitches, as both products are used in the manufacturing of the electrodes consumed in the electric arc furnaces, for example, one of the largest U.S. electric arc furnace producers, reporting capacity utilization of 71% in the first nine months of 2010 up from 53% in the first nine months of 2009.

In regard to the global aluminum industry, recent projections show the growth rate for global aluminum consumption at 13% for this year and the LME cash price for aluminum ingot has increased by 18% from July to October, which we view as positive signs. The projected increases in production through 2013 amount to about 8 million tons, of which about 1 million tons is expected to be supplied by the Middle East smelters.

Our expectation is that a portion of this new production will need to come from restarts of idle capacity around the world and Koppers is well positioned to supply this increased pitch demand over the next three years and beyond.

Our pitch volumes were up 48% over the prior-year quarter, despite a much smaller increase in pitch demand for the global aluminum industry. The increased volumes were primarily from Middle East smelters and from our acquisition in the Netherlands. We believe we have gained market share in our pitch product in continental Europe and the Middle East. Furthermore, our petroleum pitch products, going into the target shooting and electrode impregnation markets have grown to become the number one supplier in North America.

Our phthalic anhydride business continued to provide increased profitability as volumes and prices were up by 33% and 9% respectively over the prior-year quarter, as improvement in the auto markets in the U.S. combined with higher market shares resulted in higher volumes for us.

The U.S. automotive production through September was up nearly 50% over the prior year and in one of the key end markets, drivers – which is one of the key end markets for phthalic anhydride. The average price for orthoxylene, which drives phthalate pricing, increased by 10% for the third quarter compared to the prior-year quarter, partly as a result of higher crude oil prices.

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