Alcoa CEO Discusses Q4 2010 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Alcoa, Inc. (AA)

Q4 2010 Earnings Call

January 10, 2011 5:00 PM ET


Roy Harvey – Director, Investor Relations

Klaus Kleinfeld – Chairman and CEO

Chuck McLane – Executive Vice President and CFO


Curt Woodworth – Macquarie

Sal Tharani – Goldman Sachs

Mark Liinamaa – Morgan Stanley

David Gagliano – Credit Suisse

John Redstone – Desjardins

Tony Rizzuto – Dahlman Rose

Charles Bradford – Bradford Research

Brian Yu – Citi



Good day, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Fourth Quarter 2010 Alcoa Earnings Call. My name is [Melany], and I will be your coordinator today. (Operator Instructions)

As a reminder, today’s call is being recorded. I would now like to turn the call over to Mr. Roy Harvey, Director of Investor Relations. Please proceed.

Roy Harvey

Thank you, Melany. Good afternoon and welcome to Alcoa’s fourth quarter earnings conference call. I am joined by Klaus Kleinfeld, Chairman and CEO; and Chuck McLane, Executive Vice President and CFO. After comments by Chuck and Klaus, we will take your questions.

Before we begin, I would like to remind you that today’s discussion will contain forward-looking statements relating to future events and expectations. You can find factors that could cause the company’s actual results to differ materially from these projections listed in today’s press release and presentation and in our most recent SEC filings.

In addition, we have included some non-GAAP financial measures in our discussion. Reconciliations to the most comparable GAAP financial measures can be found in today’s press release, in the appendix to today’s presentation and on our website at under the Invest section. Any reference in our discussion today to EBITDA means adjusted EBITDA, for which we have provided calculations and reconciliations in the appendix.

Now, I would like to turn it over to Chuck.

Chuck McLane

Okay. Thanks, Roy. I’d like to thank everybody for joining us today. Today, I’m going to walk you through the results for the quarter as well as the full year. First, as we take a look back over the fast last few years, our progress has really been tremendous.

In 2008, we experienced a historical decline in the aluminum price as well as broad-based demand destruction in all end markets. In 2009, we concentrated on turning that crisis into opportunity. We made seven promises, we continued our critical growth projects and we set aggressive operational targets.

We fulfilled these promises and commitments over the course of 2009, in fact, achieving our 2010 targets a year early. Not satisfied, we revised our operational targets for 2010 and used this year to seize additional opportunities and accelerate value creation for our shareholders.

Today, we are pleased to announce that we not only achieved but exceeded each of these revised and aggressive targets. As a result, earnings and free cash flow generation was strong and our financial position and liquidity are significantly improved. It has been a dramatic two years and as we enter 2011, we are focused on further profitable growth and accelerating value. With that said, let’s walk through the financial highlights for the quarter.

Income from continuing operations in the quarter was $258 million or $0.24 per share, which included favorable restructuring and other special items totaling $35 million or $0.03 per share. The increase in aluminum prices more than offset higher material and energy costs as well as the impact of a weaker U.S. dollar, particularly against the Australian dollar and the Brazilian real. Our revenues grew 7% sequentially and adjusted EBITDA totaled $782 million.

Our continued focus on cash helped to generate cash from operations of $1.4 billion, our best quarter ever. This outstanding result, when combined with our disciplined use of capital, resulted in a free cash flow of $1 billion, the highest quarterly result since the second quarter of 2003.

We continued to strengthen our balance sheet, reducing debt by $144 million and placing our debt-to-capital ratio at 34.8%. Lastly, liquidity remains strong with cash on hand of $1.5 billion.

Now, let’s review our sequential income statement. Revenue was up 7% from the previous quarter and 4% from the prior-year quarter, due to increased realized pricing for both alumina and aluminum and higher third-party shipments in primary. Cost of goods sold as a percent of revenue was 80.3%, an improvement of 320 basis points from the third quarter of 2010 and a 1,000 basis point improvement from the fourth quarter of 2009. The improvements were due to higher LME-based prices and productivity, partially offset by unfavorable currency impacts and higher energy costs.

Selling, general and administrative expenses rose by $50 million due to normal seasonal spending, currency impacts and a full quarter of the Traco acquisition. Versus the fourth quarter of ‘09, SG&A was down $9 million and as a percent of sales was down from 5.4% to 5%.

Our effective tax rate for the quarter, once you exclude the discrete items, was 22%, which brought the full-year run rate to 26%. This decrease from last quarter is driven primarily by changes in tax laws and by profits that were earned in lower rate jurisdictions.

We are currently anticipating a 30% tax rate for 2011. Income from continuing operations was $258 million, a 323% improvement from third quarter of ‘10. Income per diluted share was $0.24. Let’s now move on and take a look at the restructuring and special items.

Special items in the quarter totaled a positive $35 million or $0.03 per share. Restructuring was a positive charge of $8 million as we divested assets and reversed prior accruals. Discrete tax items for the quarter totaled $18 million as we received a favorable tax ruling in a foreign jurisdiction that allows us to carry forward net operating losses. Lastly, non-cash mark-to-market impacts on power contracts totaled $9 million this quarter.

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