Covanta Holding Corporation ( CVA)

Q3 2011 Earnings Conference Call

October 20, 2011 8:30 AM ET


Alan Katz – VP, IR

Tony Orlando – President and CEO

Sanjiv Khattri – CFO


Michael Hoffman Wunderlich Securites

Michael Horwitz – Baird & Company

Hamzah Mazari – Credit Suisse

Brian Shore – Avondale Partners

Paul Clegg – Mizuho Securities

JinMing Liu – Ardour Capital

Navi Tejer [ph] Royale Capital

Edward Okine – Basso Capital

Mark Anderson – Axial Capital



Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the Coventa Holding Corporation’s Third Quarter 2011 Financial Results Conference Call and Webcast.

This call is being taped and a replay will be available to listen to later this morning. The playback number is 800-585-8367 for callers in the US, and 404-537-3406 for those of you calling from outside of the country. The replay pass code is 115-209-54. The webcast will also be archived on and can be replayed or downloaded as an MP3 file.

At this time, for opening remarks and introduction, I would like to turn the call over to Alan Katz, Covanta’s Vice President of Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

Alan Katz

Thank you, Charice, and good morning.

Welcome to Covanta’s third quarter 2011 conference call. It’s been a busy three months since our last call. The market volatility has definitely forced me to hit the ground running. Luckily, I’ve rounded up quickly on this exciting story and I’m already met with a large number of you.

Conference season is just about starting. So I’m looking forward to meeting many more of you over the next few months. As always, we appreciate your continued support of Covanta.

Joining me today on the call will be Tony Orlando, our President and CEO; Sanjiv Khattri, our CFO; Tom Bucks, our Chief Accounting Officer; and Brad Helgelson, our Treasurer.

We will provide an operational and business update, review of our financial results and take your questions. During their prepared remarks, Tony and Sanjiv will be referencing certain slides that we prepared to supplement the audio portion of this call. These slides can be accessed now or after the call in the Investor Relations section of

The following discussion may contain forward-looking statements and our actual results may differ materially from those expectations. Information regarding factors that could cause such differences can be found in the company’s reports and registration statements filed with the SEC.

The content of this conference call contains time sensitive information that is only accurate as of the date of this live broadcast, October 20th, 2011. We do not assume any obligation to update our forward-looking information unless required by law. Any redistribution, retransmission or rebroadcast of this call in any form without the express written consent of Covanta is prohibited.

The information presented includes non-GAAP financial measures. Reconciliation to the most directly comparable GAAP measure and management’s reasons for presenting such information is set forth in the press release that was issued last night as well as in the slides posted on our website. Because these measures are not calculated in accordance with US GAAP, they should not be considered in isolation from our financial statements prepared in accordance with GAAP. It should also be noted that our computations of free cash flow, adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EPS may differ from similarly titled computations used by other companies.

With that, I’d like to turn the call over to our president and CEO, Tony Orlando. Tony?

Tony Orlando

Thanks, Alan, and good morning, everyone.

Let’s begin with a quick summary of the third quarter. For those of you using the Web deck, please turn to slide three. It was another solid quarter and our results were in line with expectations. Compared to the third quarter of 2010, operating revenue was up 7%, adjusted EBITDA was up 1%, free cash flow was up 12%, and adjusted EPS was flat.

I’m quite pleased with these results, which Sanjiv will discuss in detail. Our energy-from-waste business continues to perform well even in the face of a sluggish economy. We continue to generate predictable cash flow which we’re utilizing to deliver on our commitment to return capital to shareholders. In addition to the regular dividend during the third quarter, we used $81 million to buy back stock. Since the program began last summer, we have now repurchased 12% of our shares.

Before I go on, I want to pause for a moment to highlight our team’s outstanding work in dealing with Hurricane Irene, which swept through the Northeast in late August. Its path affected half of our facilities. It even hit our corporate office, taking out power for several days, but we didn’t miss a beat.

We had no (inaudible) recordable accidents, we provided uninterrupted services and we accepted all contracted waste delivered to us. This is really phenomenal and it exemplifies the operating expertise that clients expect of us and that we deliver day in and day out.

From our financial perspective, the net impact was insignificant. As you can imagine, we had a lot of wet waste delivered to our facilities, which increased the tons we processed, but also lowered energy production. Also, due to safety precautions and downed power lines, utilities weren’t able to accept all the electricity we could have produced. Therefore, we had to curtail and, in some cases, suspend energy sales. So the net impact of Hurricane Irene was slightly higher waste revenue offset by slightly lower energy revenue, and operations continued right on track. Again, this points to the quality of our team and the predictability of our business.

Let me now turn to each of our markets and our initiatives to grow the business. Let’s start with waste on slide four. We had our third quarter in a row of improved year-over-year tip fee pricing. We’re also leveraging our internal capabilities to manage spot market exposure. We believe that we’ll be able to continue to do so throughout the rest of the year and into next year. We’re forecasting a full year tip fee price improvement of 1% to 2%.

Looking ahead to next year, and assuming the economy doesn’t slip back into recession, we anticipate our waste pricing will grow at inflationary rates supported contact escalators, relatively high diesel fuel cost and our growing special waste business.

We’re excited by the opportunities to add new customers who are committed to implementing a zero landfill solution. We had a small but public wind just the other day. A local hauler that contracts with us want to bid in Washington D.C. to convert Capitol Hill’s non-recycled waste into clean energy. In its press release, the architect of the Capitol stated, quote, “Under this new contract, instead of being placed in landfills, the waste will be burned, generating enough electricity to power an office building the size of the Dirksen or Longworth Building for several months.

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