Waste Management (WM)

Q3 2011 Earnings Call

October 27, 2011 10:00 am ET


Ed Egl -

David P. Steiner - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Steven Preston - Principal Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Finance, Recycling & Energy Services


Albert Leo Kaschalk - Wedbush Securities Inc., Research Division

Hamzah Mazari - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Scott J Levine - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Michael E. Hoffman - Wunderlich Securities Inc., Research Division

Corey Greendale - First Analysis Securities Corporation, Research Division




Good morning. My name is Brandi, and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Waste Management Third Quarter Earnings Release Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Ed Egl, Director, Investor Relations. Sir, you may begin.

Ed Egl

Thank you, Brandi. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us on our third quarter 2011 earnings conference call. With me this morning are David Steiner, Chief Executive Officer; and Steve Preston, Executive Vice President of Finance, Recycling and Energy Services. David will start things off with a summary of the financial results for the quarter and a review of the details of our revenue growth, including price and volume trends. Steve will cover operating costs and the financial statements. We will conclude with questions and answers. During their statements, any comparisons made by David and Steve, unless otherwise stated, will be with the third quarter of 2010.

Before we get started, let me remind you that in addition to our earnings press release that was issued this morning, we have filed a Form 8-K that includes the earnings press release as Exhibit 99.1 and is available on our website at www.wm.com. The Form 8-K, the press release and the schedule for the release include important information that you should refer to.

During the call, you will hear certain forward-looking statements based on current expectations, opinions or beliefs about future periods. Such statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially. Some of those risks and uncertainties are detailed in our earnings press release this morning and our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our most recent Form 10-K.

Additionally, during the call, David and Steve will discuss our results on an as-adjusted basis including revenue; net income; earnings per fully diluted share, which they may refer to as EPS; interest expense; operating expenses; SG&A expense; and expenses as a percent of revenue. These financial measures have been adjusted for items management believes do not reflect the fundamental business performance or are not indicative of our results of operations. All these measures, in addition to free cash flow, are non-GAAP measures.

Please note that our financial results, as well as the projected EPS, free cash flow and all other forward-looking statements, except those specifically pertaining to Oakleaf, do not incorporate any benefits or costs associated with our recent acquisition of Oakleaf or Oakleaf's operations. Please refer to the reconciliation to the most comparable GAAP measures in the Form 8-K and the earnings press release footnote and schedule attached thereto, which can be found on the company's website at www.wm.com.

This call is being recorded and will be available 24 hours a day beginning approximately 1 p.m. Eastern Time today until 5 Eastern Time on November 10. To hear a replay of the call over the Internet, access the Waste Management website at www.wm.com. To hear a telephonic replay of the call, dial (800) 642-1687 and enter reservation code 96225430. Time sensitive information provided during today's call, which is occurring on October 27, 2011, may no longer be accurate at the time of a replay. Any redistribution, retransmission or rebroadcast of this call in any form without the expressed written consent of Waste Management is prohibited.

Now I'll turn the call over to Waste Management CEO, David Steiner.

David P. Steiner

Thanks, Ed, and good morning from Houston. I want to welcome Steve Preston on his first earnings call as our Executive Vice President of Finance. As you know, Bob Simpson retired on September 30, but he worked hard up to that day to make the transition a smooth one. We all miss Bob, of course, but we're excited to welcome Steve to the team. Welcome, Steve.

We're pleased with the results of our operations for the third quarter, as we overcame a number of headwinds from a sluggish economy, $0.01 of negative impact from Hurricane Irene on the East Coast and continued investment in our growth initiatives to produce $0.63 of diluted earnings per share in the quarter. We took a lot of costs out in the quarter, and we will continue to attack costs. However, we'll also continue to focus on our long-term cost and revenue initiatives, because in a slow growth environment, those initiatives will help to drive earnings improvement.

Revenue for the third quarter increased by $181 million or 5.6% from the prior year period. This is the seventh consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year revenue comparison. We achieved this despite the third quarter of 2010 having benefited significantly from the Gulf Coast cleanup effort. Excluding Gulf Coast volumes from the comparison, volumes would have been down only 0.3%, which was the best performance we've seen in years. Higher commodity prices, improved recycling volumes, acquisitions, year-over-year internal revenue growth from yield and surcharge increases all contributed to the revenue growth.

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