Solutia (SOA)

Q3 2011 Earnings Call

October 27, 2011 11:00 am ET


D. Michael Donnelly - Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President

James M. Sullivan - Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President and Treasurer

Jeffry N. Quinn - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President

Susannah Livingston - Director of IR


David L. Begleiter - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Bill Hoffman - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

Frank J. Mitsch - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

Michael J. Sison - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division

Christopher W. Butler - Sidoti & Company, LLC

Lucy Watson - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division



Welcome to the Q3 2011 Solutia Inc. Earnings Release and Conference Call. My name is Kim, and I will be your operator for today's call. [Operator Instructions] Please note that this conference is being recorded. I will now turn the call over to Ms. Susannah Livingston. Ms. Livingston, you may begin.

Susannah Livingston

Thank you, Kim, and good morning. We are pleased you have taken the time to join Solutia's Third Quarter Conference Call. Jeff Quinn, Solutia's Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer; Mike Donnelly, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer; and Jim Sullivan, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, are with me this morning.

First, I'd like to remind you that we are webcasting this call, which you can access through our website, Also, we will be using presentation materials today that are posted on the website, along with the earnings release announcing third quarter 2011 results. Finally, Solutia's 10-K will be filed within the next few days.

If you'd please turn to Slide 2. During this call, management may make certain forward-looking statements. These statements are based on management's current expectations and are subject to change. Our actual results may differ materially. Please read our commentary on forward-looking statements at the end of our press release or the statements in our quarterly and annual SEC filings.

Our prepared remarks today include reference to non-GAAP financials in our discussions of earnings. For reconciliation of our non-GAAP measures to GAAP figures, please see the schedules in our earnings release and contained in the slides today.

Now let me turn the call over to Jeff.

Jeffry N. Quinn

Thanks, Susannah, and thanks to all of you for joining us this morning for our third quarter earnings conference call. I want to apologize at the start because my voice is a little bit raspy today, a little bit under the weather, so please, I beg your forgiveness there.

I will begin by discussing some highlights in the quarter and some of the geographic trends we're seeing in our markets. Mike Donnelly, our Chief Operating Officer, will then review the current state of our end markets and the progress we are making with regard to our working capital initiative. Jim Sullivan, our Chief Financial Officer, will then walk you through a detailed review of the numbers for the quarter, and then I'll conclude by talking about our current focus areas and our expectations for the remainder of 2011. And then we will open up the call for your questions.

Starting with Slide 4. In the third quarter, we continued to see improvements to revenue reflective of selling price increases implemented this year in the growth and premium products. The demand for our premium products remains strong in Advanced Interlayers, especially in our acoustic products, which were up 22% over a year ago for both architectural and automotive; and in our Saflex premium color options, which is up 14% year-over-year. In addition, we continued to see our Performance Films super premium vehicle automotive film exceed expectations. As we expected, overall volumes for the company were down modestly in the quarter, driven predominantly by continued inventory corrections in the Chinese tire market, lower solar sales, lower heat transfer business due to the timing of certain fills and the destocking in the electronic business in addition to loss volumes from the divestment of our Other Rubber Chemicals businesses. We find most of these events to be unique in nature, and at this time, we do not believe we are headed into a global recession based upon what we see but no doubt, we have seen some slowing in certain markets and certain geographic regions.

However, as we stated before, the destocking we saw in the Crystex business has returned to a more normal order pattern starting in September. Due to the macro economic worries in the markets, we did not have plans -- we do have plans in place that will allow us to act quickly in event that our markets turned down as they did back in 2009. In total, our adjusted EPS was up 7% year-over-year resulting from strong commercial practices, lower interest expenses and improved manufacturing, but still impacted by increased raw material prices.

During the third quarter, we generated free cash flow of $17 million and ended the quarter with liquidity of $449 million. We continued to improve our capital structure and year-to-date, we have reduced debt by $127 million, inclusive of $25 million in repurchases of our 2017 and 2020 notes in the third quarter, moving us closer to our 2x gross debt-to-EBITDA goal.

Consistent with our strategy in Performance Films, during the third quarter, we announced the agreement to acquire Southwall Technologies and additional capacity acquired from Aimcore Technologies in Taiwan. These acquisitions further reinforce our leading global positions in advanced films solutions.

Southwall Technologies is a leading innovator of energy savings film and glass products for automotive and architectural markets, which Mike Donnelly will discuss later in the call. Making acquisitions in an uncertain economic environment requires much confidence in the value creation proposition for the transaction, and I have exactly that with regard to Southwall. This is a significant strategic acquisition of technology that will drive the performance of our Performance Films business in the near term and position us for success in the long term. We would expect this acquisition to close by the first quarter of 2012 and anticipate it will be modestly accretive to Solutia's earnings per share in the first year.

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