Ion Geophysical Corporation (IO)

Business Outlook Call

December 09, 2011, 10:00 a.m. ET


Jack Lascar - IR, DRG&L

Bob Peebler - CEO

Brian Hanson - President and COO


James West - Barclays Capital

Daniel Burke - Johnson Rice & Company

Thomas Plumb - SVA Plumb Financial

[George Gaspar] - Private Investor

James Evans - Collins Stewart



Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the ION Geophysical Outlook Conference Call. During today’s presentation, all participants will be in a listen-only mode. Following the presentation, the conference will be opened for questions and instructions will be given at that time. Today’s conference is being recorded December 9, 2011.

I would now like to turn the conference over to Jack Lascar of DRG&L. Please go ahead.

Jack Lascar

Thank you, Alicia, and good morning and welcome to ION Geophysical Corporation’s market and business outlook conference call. We appreciate you joining us today. Your hosts are Bob Peebler and Brian Hanson. And before I turn the call over to management, I have a few items to cover. If you would like to be on our e-mail distribution list to receive future news releases or experience a technical problem receiving any news release, please call DRG&L at 713-529-6600 and let us know.

If you would like to listen to a replay of today’s call, it is available via webcast by going to the Investor Relations section of the company’s Web site at or via a recorded instant replay until December 23. Information reported on this call speaks only as of today, December 9, 2011, and therefore, you’re advised that time-sensitive information may no longer be accurate as of the time of any replay.

Before we begin, let me remind you that certain statements made by management during this call may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements are based on management’s current expectations and include known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, many of which the company is unable to predict or control, that may cause the company’s actual results or performance to differ materially from any future results or performance expressed or implied by those statements. These risks and uncertainties include the risk factors disclosed by the company from time to time in its filing with the SEC, including in its Annual Report on Form 10-K and its quarterly report on Form 10-Q.

I will now turn the call over to Bob Peebler.

Bob Peebler

Good morning and welcome to our market and business outlook call. We’ve recently completed our planning for 2012. The purpose of this call is to share with investors our macro assumptions and the key elements of both our three-year to five-year models and our 2012 outlook. As in the past, we do not plan to give specific earnings guidance, but we do want to provide the investment community with the opportunity to better understand our view of the markets, where we operate, our growth plans within those markets, and sufficient business information to help you understand how ION expects to grow in that environment.

Our planning process has two phases. First, we take a look out three years to five years which includes our assumptions about the macroenvironment that may impact our business with emphasis on oil and gas demand, future commodity price trends, and at the detail level, our assumptions on how those macro trends may play out in the geophysical industry for both land and marine activity from oil company and contractor perspectives.

Once we had the macro landscape assumptions, we then review our strategy to adjust, as needed, for market and credit forces and also reflect our actual performance compared to what we had planned in the previous year. The next step is to review in detail our investments, both R&D and our portfolio of current and potential new businesses that surely support our long-term strategy for the company.

After we’ve completed this first phase, we then develop the operating plan for the next year within the context of our long-term strategy and how we may look to change the shape of our business to our portfolio investments over time. I will now give you our macro view and related assumptions and then Brian will do a deeper dive into each of the business units and also a consolidated view for the company.

I will start with the discussion of energy demand and our assumptions over the next several years. We draw our conclusions from what have been written by analysts, the International Energy Association, and our own personal observations and input from our contractor and oil company customers.

My first comment is that we, along with many in our industry, have been somewhat surprised as to how strong the oil markets have been when considering the challenging global economic conditions. But when we dig deeper, it is clear to us that we’re likely still in the middle of a positive energy demand cycle, and both oil and gas remain critical components of the world’s energy supply for the foreseeable future.

We believe the following factors will likely keep oil prices in a current trading range of $80 to $100 per barrel or even higher over the next five years. First, the world has only 2% spare capacity, which is razor thin when considering a turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East. We enter 2012 with as much uncertainty as I have seen in the Middle East and North Africa since the turbulence in the 1970s. Iran is the extreme wild card that appears to be progressing to some form of showdown during 2012. This uncertainty will likely continue to put a risk premium on oil prices.

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