Kirby's CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Kirby Corporation ( KEX)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

February 3 2012, 11:00 am ET


Steve Holcomb - VP, IR

Joe Pyne - Chairman & CEO

Greg Binion - President & COO

David Grzebinski - EVP & CFO


Jon Chappell - Evercore Partners

Alex Brand - SunTrust Robinson

Jack Atkins - Stephens

Scott Weber - Bank of America-Merrill Lynch

John Barnes - RBC Capital Markets

Kevin Sterling - BB&T Capital Markets

Jimmy Gibert - IBERIA Capital Partners

Chaz Jones - Morgan Keegan

David Beard - IBERIA Capital Partners

John Larkin - Stifel Nicolaus



Welcome to the Kirby Corporation 2011 fourth quarter and year earnings conference call. My name is Sandra and I will be your operator for today's call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a question-and-answer session. Please note that this conference is being recorded.

I will now turn the call over to Mr. Steve Holcomb. Mr. Holcomb you may begin.

Steve Holcomb

Good morning. Thank you for joining us. With me today is Joe Pyne, Kirby's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Greg Binion, Kirby's President and Chief Operating Officer, and David Grzebinski, Kirby’s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

During this conference call, we may refer to certain non-GAAP or adjusted financial measures. A reconciliation of the non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures is available on Kirby’s website at in the Investor Relations section under non-GAAP financial data. Statements contained in this conference call with respect to the future or forward-looking statements, these statements reflect management's reasonable judgment with respect to future events. Forward-looking statements involve risk and uncertainties. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated as a result of various factors. A list of these risk factors can be found in Kirby's annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2010 and quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the period ended September 30, 2011 that was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. I will now turn the call over to Joe Pyne.

Joe Pyne

Okay, thank you Steve. Late yesterday, we announced record setting net earnings for the 2011 fourth quarter of a dollar per share reflecting a 69% improvement over the $0.59 per share reported for the 2010 fourth quarter. For the year, we announced record earnings of $3.33 per share, a 55% increase compared to $2.15 per share for 2010. Our record fourth quarter and year earnings were the result of strong demand for inland tank barge service, modest earnings contribution from our coastal marine tank barge business, strong earnings from our land-based diesel engine service business and improved earnings from our heritage marine diesel engine service business.

I will speak briefly about K-Sea’s results, our coastal tank barge operation. And I am going to turn the call over to Greg Binion who will update you on our inland marine transportation and diesel engine service markets.

With respect to K-Sea, K-Sea’s operating results were as expected for both fourth quarter and the year. Fourth quarter is generally a more difficult quarter for coastal business due to some seasonality in the cargos, we carry principally the refined products and either the closure or a reduction in demand in Alaska and on the Great Lakes, as poor weather conditions affect those operations.

In addition, the fourth quarter included a $1,250,000 severance charge associated with integrating K-Sea’s back office into Kirby’s.

For the fourth quarter, K-Sea’s equipment utilization was approximately 75% to 80% with respect to pricing. Contracts in this market that renewed during the fourth quarter were basically flat and spot contracts improved in the low-to-mid single digit range year-over-year.

During the fourth quarter, approximately 60% of K-Sea’s revenues were under term contract and 40% were in the spot market.

Time charters in this coastal business represent approximately 90% of the revenues under term contracts for the quarter. With refined product demand tying K-Sea more to the US economy than our inland operation, K-Sea’s equipment utilization levels and pricing environment remains below our inland transportation business.

As we continue to fine tune K-Sea’s cost structure, the US economy improves and industry capacity is removed from service, coastwise utilization rates should improve as well as K-Sea’s profitability. I will come back at the end of this call and talk about the full and first quarter outlook for 2012 and let me turn the call now over to Greg.

Greg Binion

Thank you, Joe and good morning to all. During the fourth quarter, our inland marine transportation sector continued its strong performance with utilization rates and favorable pricing trends. Low price natural gas continue to positively impact the global competitiveness of the US petrochemical industry. The feedstock advantage provided continued strong volumes of domestically produced petrochemicals for domestic consumption and exportation.

Kirby’s black oil fleet continues to see strong demand driven by stable refinery output and the movement of crude from the Midwest of the Gulf Coast and also out of South Texas. Our refined products demand remain positive benefitting from the Midwest to Gulf Coast movements of ethanol and our agricultural demand was also brisk benefitting both from domestic lead produced and imported ag products. Consequently during the 2011 fourth quarter Kirby’s petrochemical and black oil inland fleets achieved utilization rates in the low to mid 90% range.

Revenue from our long-term contracts that is one year in duration or longer remained at 75% and the mix of time charter and our freight business continued at about 55% and 45% respectively

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