Horsehead Holding's CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Horsehead Holding (ZINC)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

February 17, 2012 11:00 am ET

Executives

Gary R. Whitaker - Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary

James M. Hensler - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President

Robert Scherich - Chief Financial Officer, Principal Accounting Officer and Vice President

Analysts

Mitesh Thakkar - FBR Capital Markets & Co., Research Division

Carter W. Driscoll - Capstone Investments, Research Division

Paul Forward - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc., Research Division

Robert Howard

Presentation

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to the Horsehead Holding corporation 2011 Year End Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] And as a reminder, today's conference call is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to Mr. Gary Whitaker. Please go ahead.

Gary R. Whitaker

Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us on our fourth quarter 2011 earnings release conference call. My name is Gary Whitaker, and I'm Horsehead's Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary.

Before I turn the call over to Jim Hensler, I would like to quickly remind everyone that this communication may include forward-looking statements about our company or market and our prospects that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those reflected in the forward-looking statements.

These risks and uncertainties include a variety of factors, some of which are beyond our control. These forward-looking statements speak as of today, and you should not rely on them as representing our views in the future. We undertake no obligation to update these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances that occur after this communication.

You should refer to our filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, including our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K filed on March 16, 2011 and our second quarter Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed on August 9, 2011, for a more detailed description of the risk factors that may affect our results.

With that, I'm pleased to introduce Jim Hensler, our President and CEO. Jim?

James M. Hensler

Thanks, Gary. I'd like to welcome you to this conference call to discuss the results of the fourth quarter of 2011. I will review our performance of our operations and markets during the quarter, while Bob Scherich, our CFO, will review the financial results.

The consolidated net earnings for the quarter were a loss of $12.7 million or $0.29 per share, including a non-cash charge after taxes of $8.3 million, or $0.19 per share related to hedges and asset valuation adjustments related to the eventual closure of a portion of the Monaca site and related to a bargain purchase gain on the acquisition of Zochem. The net loss of $4.4 million, excluding these non-cash adjustments, compares to a gain of $7.6 million for the fourth quarter of 2010 after excluding insurance recoveries, net of associated expenses and taxes and non-cash hedge charges.

For the full year 2011, consolidated net income was $21.5 million or $0.49 per diluted share compared to $24.8 million or $0.57 per diluted share in 2010. Some of the major items affecting earnings before taxes for the fourth quarter of 2011, excluding the previously mentioned noncash charges, were the best production quarter in our zinc smelter since the second quarter of 2008, resulting in a 19% increase in production compared with the 14th -- fourth quarter of 2010 and a 13% improvement compared with the third quarter of 2011. The acquisition of Zochem and its inclusion in our results for 2 months, which combined with the production increase at the smelter, led to a 33% increase in overall zinc product shipments, and the increased smelting productivity in INMETCO, which substantially offset from a production standpoint the impact of a 15-day annual maintenance outage taken during the quarter. These positive factors, however, were more than offset by an 18% decrease in the price of zinc and a 22% decline in the price of nickel compared with fourth quarter of 2010.

We also incurred transaction and other charges related to the acquisition of Zochem of $1 million. And we processed 14% less EAF dust in our recycling plants during the fourth quarter of 2011 then during the prior year's fourth quarter due to planned extended maintenance outages taken to refurbish kilns during the quarter and forced outages due to lower dust receipt levels. The lower dust processing rates combined with the higher maintenance spending resulted in higher conversion costs per ton of zinc recovered in our recycling plants during the quarter. Our lower dust processing rates also contributed to a lower ratio of EAF dust-based fee materials used at the smelter, which further increased the operating costs.

The kiln refurbishment work completed during the fourth quarter winded up a program we started earlier in the year to make major structural refurbishments that must be addressed every 10 to 20 years. This work is now behind us, and we are well positioned for what is starting out to be a much higher level of EAF dust receipts in 2012 that I'll describe in more detail later.

We also completed the wind down of the Monaca power plant during the fourth quarter, which ceased operations in September. However, we incurred additional costs to mothball the facilities and disposed of excess coal during the fourth quarter. We expect to realize about $400,000 per month of cost reduction benefit from idling the power plant now that these transaction costs -- or transition costs, rather, are behind us. Demand for our zinc products was very good for our fourth quarter, which is typically adversely affected by lower seasonal demand. However, EAF dust receipt declined about 4% from the third quarter due to slightly lower steel industry activity.

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