Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group's CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group (DTG)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

February 21, 2012 9:00 am ET

Executives

Vicki Vaniman - Executive Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel

Scott L. Thompson - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President

H. Clifford Buster - Chief Financial Officer, Senior Executive Vice President and Treasurer

Analysts

Christopher Agnew - MKM Partners LLC, Research Division

Michael Millman - Millman Research Associates

John M. Healy - Northcoast Research

Stephen O'Hara - Sidoti & Company, LLC

Jordan Hymowitz

Bill Kavaler - Oscar Gruss and Son Inc., Research Division

Presentation

Operator

Welcome, and thank you for joining the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Fourth Quarter Year-end Financial Results. [Operator Instructions] Today's conference is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time. Now I would like to turn the call over to your speaker. To Vicki Vaniman, General Counsel, you may begin.

Vicki Vaniman

Thank you. Good morning, and welcome to the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, Inc. Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2011 Earnings Release Conference Call. Scott Thompson, President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board; together with Cliff Buster, Chief Financial Officer, will be the host for today's call.

Some of the comments contained in this conference call may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those expressed as forward-looking statements due to many factors. These factors include, among others, matters that Dollar Thrifty has noted in its latest earnings release and filings with the SEC. Dollar Thrifty undertakes no obligation to update or revise forward-looking statements.

Today, the company will use certain non-GAAP financial measures, all of which are reconciled with GAAP numbers and can be found in today's press release or posted to our company's website at dtag.com under the Investor Info tab.

And now I would like to turn the call over to Scott to discuss our fourth quarter and full year results.

Scott L. Thompson

Thank you, Vicki, and good morning, everyone. I'm pleased to report that for the second consecutive year, the company has reported record earnings. Disciplined revenue and fleet management combined with a strong used vehicle market and lower financing and operating costs allowed us to achieve this performance in spite of a competitive rate environment.

Now for a few overall comments about the fourth quarter. Rental revenue for the fourth quarter of 2011 increased to 1%, driven primarily by a 5.2% rise in rental base, partially offset by a 4% decline in revenue per day. Utilization of the fleet climbed to 81.1% in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to 79.7% in the prior year period. We continue to be very pleased with the demand for our value-oriented product offerings.

I should highlight that we had a significant reduction in our insurance expense this quarter. Our insurance expense declined approximately $10 million compared to the fourth quarter of 2010 due to favorable claims development resulting from loss control procedures and operational changes made over the last 3 years. These changes have proven successful in lowering our costs.

Fleet cost per vehicle for the fourth quarter of 2011 declined $218 per month compared to $308 per vehicle per month for the same period last year. Increases in residual values, driven by favorable used vehicle market, possibly impacted base depreciation rates. Additionally, gains on sale of risk vehicles increased to $3.9 million on a year-over-year basis.

Corporate adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter of 2011 totaled $63.5 million compared to $30.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2010. We were -- there were no merger-related expenses in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to $2.1 million in the fourth quarter 2010. Lastly, I'd like to highlight that the company's non-GAAP earnings per share tripled in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to the fourth quarter of 2010.

Now Cliff, will review the financial details for the quarter.

H. Clifford Buster

Thanks, Scott. As Scott mentioned, earnings were very strong this quarter. Non-GAAP net income, excluding, merger-related expenses, totaled $34.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to $9.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. Again, excluding the impact of merger-related expenses, non-GAAP diluted earnings per share for the fourth quarter of 2011 totaled $1.09 per diluted share compared to $0.31 per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Consistence with -- consistent with our comments in the last 2 quarters, I need to highlight that our diluted share count increased by approximately 1 million shares compared to the prior year period, although there have been no significant equity grants since 2010. This is the result of the application of treasury stock method for accounting purposes in computing diluted shares. Due to the increase in the company's stock price since 2010, approximately 300,000 fewer shares are seemed to be repurchased from the proceeds of option exercises. Additionally, approximately 700,000 fewer shares are seemed to be repurchased attributable to the inability to benefit the tax deduction arising from those assumed option exercises under the treasury stock method, as the company does not expect to be a cash tax payer in 2011. When the company becomes a cash tax payer, the situation is expected to reverse; thus, reducing diluted shares outstanding. For 2012 guidance purposes, we have taken a conservative position and have assumed that these shares will be outstanding for diluted EPS purposes.

Now turning to Table 1 in the press release. Rental revenues for the fourth quarter of 2011 were $338.3 million, an increase of 1% from prior year levels. As Scott mentioned, fleet utilization increased 140 basis points, as we were able to service a portion of the incremental rental demand without a corresponding increase in our fleet size. This increase in utilization helped to mitigate the pricing pressure we realized during the quarter.

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