Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies' CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies (WAB)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 24, 2012 10:00 am ET


Timothy R. Wesley - Vice President of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications

Albert J. Neupaver - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Alvaro Garcia-Tunon - Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President and Secretary


Arthur W. Hatfield - Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division

Kristine Kubacki - Avondale Partners, LLC, Research Division

Steve Barger - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division

Allison Poliniak-Cusic - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

Scott H. Group - Wolfe Trahan & Co.

Liam D. Burke - Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, Research Division

Thomas S. Albrecht - BB&T Capital Markets, Research Division

Gregory W. Halter - LJR Great Lakes Review

Jason Rodgers

Thomas Wilkins



Good day, and welcome to the Wabtec First Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] Please note, this event is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to Mr. Tim Wesley, Vice President, Investor Relations. Mr. Wesley, please go ahead.

Timothy R. Wesley

Thanks, Amy. Good morning, everybody. Welcome to Wabtec's earnings call for the first quarter 2012. Let me introduce the other people we have here in the room: our President and CEO, Al Neupaver; Alvaro Garcia-Tunon, our CFO; Ray Betler, our Chief Operating Officer; and Pat Dugan, our Senior Vice President, Finance and Corporate Controller.

We've got some prepared remarks that we'll make, then we'll be happy to take your questions. Of course, during the call, we will make some forward-looking statements so please review today's press release for the appropriate disclaimers. Al, go ahead.

Albert J. Neupaver

Thanks, Tim, good morning. We had a strong operating performance in the first quarter, with record sales of $583 million and record earnings per diluted share of $1.22. The company really hit on all cylinders during the quarter, which led us to preannounce the results and increase our guidance for the year.

As we'll discuss, our performance was driven by strong growth in our Freight Group. Our overall business is performing very well thanks to our diversified business model, our strategic growth initiatives and the power of our Wabtec Performance System, which I'll talk a little bit about today.

We are in compelling growth markets around the world, and we remain excited about our future opportunities. As I mentioned, a couple of weeks ago we increased our guidance for the year, and today we affirm that. Based on our first quarter results and current outlook, we expect our full year earnings per diluted share to be about $4.80, with sales growth now expected to be about 15% for the year. This EPS guidance is about 35% higher than our GAAP EPS last year, and 12% higher than the guidance we announced earlier in the year.

Our guidance has some assumptions. Our assumptions are: the global economy grows modestly, the freight rail traffic improves with the economy, our transit markets remain stable and no major changes in foreign exchange rates. As always, we will be disciplined when it comes to controlling costs, focused on generating cash to invest in growth opportunities and ready to respond decisively to any changes in market conditions.

Let me talk a little bit about the freight rail market. In North America rail traffic is mixed so far this year. Through mid-April, car loadings were down 1.8%. But if you exclude coal, car loadings were actually up 2.9%. Intermodal, meanwhile, was up 3.6%. Of the 20 traffic categories that are tracked, 13 are up so far this year, with particular strength in autos, metals and petroleum products. The OEM market drivers are positive in 2012. Forecasters are now expecting that about 55,000 new freight cars will be delivered in 2012. That compares to about 48,000 in 2011. Nearly 17,000 cars were delivered in the first quarter. The backlog remained at about 60,000 cars, and it appears that new car orders have stabilized.

As for new locomotives, including kits, the industry should surpass 1,200 units this year, compared to almost 1,100 in 2011. Globally, freight markets remain fairly healthy as well. In China, for example, railway cargo hit a record high in March, with tonnage increasing by 4% in the first quarter. In the U.K., freight traffic was up about 13% in the most recent quarter. And Brazil and Australia also continued to be strong, although future growth depends heavily on China's economy.

Let's switch now to the Transit market. We continue to see stable markets in the U.S. and abroad. In the U.S., ridership was up 3.7% in the fourth quarter and 2.3% for all of 2011. In 2012, transit car deliveries will be about 1,000, slightly up from last year and, bus deliveries will be about 4,500, slightly down from last year.

Looking at U.S. federal funding, Congress passed another extension for the existing Transportation Bill. This would last till July 1. You must remember that the Transportation Bill expired back in September 2009, and what we have seen is just extension after extension. It's really a very uncertain when a new Transportation Bill might be passed, but it seems very unlikely to happen this year.

However, you must remember that the funding has remained at about the same during these temporary extensions. But a multiyear bill will give transit agencies the planning horizon they need to dust off long-term projects. It would also be a positive indication when a long-term bill is passed for transit. Many agencies are faced with the dilemma. As ridership is increasing, state and local funding remains tight, so some have been forced to make service cuts.

Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com

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