USEC's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

USEC Inc. (USU)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

May 2, 2012 8:30 a.m. ET

Executives

Steven Wingfield - Director, IR

John Welch - President & CEO

John Barpoulis - SVP & CFO

Philip Sewell - SVP, American Centrifuge and Russian HEU

Bob Van Namen - SVP, Uranium Enrichment

Tracy Mey – VP and Chief Accounting Officer

Analysts

Jeff Cino - Jefferies & Co.

George Caffrey - JMP Securities

Bob Clutterbuck - Clutterbuck Capital Management

Richard Howard - Prospector Partners

Presentation

Operator

Greetings and welcome to the USEC first quarter 2012 earnings conference call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. A question-and-answer session will follow the prepared remarks. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

It is now my pleasure to introduce your host, Mr. Steven Wingfield, Director of Investor Relations for USEC Inc. Thank you, Mr. Wingfield. You may begin.

Steven Wingfield

Good morning. Thank you for joining us for USEC’s conference call regarding the first quarter 2012 which ended March 31st. With me today are John Welch, President and Chief Executive Officer; John Barpoulis, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; Phil Sewell, Senior Vice President; Bob Van Namen, Senior Vice President and Tracy Mey, Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer.

Before turning the call over to John Welch, I’d like to welcome all of our callers as well as those listening to our webcast. This conference call follows our earnings news release issued yesterday afternoon. That news release is available on many financial websites as well as our corporate website, usec.com. All of our news releases and SEC filings, including our 10-K, 10-Qs and 8-Ks are available on our website. We intend to file our quarterly report on Form 10-Q later today. A replay of this call also will be available later this morning on the USEC website.

I’d like to remind everyone that certain of the information that we may discuss on this call today may be considered forward-looking information that involves risks and uncertainties, including assumptions about the future performance of USEC. Our actual results may differ materially from those in our forward-looking statements.

Additional information concerning factors that could cause actual results to materially differ from those in our forward-looking statements is contained in our filings with the SEC, including our annual report on Form 10-K and our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. Finally, the forward-looking information provided today is time sensitive and is accurate only as of today, May 2, 2012. This call is the property of USEC. Any redistribution, retransmission or rebroadcast of this call in any form without the expressed written consent of USEC is strictly prohibited.

Thank you for your participation and now I’d like to turn the call over to John.

John Welch

Good morning and thank you for joining us today. Yesterday afternoon we reported our first quarter results. As previously reported, we have expensed all of our centrifuge costs since the fourth quarter of 2011 because our activities on the project relate primarily to development and demonstration. Therefore I am sure it wasn’t a surprise to anyone on this call that we reported a net loss. At the bottom line we reported a net loss of $28.8 million for the quarter compared to a net loss of $16.6 million in the same quarter 2011.

However we did report several positive metrics in our financials. Revenue for separative work units or SWU showed a 74% increase over the same quarter last year. Our gross profit was $38.8 million, an improvement of 179% over the same quarter in 2011. The gross profit margin was 6.9% in the 2012 period compared to 3.7% in the first quarter of 2011. And cash flow provided by operations remains positive at $47.7 million. John Barpoulis will provide a more detailed report on the first quarter in a few minutes.

Since we held our 2011 year end call six weeks ago and the annual meeting of shareholders was just last week, I am going to keep my remarks this morning brief. So we can get to your questions sooner. But I do want to give you an update on three essential topics for our business. Our view of the nuclear fuel market, the potential extension of Paducah through one-year multi-party arrangement and our effort to obtain federal funding for the DOE proposed research, development and demonstration program known as RD&D.

A year ago, the natural disaster in Japan was fresh on everyone’s mind. Despite the devastation of the earthquake and tsunami and the issues with the Fukushima plant, no one in the industry was predicting that only one reactor in Japan would be operating in May 2012. Japanese regulatory officials are making a careful inspection of every reactor, including those taken offline for scheduled routine maintenance.

In recent weeks, there have been steps towards restarting reactors. Given the substantial shortfall of electricity in Japan without its nuclear fleet accompanied by the incorporation of lessons learned from the Fukushima reactor accident, we expect to see a restart of reactors as 2012 progresses. We remain encouraged by the long term outlook for the nuclear fuel industry and that is why we continue to believe that the American Centrifuge technology is the path to building shareholder value in the years ahead.

More than 60 reactors are under construction worldwide today, particularly in Asia. In early 2012, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved construction and operating licenses for Southern Company and South Carolina Electric & Gas, marking the first new construction in the United States in over three decades.

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