Waste Connections' CEO Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Waste Connections, Inc. (WCN)

Q2 2012 Earnings Call

July 24, 2012 8:30 a.m. ET

Executives

Ronald J. Mittelstaedt - Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Worthing F. Jackman - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Analysts

Scott Levine - JPMorgan Chase

Justin Maurer – Lord Abbett

Hamzah Mazari - Credit Suisse

Joe Ritchie - Goldman Sachs

Michael E. Hoffman - Wunderlich Securities

Adam R . Thalhimer - BB&T Capital Markets

Al Kaschalk – Wedbush Securities

Corey Greendale - First Analysis Securities

Tony Bancroft – Gabelli & Company

Presentation

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Q2 2012 Waste Connections earnings conference call. My name is Deanna, and I'll be the operator for today. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a question and answer session. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, this conference is being recorded for replay purposes. I would now like to turn the conference over to host, Ron Mittelstaedt, Chief Executive Officer. Please proceed.

Ronald J. Mittelstaedt

Okay. Thank you, operator and good morning. I'd like to welcome everyone to this conference call to discuss our second quarter 2012 results and provide a detailed outlook for the third quarter as well as few updates for the full year.

I'm joined this morning in by Steve Bouck, our President; Worthing Jackman, our CFO; and several other members of both our corporate and region senior management team.

As noted in our earnings release, the first half of the year has played out about as expected as revenue, adjusted EBITDA, and adjusted free cash flow tracked within or ahead of our expectations. In the recent quarter, revenue slightly exceeded our outlook and adjusted EBITDA hit the midpoint of our guidance. More importantly, we have now delivered almost 60% of our full year free cash flow guidance for the year.

Year-over-year margin comparisons are difficult. As expected due primarily to decreases in recycled commodity values and our decision to turn away lower price disposal volumes at our Chiquita Canyon landfill. And as we've been communicating for the past several months, these negative comparisons should be most pronounced during the third quarter.

Likewise, year-over-year EPS comparisons are impacted by the negative drag from the increase share count resulting from our equity offering earlier this year. This drive will continue until that capital is deployed. With this year fairly well dialed in, we are focusing on the unknown. More specifically, to what extent, to a tepid economy, and further decreases in commodity values cause additional margin and volume headwind and what might be the timing of our capital deployment for acquisitions or share repurchases.

Industry and investor dialogue more recently has focused on a volume-less recovery and potential increasing price competitive emphasis and churn rate, especially in urban markets. We believe our results in this environment once again highlight the benefits of our differentiated strategy and disciplined deployment of capital.

Before we get into much more detail let me turn the call over to Worthing for our forward-looking disclaimer as well as other housekeeping items.

Worthing F. Jackman

Thank you, Ron, and good morning. We must inform everyone listening that certain matters discussed in this conference call are forward-looking statements intended to qualify for the Safe Harbors from liability established by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including statements related to expected volume and pricing trends, recycled commodity values, expectations regarding period-to-period comparisons, potential acquisition activity, share repurchases, the impact of the relocation of the Company's corporate headquarters from California to Texas, comparative results among our regions, and our third quarter and full year outlook for financial results.

Such forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those currently anticipated. These risks and uncertainties are set forth in the Company's periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Stockholders, potential investors and other participants are urged to consider these factors carefully in evaluating the forward-looking statements and are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements made herein are made only as of the date of this conference call, and the company undertakes no obligation to publicly update such forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.

On the call, we will discuss non-GAAP measures, such as adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization, adjusted net income and adjust net income per diluted share, adjusted free cash flow. Please refer to our earnings release for a reconciliation of such non-GAAP measures to the most comparable GAAP measure. Management uses certain non-GAAP measures to evaluate and monitor the ongoing financial performance of our operations. Other companies may calculate these non-GAAP measures differently. Now I'll turn the call back over to Ron.

Ronald J. Mittelstaedt

Okay. Thank you, Worthing. As noted earlier, revenue in the second quarter slightly exceeded our expectations. Revenue was $410.7 million, up 5.3% over the prior-year period. Internal growth in the quarter was a -0.2%, broken down as follows: +3.0% from core price; -2.2% volumes; -1% from recycling, intermodal and other services; and surcharges were flat. With the vast majority of price increases already implemented core price for the balance of the year should remain around 3%, and surcharges should be flat at current fuel prices. This strong core pricing has thus far offset the dollar impact from year-over-year declines in recycled commodity values, and our turning away of lower priced disposal volumes at Chiquita Canyon.

Volume growth in Q2 was -2.2%, or slightly ahead of the midpoint of our -2%-2.5% outlook for the quarter, due to nominally better-than-expected special waste and exploration and production, or E&P disposal volumes. As expected the negative volumes were due primarily to three factors, which accounted for over half of this volume loss. Our decision to turn away lower price volumes at our Chiquita Canyon landfill, tougher year-over-year comps for special waste jobs, and increasing competitiveness within our more urban-like markets of Denver and Houston. This third factor while only affecting a small percentage of our markets reminds us of the benefits of our exclusive and our secondary market focus.

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