Celanese's CEO Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Celanese Corporation (CE)

Q2 2012 Earnings Call

July 24, 2012 10:00 AM ET

Executives

Jon Puckett – VP, IR

Mark Rohr – Chairman and CEO

Doug Madden – COO

Steve Sterin – SVP and CFO

Analysts

Laurence Alexander – Jefferies

Duffy Fischer – Barclays

Kevin McCarthy – Bank of America/Merrill Lynch

Nils Wallin – CLSA

David Begleiter – Deutsche Bank

John McNulty – Credit Suisse

Mike Ritzenthaler – Piper Jaffray

Bob Koort – Goldman Sachs

Edlain Rodriguez – Lazard Capital

Hassan Ahmed – Alembic Global

Sabina Chatterjee – Wells Fargo

PJ Juvekar – Citi

Gregg Goodnight – UBS

Presentation

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Celanese Second Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference Call. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we’ll conduct a question and answer. (Operator Instructions). As a reminder, this conference call may be recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to Mr. Jon Puckett, Vice President, Investor Relations.

Jon Puckett

Thank you, Saeed. Welcome everyone to the Celanese Corporation’s Second Quarter 2012 Financial Results Conference Call. Please note that no portion of this presentation maybe rebroadcast or reproduced in any form without the prior written consent of Celanese.

My name is Jon Puckett. I’m Vice President of Investor Relations here at Celanese. Also on the call today are Mark Rohr, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; Steven Sterin, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Doug Madden, Chief Operating Officer; and Mark Oberle, Senior Vice President and Corporate Affairs. Mark Rohr will make some brief comments on the quarter, and then we will spend the remainder of the call answering your questions.

The Celanese Corporation second quarter 2012 earnings release was distributed via Business Wire on July 23 and is posted on our website www.celanese.com in the Investor Section along with the PowerPoint slides and the company’s prerecorded remarks regarding second quarter results. These items were also submitted to the SEC in current reports on Form 8-K this morning.

This call will include forward-looking statements concerning, for example, Celanese Corporation’s future objectives and results, which will be made under the Safe Harbor provision of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The words “expect,” “believe,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “plan”, and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements. Any such forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties and the company’s future results could differ materially from the historical results or current expectations.

For more details on these risk and uncertainties, please see our most recent form 10-K and subsequent periodic filings we make with the SEC. The limitations inherent in such forward-looking statements are also further detailed in the earnings release I referenced earlier which is posted on our website.

The forward-looking statements made during this call are made on and as of the date of this call, and Celanese undertakes no obligations to update these forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.

This call will also reference the performance measures of operating EBITDA, business operating EBITDA, affiliate EBITDA and proportional affiliate EBITDA, adjusted earnings per share and net debt as non-GAAP measures. For the most directly comparable financial measures presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP in our financial statements and for a reconciliation of our non-U.S. GAAP measures to U.S. GAAP measures, please see the accompanying schedules to the second quarter earnings release posted on our website.

Now, let me turn the call over to Mark. Mark?

Mark Rohr

Thanks, Jon. And welcome everyone to today’s call. As you are probably aware, we have changed our earnings call process. Starting this quarter we released our earnings press release yesterday after market close, additionally we posted our earnings press release, earning slides, and prepared remarks, both text and audio to our website yesterday.

We plan to use this process going forward to provide more time to analyze the results before we take your questions. If you have suggestions to further improve the process, please let me know.

Before I get to results, I expect many of you have questions about our contractual relationship with Southern Chemical Corporation for the procurement of methanol in the U.S. Unfortunately, since we are in active litigation with Southern, and our contract contains confidentiality provisions, we will not be able to answer any questions related to this contract or the litigation today.

Now for the results, we reported the second highest adjusted earnings per share in our history at $1.47, amid a challenging economic environment in Europe, slower growth in Asia and a headwind from currency translation, it was in the high single digit range. Our ability to deliver these results demonstrates the strength of our technology and our portfolio as well as the hard work for the team around the globe. Most noteworthy each business generated strong sequential earnings growth pushing operating EBITDA to the $404 million range or 24% of sales. In fact Industrial Specialties set a quarterly earnings record of $47 million and on a year-over-year basis our three specialty businesses increased operating EBITDA by approximately 12%.

Acetyl Intermediates earnings declined in the second quarter primarily due to a difficult year-over-year comparison. It was driven by temporarily elevated industrial utilizations in the prior year. Within this quarter AI experienced trough-like levels of operating EBITDA due to weak economic conditions in Europe and slow growth in Asia impacting demand and pricing. At quarter’s end, we believe industry utilization rates were in the mid 70% range with Asian utilization rates closer to 50%. Yet even in this environment the company generated $1.04 per share of adjusted earnings excluding the dividend from the Acetate ventures.

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