AK Steel Holding Management Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

AK Steel Holding (AKS)

Q2 2012 Earnings Call

July 24, 2012 11:00 am ET

Executives

Albert E. Ferrara - Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy & Investor Relations and Member of Proxy Committee

James L. Wainscott - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, President and Member of Proxy Committee

Roger K. Newport - Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Finance

Analysts

Evan L. Kurtz - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Sohail Tharani - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Patrick Marshall - CRT Capital Group LLC, Research Division

Arun S. Viswanathan - Longbow Research LLC

Michelle Applebaum - Steel Market Intelligence Inc

Anthony B. Rizzuto - Dahlman Rose & Company, LLC, Research Division

Mark L. Parr - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division

Brett Levy - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division

Aldo J. Mazzaferro - Macquarie Research

Luke Folta - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division

Justine Fisher - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Charles A. Bradford - Bradford Research, Inc.

Shneur Z. Gershuni - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Presentation

Operator

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to AK Steel's Second Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded. With us today are Mr. James L. Wainscott, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of AK Steel; Mr Albert E. Ferrara, Jr., Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Investor Relations; and Mr. Roger K. Newport, Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer. At this time, I will turn the conference call over to Mr. Ferrara. Please go ahead, sir.

Albert E. Ferrara

Thank you, Sam, and good morning, everyone. Welcome to AK Steel's Second Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference Call. In a moment, Jim Wainscott will offer his comments on our business, and following Jim's remarks, Roger Newport will review our second quarter 2012 financial results. And together, we will field your questions.

Our comments today will include forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Included among those forward-looking statements will be any comments concerning our expectations as to future shipments, product mix, prices, costs, operating profit or liquidity. Please note that our actual results may differ materially from what is contained in the forward-looking statements provided during this call. Information concerning factors that could cause such material differences in results is contained in our earnings release issued earlier today. Except as required by law, the company disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statements to reflect future developments or events. To the extent we refer to material information that includes non-GAAP financial measures, the reconciliation information required by Regulation G is available on the company's website at aksteel.com.

With that, I'll turn it over to Jim for his comments. Jim?

James L. Wainscott

Thanks very much, Al. Good morning, everyone, and thanks to each of you for joining us on today's call. Excluding the deferred tax asset valuation allowance, which Roger will cover in some detail in a moment, AK Steel's second quarter 2012 results represented a significant improvement compared to our first quarter of this year performance as we increased our operating profit to $42 per ton in Q2, compared to only $3 per ton in Q1. In many respects, it was our best quarter since the second quarter of 2011 when we generated an operating profit of $46 per ton.

Quarter-over-quarter, EBITDA nearly doubled as we generated EBITDA of about $88 million for Q2 compared to about $48 million for Q1 of 2012. Thanks to strong cost and outstanding quality performances, we exceeded our earnings guidance for Q2, again, excluding the charge for the deferred tax asset allowance. Despite the challenges of a sluggish domestic and foreign economies and their impacts on our shipment volumes and selling prices at AK Steel, we remain keenly focused on 3 things: first, taking care of our people and keeping them safe; second, serving our customers better than any other steelmaker and providing them with the best possible quality steel products available anywhere; and third, creating long-term value for our shareholders. This has been our approach, and going forward, it will continue to be our focus. So with those things in mind, let me take a moment to comment briefly on how well we're performing on each objective.

Starting with safety. On the employee safety front, we continue to educate, equip and enforce our safety program with the finest workforce in the steel industry. For all of 2011, our safety performance results in terms of OSHA recordable injuries led the steel industry by a factor of 6x. And through the first half of 2012, our safety performance has actually improved by about 10%. These results are a credit to all of our employees, and I commend them for making safety their highest priority.

During the quarter, AK Steel's Coshocton Works received a special award for safety from the state of Ohio for operating nearly 3 million man hours from February of 2008 through August of last year without a single lost-time injury. Also during the quarter, AK Tube's Walbridge, Ohio plant was honored for its astounding safety performance and received the 100% Award for Safety from Ohio for operating the entire year 2011 without any los-time injuries or illnesses. These are marvelous achievements, and I congratulate the men and women of Coshocton and AK Tube Walbridge. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure the safety of our employees and our contractors who work on our property each and every day.

Speaking of our employees, I'm happy to report that just last week, we reached an early agreement on a new 4-year labor contract with our Butler Works employees represented by the United Auto Workers. This new agreement provides a competitive and flexible labor contract for the company and for our Butler Works employees. I might add that we have no other labor agreements expiring in 2012. Our next expiring contract is on April 1, 2013, with the UAW representing our Coshocton Works plant.

May I also take just a moment to comment on AK Steel retirees as we continue to meet our legacy obligations to them. During Q2 to complete our required pension funding obligations for 2012, we contributed $142 million to the pension trust. This brings our full year 2012 pension contributions to $170 million. In addition, it brings our total contributions to the pension trust since the year 2005 to $1.5 billion.

As we look out to 2013 due to our provision that was included in the recently passed transportation bill, our acquired 2013 minimum contribution will be lower by about $100 million. That is, instead of $300 million, we'll now plan to contribute approximately $200 million.

To be clear, this legislation has no impact on the discount rate utilized to calculate the pension liability on our books or on our intent to fully fund that pension liability. As in the past, our pension liability will continue to be determined by applying the appropriate discount rate at the end of each calendar year. The new legislation is entirely directed towards stabilizing how pension funding is calculated.

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