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

Aircastle Limited (AYR)

Q2 2012 Earnings Call

August 2, 2012 10:00 am ET

Executives

Frank Constantinople - SVP, IR

Ron Wainshal - CEO

Mike Inglese - CFO

Analysts

Isaac Husseini - Barclays

Arren Cyganovich - Evercore

Anthony Segoya - Credit Suisse

John Godyn - Morgan Stanley

Scott Valentin - FBR Capital Markets

Andrew Light - Citi

Gary Liebowitz - Wells Fargo Securities

Glenn Engel - Bank of America

Presentation

Operator

Good day and welcome to the Q2 2012 Aircastle Limited Earnings Conference Call. Today’s conference is being recorded.

At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Frank Constantinople. Please go ahead, sir.

Frank Constantinople

Thank you, Melanie, and good morning everyone. I’m Frank Constantinople, Senior Vice President of Investor Relations, and I’d like to welcome all of you to Aircastle Limited’s second quarter 2012 earnings call.

With me today are Ron Wainshal, Aircastle’s Chief Executive Officer; and Mike Inglese, our CFO.

We will begin the presentation shortly but I would like to mention that the call is being recorded and the replay number is 888-203-1112 from within the United States and Canada, from outside of the U.S. and Canada the number is 719-457-0820. The replay passcode for this call is 5002334. This call will also be available via webcast on our website at www.aircastle.com along with the earnings press release and an accompanying PowerPoint presentation.

I would like to point out that statements today, which are not historical facts, may be deemed forward-looking statements. Actual results may differ materially from these estimates or expectations expressed in those statements and certain facts that could cause actual results to differ materially from Aircastle Limited’s expectations are detailed in our SEC filing which can also be found on our website. I’ll direct you to Aircastle Limited’s earnings release for the full forward-looking statement legend.

And I’ll now turn the call over to Ron.

Ron Wainshal

Thanks Frank, and thanks to all of you on the call for joining us. I’ll start by reviewing our recent accomplishments, then I'll discuss the current overall market environment, touch on our results for Q2 2012 and provide an update on our plans. Mike will follow with a more detailed review of our financial results and capital structure. After that, we’ll open up the call for questions.

Let's start with some second quarter highlights. We invested $400 million in Q2 building on approximately $1 billion of aircraft acquisitions completed over the previous 12 months. Our investments are focused on modern high utility aircraft in market segments in situations where we believe we have a competitive advantage. We expect these accretive and attractively priced investments will generate strong returns and enhance the company's financial performance.

Secondly, we completed an $800 million unsecured bond offering in April. In addition to providing flexible growth capital we used part of the proceeds of this offering to repay a secured bank deal and to further increase of our unencumbered asset base to $2 billion from $700 million at the end of the first quarter. Our demonstrated capital markets access lets us capitalize on the opportunities arising from the ongoing contraction in bank financing for aircraft.

Thirdly, we continue to manage our portfolio effectively once again achieving a 98% fleet utilization rate during the quarter.

In short, we're continuing to execute on our business plan in a disciplined way. In doing so, we are extremely mindful to putting our capital to work in the most effective way possible from a long-term shareholders' perspective. In this regard, we'll continue to consider the best mix of aircraft investments, repurchasing our securities and returning capital to shareholders through a dividend payout that reflects the company's growing earnings base.

Now, let's turn to the discussion of the business environment. Passenger traffic levels have been surprisingly resilient this year. Year-to-date through June the International Air Transport Association said passenger air traffic is up 6.5% versus last year. However, as we've anticipated we're now starting to see a slowdown in growth rates.

Travel during the month of June was just 0.3% higher than in May. We believe that weakened business and consumer confidence is causing this slowdown. Additionally, while there are always regional variations in performance, we anticipate these differences will narrow as GDP growth begins moderating in some of the large emerging market economies. Nonetheless, I must say that passenger traffic levels have been quite good considering the global macroeconomic circumstances.

For airfreight, the data continues to support our view that the market hit bottom during the fourth quarter of last year but has improved only modestly since. In June, trade volume was just 0.8% better than the same period last year and it's about 2.5% higher on a seasonally adjusted basis in the low point during the fourth quarter of last year. Airfreight traffic is still at a week level. Here again, we believe the current lack of business confidence is to blame. However, as business confidence improves we would expect this to result in higher inventory levels and in turn a pickup in air cargo activity.

Now, I will discuss aircraft supply. On one hand, there are very few apart current technology aircraft that are already committed customers. That's good news. However, we continue to be concerned about increasing production levels particularly for narrow body aircraft. While it's true that there are large order backlogs, we believe that these will be very difficult to sustain without the persistently high levels of export credit agency financing support we have seen over the past fiver years.

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