Westlake Chemical Management Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Westlake Chemical (WLK)

Q2 2012 Earnings Call

August 02, 2012 11:00 am ET


David R. Hansen - Senior Vice President of Administration

Albert Y. Chao - Chief Executive Officer, President, Director, Member of Nominating & Governance Committee, Member of Compensation Committee and Member of Corporate Risk Committee

M. Steven Bender - Chief Financial Officer, Senior Vice President and Treasurer


David L. Begleiter - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Brian Maguire - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Frank J. Mitsch - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

Donald Carson - Susquehanna Financial Group, LLLP, Research Division

Jeffrey J. Zekauskas - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Gregg A. Goodnight - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Aleksey V. Yefremov - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Hassan I. Ahmed - Alembic Global Advisors



Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Westlake Chemical Corporation's Second Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, ladies and gentlemen, this conference is being recorded today, August 2, 2012. I would now like to turn the call over to today's host, Dave Hansen, Westlake's Senior Vice President of Administration. Sir, you may begin.

David R. Hansen

Thank you very much. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us for the Westlake Chemical Corporation's Second Quarter Conference Call. I'm joined today by Albert Chao, our President and CEO; Steve Bender, our Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, and other members of our management team.

The agenda for today will be as follows: Albert will first make a few comments regarding Westlake's performance in the second quarter and a current perspective on the industry. Steve will then provide you with a more detailed look at our financial and operating results. Albert will have a few concluding comments, and then we will open up the call to questions.

Today, management is going to discuss certain topics that will contain forward-looking information that is based on management's beliefs, as well as assumptions made by and information currently available to management. These forward-looking statements suggest predictions or expectations and, thus, are subject to risks or uncertainties. Actual results could differ materially based upon factors including the cyclical nature of the chemical industry; availability, cost and volatility of raw materials, energy and utilities; governmental regulatory actions and political unrest; global economic conditions; industry operating rates; the supply-demand balance for Westlake's products; competitive products and pricing pressures; access to capital markets; technological developments; and other risk factors.

Westlake issued earlier this morning a press release with details of our quarterly financial and operating results. This document is available in the Press Release section of our webpage at westlake.com.

A replay of today's call will be available beginning 2 hours after completion of this call until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on August 9, 2012. The replay may be accessed by dialing the following numbers: domestic callers should dial 1 (888) 286-8010; international callers may access the replay at (617) 801-6888. The access code for both numbers is 23500734.

Please note that information reported on this call speaks only as of today, August 2, 2012. And therefore, you are advised that time-sensitive information may no longer be accurate as of the time of any replay.

I would finally advise you that this conference call is being broadcast live through an Internet webcast system that can be accessed on our webpage at westlake.com.

Now I'd like to turn the call over to Albert Chao. Albert?

Albert Y. Chao

Thank you, Dave. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for joining our earnings call. In this morning's earnings release, we reported a record net income of $115.5 million or $1.72 per diluted share for the second quarter. Our Olefins segment also achieved a record level of operating income, and our Vinyls segment delivered its strongest performance since the third quarter of 2008. The favorable dynamics in natural gas liquids continues. We expect the growing production of natural gas liquids from shale gas and oil drilling will cause ethane to become structurally long, as billions of dollars of fractionation and pipeline infrastructure will bring ethane from the well head to market faster than the ability of the chemical industry to consume this production.

Ethane and propane feedstock prices declined significantly in the second quarter as the supply of these feedstocks outstripped demand. Westlake is one of the best-positioned producers to leverage this NGL feedstock advantage for the benefits in the second quarter, and we are making further investments to bolster this competitive advantage.

The sustained favorable oil-to-gas ratio has provided margin expansion opportunities to ethane-based ethylene producers such as Westlake and continues to encourage an increasing supply of ethane-attractive economics NGL extraction for the oil and gas producers.

All of these dynamics are game changers for industry and provide a foundation for Westlake and other North American light-cracking ethylene producers to be globally competitive for many years to come.

Now let me turn over to Steve for a more detailed look at our financial and operating results for the second quarter.

M. Steven Bender

Thank you, Albert, and good morning, everyone. I will begin with a discussion of our consolidated financial results, followed by a more detailed discussion of our Olefins and Vinyls segment results.

Let me start with our consolidated results. As reported in this morning's press release, Westlake reported record earnings in the second quarter of $115.5 million or $1.72 per diluted share, an improvement of 43% from the $81 million or $1.21 per share reported in the second quarter of 2011.

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