Exide Technologies Management Discusses Q1 2013 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Exide Technologies (XIDE)

Q1 2013 Earnings Call

August 03, 2012 9:00 am ET


Carol Knies - Senior Director of Investor Relations

James R. Bolch - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Phillip A. Damaska - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Nicholas J. Iuanow - Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Corporate Treasurer


Kelly A. Dougherty - Macquarie Research

Francesco Citro

Craig E. Irwin - Wedbush Securities Inc., Research Division

Kirk Ludtke - CRT Capital Group LLC, Research Division

Jeff Osborne - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc., Research Division

Kevin Cashman

Sean Britain

Trent Porter



Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to the Exide Technologies Fiscal 2013 First Quarter Results Call. [Operator Instructions] Thank you.

I would now like to turn the conference over to Carol Knies, Senior Director, Investor Relations. You may begin your conference.

Carol Knies

Good morning, and thank you for joining us. You may view the slide presentation for today's discussion on our website at www.exide.com. The presentation is located on the Investor Relations homepage, under Events. On the call today is Jim Bolch, President and Chief Executive Officer; and Phil Damaska, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

At this time, I'll review our Safe Harbor statement, then we will provide details of Exide's fiscal 2013 first quarter results as of June 30, 2012, followed by a question-and-answer period.

Listeners should be aware that certain statements on this call may constitute forward-looking statements as defined by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. As such, they involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual or expected results of the company to be materially different from any results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. These factors are enumerated in further detail in the company's most recent Form 10-Q filed yesterday, August 2, 2012, with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Any statements made during this call are made as of today and the company undertakes no obligation to update any of these statements in the future.

At this time, I'll turn the call over to Jim Bolch, President and Chief Executive Officer.

James R. Bolch

Thank you, Carol.

Please turn to Slide 3 for a view of our fiscal first quarter results. As we indicated in June, our first quarter was expected to be challenging in light of rising cost and availability of spent batteries. During the quarter, we've had success with many of our operational improvement initiatives, but these were unfortunately overshadowed by the negative factors of escalating input costs, the weaker euro and softer demand in certain markets. The new pricing we announced that went into effect for a large percentage of our North American customers had minimal impact to results in the first quarter due to timing. Excluding the negative impact of foreign currency translation and lead-related pricing, consolidated net sales were up about 3% compared to prior year period.

Operating income was $1.1 million compared to $13.6 million last year. The decrease was primarily due to higher commodity costs, principally the cost of spent batteries in the U.S. Excluding the tax valuation charge recorded in the U.S., fiscal 2013's first quarter net loss was $18.9 million or $0.25 per share compared to a net loss of $5.2 million or $0.07 per share in the prior year period. Phil will provide more details on the tax charge later during his commentary.

Please turn to Slide 4 for an update on our Transportation Americas business. We're on schedule with the closure of our Bristol, Tennessee, plant. As previously stated, this action is expected to improve operating earnings $20 million to $25 million beginning in the latter part of fiscal 2013. As we work to transition volume for Bristol, we have been successful in obtaining new pricing on a significant portion of our business with our OE customers. The new pricing includes a premium to reflect the rising core costs relative to LME. As part of this negotiation, we do expect to lose some unprofitable OE unit volume.

We also remain on track with the closure of our Frisco recycling operations and the sale of adjacent property. In October, the city is expected to fully fund an escrow account, at which time we will begin the process the wind down our operations. As we stated in June, the operations will cease before December 31, 2012. According to this time line, we expect to record a pretax gain of about $28 million as early as the second quarter. We expect to receive net proceeds of approximately $37 million when the transaction closes. With the Frisco closure, we will be exiting third-party lead sales.

As we discussed last quarter, we announced increased pricing to recoup investments to comply with new regulatory group [ph] requirements in the U.S. This pricing is now fully in effect with most of our aftermarket customers.

I am very pleased to report that Exide is now the sole battery supplier to Pep Boys. You may recall that we previously supplied all Bosch-branded batteries to this customer. We have now been awarded the remainder of Pep Boys' business, supplying all automotive, marine, line guard and heavy-duty batteries. This business is particularly attractive due to the historically high core return rates. Our product shipments for this new incremental business began in early July.

As we turn to Slide 5. Our first quarter lead production was about 80,000 tons in the U.S. As indicated by the pie chart, 77% was used to satisfy internal demand. External lead sales decreased about 1,900 tons compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2012. During the quarter, the average cost of purchased spent batteries as a percent of LME increased to record levels. As you're aware, lead has core pricing mechanics that are tied to the price of lead is quoted on the London Metals Exchange. Lead of LME is down quarter-over-quarter, but we're experiencing the opposite trend with core cost. We have been exploring and have had some success in moving to a blended LME and core charge pricing model that more accurately reflects our cost in this environment. The higher core cost negatively impacted third-party lead sales during the first quarter, which translated to little or no profits on these sales.

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