MEMC Electronic Materials Management Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

MEMC Electronic Materials (WFR)

Q2 2012 Earnings Call

August 08, 2012 8:00 am ET


Chris Chaney - Director of Investor Relations

Ahmad R. Chatila - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Brian Wuebbels - Chief Financial Officer


Stephen Chin - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Krish Sankar - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Edwin Mok - Needham & Company, LLC, Research Division

Satya Kumar - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Brian K. Lee - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Jesse Pichel - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division

Sanjay Shrestha - Lazard Capital Markets LLC, Research Division

Vishal Shah - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Nimal Vallipuram - Gilford Securities Inc., Research Division

Mehdi Hosseini - Susquehanna Financial Group, LLLP, Research Division

Vasanth N. Mohan - Piper Jaffray Companies, Research Division



Ladies and gentlemen, we'd like to thank you for standing by, and welcome to the MEMC Second Quarter Earnings Teleconference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, today's conference call will be recorded. I would now like to turn the call over to your host and facilitator, as well as your Director of Investor Relations, Mr. Chris Chaney. Please go ahead, sir.

Chris Chaney

Thank you, Steve. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining MEMC Second Quarter 2012 Results Conference Call. As Steve mentioned, I am Chris Chaney, Director of Investor Relations. And with me today are Ahmad Chatila, President and Chief Executive Officer; and Brian Wuebbels, Chief Financial Officer. After my remarks, Ahmad will provide an overview of the significant events and commentary on the company's first quarter -- sorry, second quarter performance, and Brian will then review the financial results. Brian's discussion will reference slides we have made available in the Investor Relations section of our website at

Our discussion today will refer to certain non-GAAP financial measures. A reconciliation of these non-GAAP financial measures has been provided in our earnings press release financials. Please note that this call will include forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from management's current expectations. We encourage you to review the Safe Harbor statement contained in the earnings press release and the slides published today for a more complete description.

And now I will turn the call over to Ahmad.

Ahmad R. Chatila

Thanks, Chris. Good morning, everyone. In my remarks today, I will review the performance of our 2 businesses and the status of our restructuring in the second quarter and detail our priorities for the second half of the year. We released our second quarter results earlier this morning. And while we are encouraged by those results, there remains much work to be done in a persistently difficult business environment.

In our semiconductor business, we believe the market bottomed in the first quarter and began a recovery in the second. Our read of customers and the market indicates improved but limited demand growth in the second half.

Our cost-reduction plan have progressed as expected and improved efficiencies and careful capital spending will lower our breakeven revenue.

Solar Energy -- in our Solar Energy business, the markets remain very challenging. Housing price declines have moderated. And although lower material prices are good for the industry in the long term, they are difficult for many companies in the short term. We are happy to report the sale of all but 14 megawatts of the European projects we spoke with you about last quarter, as well as additions to our pipeline.

I'm encouraged and proud of the efforts and the accomplishments of our team in driving second quarter results in the Solar Energy business. However, the environment remains very difficult.

Our restructuring continues on track and would be largely complete in the third quarter. At the end of the second quarter, we have reduced cash operating expenses. Our solar wafer business is now cash breakeven, and we maintained our pipeline at 2.9 gigawatts while controlling development expenses.

Our priorities for the second half of the year are to improve liquidity while not limiting the long-term growth potential of the company and fully realize gains from OpEx reductions in our solar materials business restructuring.

In summary, we expect tepid semiconductor industry growth in the second half. Our semiconductor business is prepared for this environment, and we have factored this into our outlook. We expect the solar industry to remain very challenging through 2012 and into 2013. Our Solar Energy business is positioned to come through this, but we take nothing for granted. Lastly, our cash and liquidity positions are sufficient, and will remain so going forward. Brian?

Brian Wuebbels

Thank you, Ahmad, and good morning, everyone. My comments today reflect information found in the press release and financial tables released earlier this morning. And we will reference for the second quarter 2012 results conference call presentation posted in the Investor Relations section of our website. Chris has already reviewed the Safe Harbor statement, so I'll begin with a brief summary.

The second quarter delivered improvement in both the semi and solar businesses, driven by higher volumes in both businesses. In semi, the market bottomed and is clearly behind us as volume recovered in Q2, but the strength of the rebound has softened heading into the second half of the year. Even so, restructuring efforts initiated late last year are expected to drive continued margin improvement.

In solar, the market remains challenging. Despite continued pressure on upstream pricing, the downstream solar project business has experienced relatively good demand.

In the second quarter, as Ahmad mentioned, we achieved our goal of selling the 98 megawatts of projects in Europe, representing 4 projects in Italy and 1 in Bulgaria. Our cash and liquidity were better than expected, but we continue to focus on reducing cost and driving higher operating leverage.

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