NewPark Resources CEO Present At The Bank Of America Merrill Lynch 2012 Global Energy Conference (Transcript)

Nov.14.12 | About: Newpark Resources (NR)

Newpark Resources Inc. (NYSE:NR)

Bank Of America Merrill Lynch 2012 Global Energy Conference

November 14, 2012


Paul Howes – President and Chief Executive Officer

[Call starts abruptly]

By Newpark Resources one of the dominant players in fluids, very important part of the drilling process. And with that, I will turn it over to CEO, Paul Howes.

Paul Howes

Thank you very much. Good morning and I would like to welcome you to the Newpark Resources presentation. My name is Paul Howes and I am the President and Chief Executive Officer. This morning, I would like to provide you with an overview of Newpark and our three businesses, discuss how we differentiate through technology and customer support and what we are doing to position the company for continued growth.

Introduce or reacquaint you with the company, Newpark is a service provider to the oil and gas industry. Currently, we have three business segments, Fluid Systems and Engineering which offers drilling fluids and related engineering services. Mats and integrated services offering matting solutions for the protection of the environment and to stabilize unstable soil condition and environmental services which collects in disposes of non-hazardous oil field and industrial wastes from offshore rigs and land locations in and around the Gulf of Mexico.

Over the past several years, the Fluids business has become more prominent in our revenue mix as we have focused our growth and our investment capital in this segment of our business. Our Fluids business contributes over 80% of total revenues and through continued expansion effort, now spans the major markets of North America, North Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Asia-Pacific.

Over the past few years our mat business has become a strong contributor to operating income driven by our ability to help our customers improve their environmental protection programs as they’ve expanded into developing shale plays in the US markets. And while it represents a small part of our business, our Environmental Services segment is one of the market leaders in the Gulf Coast which consistently contributes positive earnings and cash flow.

Now let me talk a bit more about our Drilling Fluids business. Our market share in our Fluids business has grown over recent years with our products and services are been accepted by independent major IOCs and NOCs around the world. Spears & Associates reported that worldwide drilling and completion fluids market in 2011 to be approximately $10 billion. Our share of that market is 8.1% in 2011, up from 4.3% in 2000 and up from 7% in 2010.

We attribute this growth to our technology and the knowledge and service commitment of our people. Over the past several years, Newpark has become recognized as one of the leading drilling fluids companies, expanding our presence around the world. So, how do we compete and win against some of the largest and most respected oil field service companies. We do it by differentiating ourselves with leading technology and superior customer service.

While some may see Drilling Fluids as a commodity business, we have a different view with our focus on innovation, we think to consistently provide our customers with superior customized solution to improve the performance on the well. Our flexible approach to addressing a drilling program benefits the client by telling a solution to a specific need.

Our proprietary and patented technology which cover water, synthetic and oil-based drilling fluids, work in all types of formations and conditions from the conventional formations in West Texas to the developing shale plays across North America, to the deepwater offshore markets of the Gulf of Mexico and Brazil.

Our deep drill water-based system is now gaining acceptance in Brazil deepwater market. Evolution, our latest high performance water-based system was developed two years ago for the Haynesville shale in response to the challenges that our customers were experiencing in this region.

Our systematic approach to solving customer problems continues as that part of the leader in our industry. One good example of our technology capabilities is our work in Brazil where we provide the fluid solution for an offshore well in over 7,000 feet of water, half a mile deeper than the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico with one of the world’s largest and most respected oil companies.

When phased with the decision of selecting the best-in-class fluids company to use in this one of the most, if not the most severe and challenging environments anywhere in the world, this Supermajor shows Newpark over the largest integrated service companies in the world.

To us, this speaks volumes about our technical capabilities and the reputation that we have developed in the oil and gas industry. In support of our technology program, and our continued leadership in the fluids industry, we are currently constructing a new $30 million worldwide technology center which is expected to open by mid 2013.

This new facility will be located in the Houston area, close to our existing workforce and the customers we serve. It will also include a training center that will be utilized to train the next generation of fluid technicians. To our belief that this technology center will act as a catalyst to accelerate the development of new technology.

Now I’d like to provide a little more color around Evolution, our game-changing technology introduced in 2010. So why is Evolution a game-changing technology? Bottom-line, it outperforms oil-based systems. Water-based systems have long been recognized for their environmental benefit including lower waste to pull the cost recurring.

However, that benefit was traditionally offset by poor performance. Simply put, water-based systems drill slower than oil. This is where Evolution is different. It not only provides the environmental benefits of a water-based system, but the Evolution technology consistently provides improved lubricity, or to say it another way, it reduces the torque and drag on the drill stream compared to oil-based systems, translating into a fast rate of penetration, the ability to drill longer laterals when needed, and reducing the total days on well.

After our initial introduction of the Haynesville in 2010, we have modified the Evolution system for usage in North American basin, including the Barnett, Eagle Ford, Permian, and Bakken. We have made significant progress in penetrating these markets and have grown revenues through $6 million in the third quarter of 2010 to $29 million in the third quarter of 2012.

We are now building upon our North American success in introducing the Evolution family of products into the international market with our first Evolution well in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, expected to be completed during the fourth quarter.

Looking ahead, we see significant opportunities with the Evolution system worldwide as E&P operators seek to improve drilling efficiency, lower total costs and while at the same time being prudent product stewards for the environment, a goal that many E&P companies are striving to achieve.

Another element of our differentiation strategy is superior customer support. Leading technology in the service industry only provides customer value if it is accompanied by superior customer service. To that point, we are very proud of our company’s accomplishment.

In the 2011 customer service rankings, by EnergyPoint Research, an independent research company, Newpark ranks first in several categories, including drilling-related services, onshore applications, and shale-oriented applications. We have also won a prior award for drilling fluid products and health safety and environmental policies and practices.

Again, a testament to the value of our products and services as perceived by our customers and the industries that we serve. I want to talk a little bit more about our customer mix. In 2006, revenues from international oil companies and national oil companies comprised approximately 15% of our fluid revenue. At that time, one of our status strategies for Newpark was to continue to grow our business with both international and national oil companies.

Today that number stands at approximately 32%. And why is that important? Well, it’s important because IOCs and NOCs have longer investment horizon and greater financial strengths versus the smaller independent E&P operators. While the independent operator in the US will always remain an important customer base, a balanced mix between independent IOCs and NOCs will help provide a more diversified and stable revenue stream. Therefore, we find to continue our focus on expanding our business with NOCs and IOCs around the world.

Now let me shift your focus to our geographical mix. Similar to our growth at IOCs and NOCs we desire to have a more balanced global business. In 2006 about 13% of our fluids revenue came from outside of North America. Through our continued global expansion, where we have more than double that level, with 27% of our revenues in 2011 coming from outside North America.

This improvement to business should reduce our dependency on the sometimes volatile North American market. Because international work is based on more larger and longer term projects, whether oil or LNG, we believe that this strategic move provides an opportunity for more stable base of business in the future. The importance of our strategy was demonstrated during our most recent quarter and the challenges we faced in the North American market was somewhat offset by very strong results from an international business unit, particularly in Latin America and Asia-Pacific.

Now let’s look at our fluids market in a little more detail. The North American market is our largest market enjoying growth where we participate with substantially all of the US markets as measured by rig count. We estimate our market share of 14% in the US markets we serve, including an 19% share in the shale market.

We serve the traditional oil and gas producing basins as well as the developing shale plays. We have moved aggressively in recent quarters into the Eagle Ford, West Texas and the Bakken shale where we continue to see strong drilling activity. We continue to focus on the developing plays such as the Utica and Mississippi inline. Our revenue mix from oil, liquid rich and dry gas wells, hence track closely to the US rig count, for which today approximately 75% of US rigs are drilling for oil.

For the meaningful presence in the majority of the oil and gas basins, we believe we are well positioned in the North American markets. And based on company data, we estimate that in 2011, we have surpassed Baker Hughes, as the third largest drilling fluids company in North America, a major milestone in our company’s history.

Now turning to our Europe, Middle East and Africa fluids business. Our core markets in this region include Algiers, Tunisia, Romania and Italy and we continue to pursue expansion opportunities than other countries in this region. In North Africa, we operate both on land and offshore for NOCs and IOCs, such as Sonatrach, ENI, Sirte Oil, HES and Nippon Oil.

Recently we began providing drilling fluids to an NOC for an integrated contract with Baker Hughes in Algeria. In Eastern Europe, we have developed a business in Hungary and Romania with OMV and Petra both on-land and in the Black Sea. The developing shale play of Eastern Europe and increased activity in Kurdistan should provide additional growth in this area.

I would also mention that we are interested in few selected countries in the Middle East where we believe our technologies and services can bring unique value. The social and political unrest in certain North African countries have had an impact on our drilling fluids business.

Most notably, Libya. Libya was shutdown for all of 2011 and 2012 after generating approximately $10 million of revenue in 2010 with the changes in the government and the lifting of international sanctions, we are hopeful that offshore activity in this market will resume in the near future. Despite the loss of Libyan revenues in 2011 and 2012, our continued expansion into new markets has help offset some of these declines.

Now let me talk a little bit about our Latin American business. Operations in Brazil started in 2007 with our organic entry into this market. On the strength of a deepwater contract signed in early 2008 with ExxonMobil, we build our first fluids plant in Rio de Janeiro. We expanded that facility in 2009 to 28,000 barrels which ranks second in terms of in country capacity.

We currently have contracts with Petrobras and have done work with ExxonMobil, Maersk, Anadarko, Repsol, Statoil and Starfish where we work mostly offshore in deepwater. We provide synthetic drilling fluids and have introduced our deep drill water-based product technology to Petrobras and other operators. Our water-based fluid system has performed extremely well when compared to the synthetic fluid systems that have been used historically.

Our revenues in Brazil grew from nothing in 2007 to $76 million in 2011. In 2012, we were on pace to exceed the 2011 revenues. We believe Brazil presents a great opportunity for Newpark with our strong presence in country and leading product technology, we expect to participate in one of the industry’s newest and largest oil development.

Now we talk about our Asia-Pacific business. In April 2011, we acquired the drilling fluids business and engineering services unit of Rheochem which operates out of the headquarters office in Perth Australia. Rheochem provides products and services to the oil and gas industry, both onshore and offshore with operations in Australia, New Zealand and India.

This acquisition provided us with a beachhead in the Asia-Pacific region, which was an important element in our effort to expand globally as I discussed earlier. During the third quarter, we saw an increase of revenue, driven by the start-up of a two year offshore contract for work on Australia’s northwest shelf.

Given the high level of capital investment in this region by IOCs and Supermajors, we are expecting to see an increase in drilling activity over the next several years. We believe that with the acquisition of Rheochem, we are ideally suited to participate in this growth.

Now let me turn to our mats business. Our mats and integrated service business have performed extremely well in the recent years driven largely by operators needs to protect the environment from erosion and spillage during the drilling program and the recognition of our composite mat product as a critical element of their environmental protection measure.

Our mats had multipurpose usage and ensure all weather access in various unstable soil conditions. Historically, our composite mats served as an alternative for wood mats in South Louisiana providing a stable work platform. However, due to the positive impact of our patented composite mat system for environmental protection as well as soil stabilization we now have a significant presence in the North East and the Rocky Mountain region, along with a small but drilling presence in Europe. The segment generated $110 million of revenue and a 48% operating margin in 2011 and is on pace to exceed in 2012 – exceed revenues in 2012 generating $96 million of revenue and a 45% operating margin in the first three quarters of 2012. Given the continued strong demand for our mat products and high margins generated in recent years we recognize the competition will continue to be attractive to those markets. So how do we protect our leadership position? We do that by staying one step ahead of the competition. Specifically, we are developing a spill containment system that will provide superior environmental protection for our customers during both the drilling and/or completion phase of the well. We are expecting to have a spill containment system ready for deployment by the end of the year.

Looking ahead, the US market continues to face the headwinds of lower drilling activity and we expect to see continued growth in US demand for environmental protection products as drilling programs push into populated areas where pressure from communities to protect the environment will continue. We also believe that developing shale plays in Eastern Europe and Australia provide the unique opportunity to further expand our mats business internationally.

Now let’s turn our attention to our environmental business. Our environmental is a market leader in the disposal of non-hazardous oil field waste in the US Gulf Coast. Our unique technology and asset base allows us to inject waste underground into geologically secured structures. This method of disposal is often preferred by the larger operators. The environmental services business is a solid performer, based on leading market position and unique injection technology.

Revenues in 2011 were $49 million, representing only 5% of our consolidated revenues. However, with the 24% operating margin this segment has continued to provide consistent profitability and positive cash flow. In 2012, we were on pace to exceed 2011 levels with revenues of $40 million to the first three quarters and a 26% operating margin. Looking ahead, we can see continued opportunity for improvement in this business, because activity returns to historical levels in the Gulf of Mexico.

Now I’d like to briefly highlight our first quarter – sorry, our third quarter 2012 results. We achieved $260 million of revenues in the third quarter of 2012, up 6% from the second quarter, but down 1% from the third quarter of 2011. Our mats and environmental segment continued their very strong performance and activities in all of our international businesses within the drilling fluids segment continue to strengthen. However, profitability in North America continues to be hampered by the headwinds of the declining rig count in the US as well as low activity levels in Canada as compared to last year.

While we are taking continued actions to address these cost issues in the US, following the rapid transition from dry gas to liquid rich plays earlier this year, we expect that we will not return to double-digit operating margins in the Fluids segment into sometime in early 2013. The balance sheet and the capital structure of the company remains in very good shape.

Our debt structure primarily consists of $172 million in convertible notes bearing interest at 4% and convertible shares of common stock at $11 per share along with $125 million revolving credit facility. At the end of the third quarter 2012, our total debt-to-capitalization was 28.2%. Earlier this year, our Board of Directors authorized a $15 million share repurchase program through the end of the October, we have used approximately $44 million to repurchase approximately 6.5 million shares, which reflects over 7% of shares outstanding at the beginning of the year.

During the first half of 2012, our debt level increased in part driven by delays in invoicing our customers following our fourth quarter 2011 implementation of a new ERP system. During the third quarter, we made meaningful progress in this area which helps drive our debt levels down toward prior year levels. In the third quarter, we reduced receivables by $34 million.

Now let me summarize our near-term outlook for the business following the rapid transition from dry gas to liquid rich region. Earlier this year, the near term outlook in the North American market remains uncertain assuming oil prices avoid substantial decline we expect US rig count to remain relatively stable with a high proportion of rigs continuing to drill in oil and liquid rich areas. We expect drilling in dry gas areas to remain suppressed until natural gas storage returns to normal levels which are in part dependent on the severity of the upcoming winter. We don’t expect the industry to grow at the levels seen in recent years, we remained focused on continuing to gain market share by becoming a recognized technology leader in the drilling fluids industry and expanding our global footprint in the fluids and mats business. We will continue to rollout our Evolution technology in North America and around the world. We believe that the Evolution family of products represents a game-changing technology for the oil and gas industry.

In summary, the prospects for Newpark remain positive and I am encouraged by the progress that we have made today in growing the company. Thank you for your time and attention.

Question-and-Answer Session

Unidentified Analyst

If you can expand a little bit on how you compete, particularly given that some other competitors have integrated solutions, multiple products,. I think your products done well on a standalone basis, but given that some of the major competitors do have more significant bundled with it. How do you back that against that?

Paul Howes

Yes, it’s not unusual for the three largest service companies when they can try to provide some type of bundling. Quite honestly, we’ve been able to debundle with technology in Evolution in particular ones very large independent gas company here in North America. So again it’s about bringing unique value above and beyond what they are bringing in some of their individual product lines. And quite often, when you see the largest service companies integrate new product lines together some of them are just not best-in-class. And we believe that we are and that brings unique value and that’s with the customer who spends.

Unidentified Analyst

And how do you prove that, certainly the EnergyPoint stat, how do you prove that and I think in an industry that’s very slow to adapt new technologies, how do you really prove that – in this in case they – how we go by, looking for investments, talking with regards?

Paul Howes

No, it’s a good question and quite often what you are able to do is again, we are working and attacking all these accounts and quite often what we’ll do is, we’ll get one rig and an opportunity to show what our technology is all about, what our service is about and quite often when we do that, we go head-to-head and with the integrated service providers, it’s not unusual for us to reduce the time when we spud the well to when we get these. So, right down the shoot we are pretty successful in showing that we can bring unique value.

So, one rig at a time, you win one rig, two rigs, three rigs.

Unidentified Analyst

If you could talk about your North American exposure that is primary driver but an important driver of your business?

Paul Howes

I mean the North American market is an important market to any service companies and it’s one of the largest in the world. So, the outlook there again I think, to some degree rig count relative stable as long as you don’t see a significant drop in the global price of oil that’s yet to be determined dependent on where some of these global economies are going and some of our policies here in the US under our current President. So, time will tell in terms of what the North American market will provide to us, but we are well positioned in every key region to take advantage of whatever market is there for us.

Unidentified Analyst

And in terms of oil-based versus water-based, is there still a big debate about the ability for water-based to be as effective as oil-based drilling?

Paul Howes

Yes, I think that, you’ve got it on your strides, customer-by-customer, region-by-region, here in North America and then you start that whole ball game all over again which you move to the international market and they said earlier, we are taking our Evolution-based technology into the Europe, Middle East, Africa region. It should have a well close to being completed in the fourth quarter, so that’s why I guess to do it customer-by-customer, there is always a long timeframe to bring new technology into this industry.

Unidentified Analyst

But in your mind there is there still a debate from operator standpoint?

Paul Howes

Yes, absolutely.

Unidentified Analyst

Speaking to drilling contractors or OSC vessel guys, they seem to have some or a negative bias towards putting in any additional rig or vessels in given the issues, the cost that are greater issues that they see in Brazil. Wanted to get your perspective as a service provider if you come across similar issues or how do you see that?

Paul Howes

Well, I think there is certainly some unknown and how the Brazilian government is going to move forward. Certainly they’ve taken action in the last six months or so, to get some larger E&P operators there. We hear the same thing in terms of some of the IOCs. We’ve got a very strong position with Petrobras, that’s our largest customer there. We got roughly 30% of their business that’s been growing. We’ve been adding new products outside of drilling fluids to the contract. So we feel pretty good about the Brazil market because we got a lot of the Petrobras business and then upside is the IOCs and they do bring more drill ships and I think we are positioned to do more work with them. But I think that’s an unknown at this point.

Unidentified Analyst

So, just your brief analysis of the financial page, with other acquisitions the more stock buybacks, dividends, what’s the purpose of the cash flow et cetera?

Paul Howes

Obviously, we are generating a lot of cash right now. We have – well, we made an acquisition as you know last year in the Asia-Pacific region. We continue to look for opportunities to acquire companies globally. But I would say in the case of drilling fluids there is not a lot of companies out there that market was aggregated by a couple of the large service companies over the last 10 to 15 years. So we are being opportunistic. We’d like the international market. Like to expand our mats business. And then as you know, we view some of our cash to buyback shares recently.

Unidentified Analyst

As we look at the cash flow projection, it’s really kind of a year-to-year part of our planning process, we look at our expectations for the business and the cash flow needs that we have both in terms of acquisitions and in terms of organic growth investments in the business and similar to what we had this year, very strong cash flow, and we have the ability to allocate a portion of our cash to return to shareholders. And is that something that we consider on a year-over-year basis as we are going through our finance?

Paul Howes

The other area that – in terms of cash flow is looking forward to, we continue to invest in our rental fleet for mats and as our spill containment system takes off, as we believe it will, certainly 2013 will provide additional opportunities to invest in that business as well.

Unidentified Analyst

I think the other thing on the stocking payment, how widely has it been adopted and very high margin business in the mats – just…

Paul Howes

How high is that? We have not – we had kind of a beta site out in the field for the last 12 months, where we have been doing testing and different designs which deals in different things, but the real spill containment system will be deployed we believe in this quarter, ready for deployment in the fourth quarter. So we are just beginning that process, again it’s not going to be just focused on the drilling side, but also on the completion side when they are fracking as well. So trying to create some new market segmentation where we historically have not competed with that product line. And basically that’s been the biggest advantage that we are trying to do to take it to a system solution, right, instead of just being a single mat, we are providing a system solution, spill containment that would eliminate the liners and reduce the operating cost for our customers.

Unidentified Analyst

Can you talk about your expanding of business internationally, where are the most likely countries?

Paul Howes

Well, currently, we have a business in the UK that’s been growing. We really like the Eastern European shale plays. We like the European Union in general based upon their strong environmental awareness, that same thing holds true if you go down to the Australian market, if you look at places like Queensland, Gladstone in a lot of the coal and gas they are talking about drilling more of the shale, drilling in the Cooper Basin north of Adelaide. So we think that the Australian market is another good opportunity years to come.

Unidentified Analyst

I wanted to get your thoughts on M&A. So Halliburton bought Multi-Chem couple of years ago, we recently saw an – planting out of the mains but – two among the top five players got consolidated, does that change your competitive position or how do you think about that?

Paul Howes

Halliburton acquired Multi-Chem about a year ago, I think it was, that’s a production chemical business, it’s not drilling Fluids Company. So there isn’t really any acquisitions or movement in the industry that has changed our competitive positioning with the exception of slumber J acquiring Smith International few years ago and with that they acquired the MI Swaco business. And so, any time you have a large corporation buying a smaller one, there is cultural differences, people have a tendency, they kind of fall out and leave the company. We did pick up the worldwide lab manager for MI Swaco to run our new technology center. So, I see it as a benefit in terms of human resources and picking up some really good people.

Unidentified Analyst

Have you seen any fallout in terms of market share, in terms of just competitive dynamics, since Slumber J acquired Smith International but with the MI Swaco?

Paul Howes

No, I mean, that’s because they generally internally focus and consumed with integrating the acquisition and to some degree that’s the same thing you saw with Baker Hughes when they acquired BJ services they lost focus on some of the other product lines like drilling. So there has been more of an advantage than disadvantage.

Unidentified Analyst

And so if we look internationally, which countries do you see really offering the greatest opportunities? I mean, you highlighted some of them but.

Paul Howes

Yes, I mean, the ones that depending on the type of business we like eventually I think the Eastern European shale plays, in certain regions obviously there is some early developments there where they found some clay in the shale which requires some different fracking, maybe but there is other parts look attractive. We like the Black sea, we like parts of the Arabian Peninsula, we like North Africa, Kurdistan.

Unidentified Analyst

I would just say, Kurdistan in terms of near-term opportunities, I think that’s probably is a biggest more than right in front of them?

Paul Howes

Yes, we’ve been operating there for about a year and you see a lot more companies going there. And then if you look at other places, Latin America we believe there is some opportunities outside of Brazil. There is a lot of rigs running in Columbia using all water-based technology in Bolivia. And then if you look into Asia-Pacific, Australia again with these LNG facilities coming online, Gladstone in particular in Queensland and the amount of drilling that will have to be done either in the Coasting gas area at the Queensland or the shale down in Cooper Basin, you’ll have to see that and we continue to – we won some recent contracts offshore in Australia out of our facility in Dampier which is about two or three hours north of Perth.

Unidentified Analyst

Is there a step change in technology going forward, is there something you can see that really will shift through the dynamics?

Paul Howes

Well, we think that Evolution perhaps, because historically this industry has used diesel fuel and – to drill and in some cases through the offer first, we think drilling with water-based technology that actually performed better than oil is the right direction for this country and a lot of other places to go. So we think that is the game-changing technology.

Unidentified Analyst

Right, great. Thank you very much.

Paul Howes

Well, thank you very much for your time.

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