Joc O’Rourke - Vice President and CFO
The Mosaic Company (MOS) Citi's 6th Annual Basic Materials Symposium Conference Call December 4, 2013 9:10 AM ET
Okay. Thanks PJ. Everybody can hear fine I will take it. We are going to stick more or less close to this podium but I may move across a little bit. So what I’d like to do today and relatively casual form give you real concepts of the proposition that Mosaic uniquely brings to the market.
We believe that crop nutrients is an exceptional business and we believe within that Mosaic is an exceptional franchise. So we’ve built a really strong franchise, we have built this to be strong not just in the good times, but across the cycle. Throughout the cycle this is a company we believe is positioned to do well. And we're going to talk a little bit about how we're leveraging the times today to expand our business.
And then the last thing just want to cover for you is we believe the long term outlook of agriculture is great. Yes, we're in a little bit of a dip right now, but long term, this is an industry that we think is going to perform very well.
So, I carry on forward the first thing of course is the Safe Harbor. I will be making forward-looking statements, you can read that, I'm pleased to, some other time.
So, first of all who is Mosaic? Well, we're the largest combined producer of phosphate and potash in the world. We shift the customers in over 40 countries and that gives us a real geographically diverse customer base and allows us to adapt to some of the things in the market. A good example would be India with the subsidy programs, because we have such a diverse customer base, we can adapt to that.
We have a very strong balance sheet, I think everybody is aware of that. I'll talk about that a little more, when we talk about use of capital. Certainly we're optimizing our asset portfolio in first and things of that. I can go back through that, but to just make sure and everybody is very aware of our share repurchase ambition. We have the financial might or the financial ability to access a lot and repurchase a very significant number of our shares, we announced that we're planning to do that and we're taking a step towards that. Again I'll go through that in time.
And the last thing just to note is an experienced management team. We have been through this before as a management team, we’ve been through the cycles, we’ve been through the ups, we’ve been through the downs and we have a record of executing on what we would say we do. And that’s probably the one thing I want to highlight. If there is anything I can tell you the take away from this, if you look back at our history, you look back at our presentations, you look back at everything we have said, we have done exactly what we’ve said. So we’ve never left anything to surprise you and I think that’s something important with Mosaic.
So let’s start talking about who we are, our mission is to help the world grow the food it needs. Singularly we believe that is a noble mission but it’s also a good business premise because feeding in the world is going to be larger and larger challenge overtime. So who are we then within that? In phosphate we are the largest finished phosphate producer in the world. We have the largest reserves of the phosphate producers in North America with over 35 years of phosphate reserves. We have introduced the most innovative phosphate product, our MicroEssentials line which has been an extremely good market product and I will talk a little bit more about that, but it’s one of the basic foundations of how we believe we can grow our phosphate business. And we are logistically advantaged because of our location in Florida through the Americas, but two other markets as well but particularly we’re logistically advantaged through the Americas in our phosphate business.
Potash business, second largest potash business in North America over 100 years of reserves, well positioned cost wise also well positioned from a logistics to North America and our relationship with Canpotex for the rest of the world. So two great businesses, two great positions and something we are really proud of.
So let me start up talking about the first of all potash. Well, largely in the quantity business costs are pretty much everything as we think go forward. In potash we are somewhat in the middle of the cost curve, but saying that it’s a very flat cost curve. And a lot of people are aware, we pay probably a $30 a ton [bogie] because of our Esterhazy brand inflow issue. If you put that away, our cost would certainly be down in the first or second quartile. And as we develop our potash business, first of all we have expanded it, so we have expanded it judiciously.
You may have heard a year ago, we actually delayed the expansion of Belle Plaine and Colonsay the second phase is about because we did see this market slowing down. So we have been very judicious about our use of capital, but we are expanding that business, at this stage, we have just finished the expansion of Esterhazy and that’s ongoing, but also we are building that we call K3 which is a full new shaft for our Esterhazy mine, the biggest potash mine in the world, we are building a whole new shaft which once completed will isolate our brand inflow area and allow us to reduce that cost definitely taking us down into that first or second quartile. So we really see a great opportunity in potash for Mosaic and in the long term, we see this as a great business for Mosaic.
The other business of course very important to us is our phosphate business. In the phosphate business we are in the bottom quartile. We are the largest finished phosphate producer in the world as I said. And our rock force is 90% Florida, but there is a diversification in that, we bring rock from Miski Mayo which is a joint venture we entered a couple of years ago in Peru. We bring in rock from Morocco, et cetera. And now as our investment in Saudi Arabia will be bringing our finished products from Saudi Arabia to our market.
So we really diversified our phosphate business. And with the acquisition in CF. CF I am going to talk a little bit on more about the acquisition of CF phosphate business, but with the acquisition of CF phosphate business, we’re also going to optimize a lot of our capital and operating strategy around Florida. So this is, we’re really, we have a lot of faith in the phosphate business long term and we’re investing to execute against that.
So I mentioned earlier, our premium products, particularly our MicroEssentials lines and this has been a fabulous story for Mosaic and I think it gets, as much at our play as I would like to see is obviously the operations person, but what you see here is a product that was essentially 400,000 tons a year in 2009, now represents 10% of the U.S. phosphate fertilizer market. It represents 25% of Mosaic sales at this time.
We have built 2.3 million tons of capacity, metric tons of capacity and we are planning for more. As you can see here, calendar year, ‘13, ‘14 we’re going to pump that up again to a point where we believe it could be as much as 40% of Mosaic products we might be selling as MicroEssentials. And the MicroEssentials story is important what we have found is by building a molecule that has the micronutrients of sulfur and the phosphate all in one place means a distribution to the plant root has been a lot more effective, which gives you better yield, better value for the farmer, better value for the dealer and of course better value for Mosaic.
So this is a higher margin better value product that we're very proud of. And I think, I just want to highlight that it's going to make a difference in the phosphate market overtime. And I think it already is, but it's going to make a big difference in the phosphate market overtime. And we're seeing the same footprint and we're seeing same response in Brazil. So North America and Brazil, we're really seeing market penetration of this product and a great product.
In January, we're actually going to introduce another product, a potash-based micro nutrient enhanced product. And that product, we believe a first real innovation in the potash market in probably 40 years, we hope to change the way people look at potash as well. So, this is a great story, it's an area where Mosaic has been able to do its innovative nature so it's actually changed the market.
I talked earlier about our diversified customer base and I think this is another important aspect of Mosaic that differentiates us. We have distribution capabilities into the countries like Brazil, which are key markets for us. We have deep penetration into North America, which is the other great market for us. So we also have penetration and distribution in China, India and others through our international distribution, where we get not only do we get market, but we get insights into those markets.
So, we really get to understand what those markets are doing, we have insight information with people on the ground who really understand the market, they understand the people, they understand the customers. So, I think this really differentiates Mosaic and you can see while we are definitely a North American centric based with Latin America being the other key thing you just can’t ignore the fact that we sell 25% of our products throughout Asia and that’s phosphate and potash. So it’s not just Canpotex, our own international distribution sold a lot of our products outside of the Americas.
And how do we do this, clearly our secure distributions. And here is if you look at this, this is really our I am just going to come out here because our production base is certainly North America, but we have a great -- because we have the Brazil distribution we have a great access to Brazil, Canpotex has a great access to Asia as well as Mosaic phosphate we can pull which is what was [the outcome] we can also pull into Asia very well as a company. And we have that boots on the ground type access that we don’t believe anybody else does.
So let’s talk now a little bit about the -- so that was Mosaic and how we fit in it. So let’s talk a little bit more about the secular trends. We really are hanging off the believe that as the world population grows and no one I don’t think indenting that world population won’t grow and it might have slowed down slightly, but the other thing that is happening is world wealth is increasing so there is an expanding middle class in those countries, the BRIC countries, whether it would be Brazil, Russia, India or China, but those countries are where the growth is. There are also where the growth of wealth is. So we believe that’s trend is going to continue.
And if you look at the graph on the left you can really see world grain oil seed use, I mean it just hasn’t changed in terms of the pass up or it’s been 20 years. Yes, the market for fertilizer goes up and down, but in that, the overall underlying needs of food continue. And we believe that over the next 40 years, we are going to have to basically come up with another equivalent of Canada, I think it’s Canada, Argentina and UK or something of new productions. Just in these world demands. And so you will start looking at these things and you go well, the only way we are going to do that is through better for life. 60% of the crop productivity today is accounted for by the use of what we call chemical fertilizers. So the reality is as this business goes forward, this is absolutely needed.
Excuse me, the other aspect of this is, we are hearing a lot about this right now which is, well farm economic might be going down a bit. Well, that’s probably, the farm economic has been phenomenal for the last five years, so even if they go down a little bit the other thing we got to look at here is not only revenue per bushel, what you are really asking yourself is revenue per acre. And while the revenue per bushel might have gone down slightly, the productivity per acre and farm has been so much higher that there is a continuous improvement in the economic for farming, particularly in western countries and that.
And the key to that goal from our perspective goal is also while the price of crops is going down so is the price of input. And you can see, if you look at the graph on the left again I don’t know if I have to point at all, walk over again, but if you look at the graph on the left this is our chief economist, Mike Ron, Dr. Mike Ron this is, but it’s an affordability index for fertilizers. And you can see there is unprecedented in a lot number of years affordability for our fertilizers. So it’s just at least on a demand side, we’re in really good shape as we go forward.
Here we go. So what is going to happen overtime as we see it. The demand picture, we are pretty confident, it’s going to go up, it’s going to go up fairly steadily. Certainly potash demand has probably not grown up as quick as we have predicted five years ago, but again if you believe the underlying food story, you know that sooner or later that has to be picked. India is going to have to come up with better subsidy program, Asia is going to continue to use more, China has got the get -- they are going to buy in sweets maybe but ultimately they got to buy, because we got to feed a lot of people in this world.
And so what do we speak, the issue we see is not so much the demand side, that one fix with population everything else, the question on both sides is probably supply. And in potash what we are seeing is yes, there is probably a bit of an oversupply. I think there was a rush out of the gate by people to build capacity for the ‘08 or the ‘07 for ‘10 area, where there was an undersupply. But we do see that tailing off and demand catching up to that fairly, quickly and we see an operating rate in the mid 80s which is not a bad operating rate for this industry.
In phosphate, we believe it’s much more compelling sure, there has been few more tons come in through [OCP] and through [Sally] but we've seen a very steady rise in demand and we see a much more balanced market, where we still see ourselves in the high 80s or even 90s in terms of our running rate. And clearly, when we're running in the 90% range, the market is doing well. But the bottom line that means we've got a reasonably tight market and we're doing well.
So, now let's talk about the very specific thing to Mosaic which is getting on to our financial strategy and what not. Let's first of all just go back to our strategy originally. Our strategy originally was based on basically five pillars, if you will, people; innovation; market access; and growth, all leading to higher shareholder value. So the basics are, if we do the first four right, the shareholder value will follow. And we’ve talked about a few of these. Market access, we continue to focus on getting into these new geographies. We've announced programs to enhance our distribution capabilities in Brazil et cetera. So we're really focused on getting there.
In terms of growth, we've made some big moves recently, and I'll talk a little more in detail on those. But clearly our investment in Saudi was Ma'aden, is an example of us pushing for growth. Our product expansions are coming to a close, but we've really pushed that; and then the CF industry investment, which is another area where we're growing in high quality, high return assets that we can do.
Innovation and things like MicroEssential and the potash product are good examples. But the one that we don't talk about in innovation that Mosaic has done, if things like co-generation of electricity. We've added millions of dollars of value, and I where millions like $10 million, $20 million, $30 million a year of value, by just having our people being more innovative about how they use power down in Florida and how we co-generate power. We are going to start up another co-generation at our big New Wales plant. And it’s going to add about $30 million a year of value to us by allowing us to not buy power from the grid.
So these are the innovations, we don’t talk about as much. People think of innovation, they only think of product innovations, but we’ve done some huge things on productivity. And if you’ve seen our presentations and other things, you will see our mining costs in Florida have been flat for five years, flat to declining for five years, even against the back drop of a close down, our best lowest cost mine was closed down for almost a year and half because of a permit issue. And in all that time by being very innovative and working on productivity, our teams have been able to improve the cost per ton. These are fantastic things.
And then people obviously; we believe the big differentiator for Mosaic is those people. It’s the people who drive the businesses, it’s the people who drive the value, come up with the ideas; they are the ones that make a big difference to our company. Altogether what does that add up to? We believe that adds up to real shareholder value.
Now, the other aspect of shareholder value, and I will talk about that a little bit is, we are also looking at a portfolio. There was some big announcements recently. But if you go back to October when we did our Investors Day, back then we said look, we are going to start looking very hard at our cost, our assets and all this, and you say that we haven’t for the last five years. But in that -- in the meantime since then, we have announced that we are shutting our Hersey operation from a potash perspective selling [sales] operation, selling our southern column business which is Argentina and Chile, while same time buying CF and cancelling our ammonia deal, so a number of things to rebalance our portfolio in a responsible way.
And I want to highlight that; rebalancing our portfolio in a responsible way. We are not going to read (inaudible). And if the questions come up later today about what we are doing about cost, I will tell you that same answer, we are not going to need just the cost, we are going to do the responsible way for the long term of Mosaic.
So let’s talk about cash used. And I know you guys that you’ve heard one presentation from Larry or 100 presentations from Larry, we have never changed our priorities on cash used. So, I just want to maintain those or go through those again though. First priority for us is we said we would maintain investment grade. That is our first priority. We are going to have the cash reserve to manage through the good times and the bad times and we are never going to get ourselves caught out, or certainly as far as never did ourselves caught out. So, that’s the first thing.
The next thing is sustaining our assets. We believe long term value will be added to the shareholders by maintaining those assets in a good way. They will perform better for us, they will perform less expensively for us. So, we are going to maintain those assets, and maintain our dividend. Now again, important thing, so you’re your dividend and we’ve increased our dividend a lot, we are going to maintain that. And those are first two priorities. The next priority is to drive the organic growth, the organic being the (inaudible) expansion, the first (inaudible) expansions et cetera. But those are our next priorities.
The next opportunity is the strategic investment. And we believe right now is a good time to make those strategic investments. We believe right now is a good time to do CF; we believe right now was a good time to investment with the Saudis in Saudi Arabia. So, and then the last one is to return money to the shareholders. And in that we have been absolutely consistent. We said way back when the shares became available we would start negotiating with the Trust, the Cargill Trust. We are in the process of negotiating with those trusts. If the opportunity comes up, we will buy as many of those Class A shares as we can. But in any transaction, you have to have a buyer but you also have to have a seller.
So if the seller does not want to sell all or most of those shares, we will go to the open market to buy share. We will restructure our balance sheet by the middle of next year as Larry has said, been saying for the last year. So I know everybody likes to see it happen on November 26th, but there are steps in there we have to take and we just got to that point now. We are in that, we’ve taken out, you will see we took our $2 billion worth of bond debt. We've restructured for our -- it’s our liquidity buffer, we are ready for the next step. And we are executing that. And it will come in its time, and we will keep you up-to-date as that comes. So, I just want to point out that that's there.
The next offset of us is again going back to the long term, we will have a need for a sustaining capital; we will have a need for organic growth. But we've really been good about saying okay now, we've done this push, we should see that capital for coming down. So as you look at our estimate going down, going forward, we definitely will go down. We have some big investments though. The Ma'aden joint venture will be likely $1 billion or close to a $1 billion of spending overall.
We have some supply chain in international. We said we’re going to continue to expand our international footprint. But overall, now that we're through the big potash expansion, CF, sorry -- expansion of the CF. On the other side, we've canceled the ammonia project. So overall, CF has been negated by that. And I'm going to talk about that now.
So, let's just talk quickly on CF. We think CF was a really good strategic deal. And again I'm going to walk down; wasn't my intention to walk down here but I just wanted to point out, when we did the deal with CF industries for the phosphate, we called the project, project doughnut. And I'm going to tell you why. This is CF, this is Mosaic; it really was the whole in the doughnut for us. I mean it couldn't have been more sustained to call this project doughnut. And what we're going to see and the reason this is still compelling for us is the next big development for Mosaic is the Ona mine, which is right down here.
South Pasture is here and I think we should see Four Corners over here. And I'm not going to try and giving you a mining lesson but I want to point that out, because one of the big synergies here is we're going to expand the South Pasture mine. Our intention is to expand the South Pasture mine and put a remote mining area in Ona, so we won't have to put -- we'll have to put a $0.5 billion in to do the South Pasture expansion but we won't have to the 1 billion to do the Ona mine.
So, in that we're saving $500 million in our go forward strategy by having access to the South Pasture plant. The other thing is our Four Corners, believe not pointed out our Four Corners on the West is to the Four Corners mine now connects as part of the Ona as well. So between those two, we're going to greatly reduce capital.
But the other thing is we're going to greatly improve our operating cost because of the synergies that come from all of that just being so, approximate to each other. So, great thing there. The other aspect of it is you know this came with an ammonia offtake agreement out of Louisiana out of their Donaldsonville, which we believe is a great deal for both of us. It’s a natural gas based contract, it saves us to be cost of building $1.1 billion of ammonia plant and at least them in nitrogen which they are good at and it puts us in phosphate which we are good at. But net-net take a 1 billion out for the nitrogen plant; we were talking about building, 0.5 billion of direct capital synergies at Ona. Our capital spend going forward, now the timing is slightly different but exactly the same as what we would have done if we hadn’t done CF. And this is going to give us $30 plus million of EBITDA increment a year.
So, we think this is a great deal -- sorry, $0.30 a share, my apologies. I think $230 million of EBITDA and $0.30 a share, my apologies for -- I just want to make EBITDA has been right, very good payback, we did the other way. So look, CF good deal, I think a good deal. And one of those rare occasions where I believe it was a good deal for both parties; I think it was good for CF and I think it was good for Mosaic. So that it’s not every deal you can say that about.
So last, let me just conclude. In a capital intensive cyclical business, creating value is all about really being looking at long-term capital allocation, long-term cost, long-term market access. Those are really the key things we’ve got to do. We believe Mosaic is spending their efforts doing those things and doing those spends with the long view. And I can’t emphasize that enough is that if you take a short view in this business, I don’t think you are going to be a successful long-term, because you really have to be looking out (inaudible) there.
We are addressing the things we can control. It’s cyclical, so what are we doing, we said this at our Investor Day in October, we will say it again. We can’t control the market, but we can control a lot of what -- how we fit in the market, and we are doing that. And then finally, Mosaic is uniquely positioned to take advantage of this cycle and to take advantage of the long term agricultural trend.
So we believe we are in a great place, we believe agriculture is a great place to be. And within agriculture certainly crop nutrient is the best or certainly one of the best places to be. And we are right in the middle of it, so great company, great long-term future. Thank you.
Two questions. Your slide on CapEx goes beyond over the next two years, if fertilizer prices are maybe stronger than you envisioned and our cash flow is higher than budgeted, does that mean CapEx going out could be bias upwards? I mean we see lot of companies that they talk about, various industries about CapEx declining, as you approach that year, they find projects increase (inaudible)
Clearly, if price -- if the market is good, it makes more sense sometimes to spend the capital. We believe we have done all of capital on the long-term. I don’t see any big lead that they are going to come out of the woodwork as you say. So is the capital going to go up? It will only go up if we see an opportunity that really has mediated the company. So in other words, it will be an investment. If the sustaining capital is not going to change, our investment in expansion of our market business isn’t going to change. So that's all pretty set. Clearly we've delayed the Belle Plaine project if the market really changed in potash, might make sense to look at that again. But we’ll only do that if it adds cost of capital plus the risk premium, plus our expectation.
And then switching topic, your slide on the potash cash cost curve that you had early on the presentation, how do you think that will look three to five years out directionally, shape of the curve, any changes?
The curve itself or our position on it? Well, it’s been our belief and we can’t speak for the rest of the world, but it’s our belief that the eastern block countries will be under more cost pressure over time. They do have an advantage in terms of labor cost and what not right now, but if the growth of those countries is good then there will be a -- their cost will go up as well. Conversely, we believe the North American producers and not just ourselves but all the North American producers, as we go up to the utilization because of our expansion will be more efficient, but particularly Mosaic, we will be quite a bit more efficient. So, there will be a transferring of the cost curve slightly towards the North American I believe over time.
But again, these cost curves -- one thing you got to put in perspective of potash is the cost of getting it out of the ground is X, the cost of getting it to that market is probably two-thirds to 80% of that. So in other words, it's very market specific. We are a lot more competitive in North America than we are in say well in Europe or we're just not competitive in Europe. So it really depends on where you do the cost curve. I think the one here was down to tight water. But it really depends on where you're going.
Joc, a couple of questions, let me start with an easy one. On MicroEssentials, what kind of premium do you get over regular dam in dollars per tonne?
I think our last announced premium for the manufacturing premium, now in South America, we get a bigger premium because of -- we don't include the retail premium in that, so the retail premium is quite a bit of higher. But not including that, I think we're in the range of $40 price per NIM, but it actually cost us less to make it than the other product as well because the lower phosphate and the product.
Okay. The second question is PCS has announced a cut back in potash production. Can you talk about what your strategy is going to be?
Well again, I'd say we are -- we managed for the long term. And even if you look at Hersey today, we had layoff last month at Hersey. So, we understand that you can't manage cost and asset distribution without sometimes affecting people. We prefer a different way of doing it than some others possibly. We do it very quietly. We will reduce our cost as we said, we continue to focus on our productivity. And at some point, people may be affected. It's not our preference, but people could be affected. But we are very focused on that long-term reduction of our cost. If the market is very poor we might have to take more severe steps but we believe that our strategy going forward is as we said before.
Great. And my last question is, can you differentiate between phosphate and potash and what did you see in terms of application this fall between those two new trends, is phosphate doing a little bit better than potash?
I think if you talk to our sales people, they would say yes, phosphate is probably a little better. There is a little more hesitancy, certainly hesitancy to leave the season with anything and people have been. So one of the things we got to say with both of those are we have drawn down the channel, any kind of disruption like what we had in July where there is a big announcement that stops people from buying and make hesitant to buy, what happens is if it’s still going on the ground, the only place it can come from is that supply channel. So as our supply channel gets depleted, it’s going to have to be replenished. So we believe that’s actually a good sign, we believe we are close to bottom because of that.
The -- just the forecast for phosphate prices short term?
Phosphate prices short term of your economists?
I don’t have that off the top of my head. I know that they have come up slightly as we have gone through the fall season. I think they have come up [early boxes], come up from fall season. But I am not sure the exact numbers that depends somewhat on market and stuff. But it is showing at least some signs of a rebound as we go through the season. Now having said that, we are coming into the December through March which is probably the lowest seasonally for our products.
You just mentioned the depleted inventory levels at the distribution networks and it’s been that way for years, now really going back almost to 2008, where they’ve been drawing down inventory. What do you think it will take to them to actually build that inventories and what is -- like when you says it’s a depleted right now, how much of the depleted, what would it take…
So, let me put that into a concept. In 2008, the channels were full. And I agree they’ve never been full again. What’s happened is people take what they needed for the immediate future last year, first half of the year. Canpotex export were record level month-by-month in the year, sorry, China was taking at record levels but as soon as they had enough for the year, it stopped, right, out of the year, it stopped. It could have been because of the announcement and what not. I think people are much more cautious now; they want end a year empty. So they take what they think they are going to need season. And so what I am saying is that when you’re completely, you got no choice but to replenish.
I don’t know that we will go back to what people are falling, if you will or where they have stuff to go for a couple of seasons. There has to be a real change for people to do that. Maybe this winter people do a little different.
So, is the new world we live in is just in time inventory?
I think much more so than we were even five years ago, I would think so. Much -- fewer long-term contracts more just in time. And you see North America, we’re doing our final price preferred thing, exclusive state ware housing. So to keep the supply chain moving, the producers are having to go further and further into that supply chain rather than the consumer buying it at the mine gate, let’s say. And I think that's the nature of where we’re going to go.
Thank you, thank you all.
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