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Libbey (NYSEMKT:LBY)

Q4 2013 Earnings Call

February 21, 2014 11:00 am ET

Executives

Kenneth A. Boerger - Vice President and Treasurer

Stephanie A. Streeter - Chief Executive Officer, Director and Member of Proxy Committee

Sherry L. Buck - Chief Financial Officer and Vice President

Analysts

Arnold Ursaner - CJS Securities, Inc.

David Luke Eller - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

Bud Bugatch

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Q4 2013 Libbey Earnings Conference Call. My name is Whitley and I'll be your operator for today. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this call is being recorded for replay purposes.

I would now like to turn the conference over to your host for today, Mr. Ken Berger, Vice President and Treasurer. Please proceed.

Kenneth A. Boerger

Thank you, and good morning, everyone. Welcome to Libbey's Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2013 Earnings Conference Call. Our press release and supplemental financials were distributed this morning and are available on our website in the Investor Relations section. We are hosting a live webcast of today's call, which can be accessed on the same section of our website. The replay of today's call will be available on our website for 14 days.

Before we get underway, I'd like to say that this conference call will contain forward-looking statements under the Securities Act of 1933 and other federal securities laws. These statements are based on current expectations, estimates and projections about the market and the industry in which the company operates in addition to management's beliefs and assumptions. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of performance and actual operating results may be affected by a wide variety of factors. For a list of these factors, please refer to the forward-looking statements noted included with our SEC filings.

I would now like to introduce the members of the management team here with me today: Stephanie Streeter, Chief Executive Officer; Sherry Buck, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; and Ronni Smith, Vice President and Corporate Controller. I will now turn the call over to Stephanie.

Stephanie A. Streeter

Thanks very much, Ken, and good morning, everyone. Thanks for joining us for a review of our fourth quarter and full year 2013 operating and financial results. Today, I'll provide my thoughts on our business and the current operating environment, update you on each of our reporting segments and our general perspective for 2014, as well as share the progress that we've made on our strategic plan, Libbey 2015. Sherry will then walk through our detailed financial results for the fourth quarter, after which we will take your questions.

So let's begin with the fourth quarter of 2013. The macroeconomic environment varied by region and channel of distribution during the quarter, as we saw solid sales growth in our Mexican and Latin American region, our EMEA segment and our U.S. sourcing segment. Yet on a global basis, many of our largest retail customers are reporting decreased traffic and average unit retail reductions compared to prior year. Overall, we saw approximately 1% sales growth in the fourth quarter, which when combined with higher capacity utilization and adjusting for loss of production from the furnace malfunction we had in Toledo and lower labor and benefit costs, resulted in adjusted EBITDA of $37.6 million. This represents a record fourth quarter for any time in company history. And these results came in the face of increased energy costs and higher direct material costs.

I'll now review our segments and provide a little bit more color on each of them for the quarter. Fourth quarter sales for our Americas segment were down 1.4% compared to the same period in 2012. We saw a 9.9% increase in our B2B channel of distribution and a very encouraging 1.9% growth in our Foodservice channel. Retail sales were down 10% in the Americas as our results in this channel of distribution were impacted by 3 things: First, our decision to exit the sale of certain low-margin items as we reconfigured our Americas manufacturing footprint; second, a loss of share on varied price competitive items; and finally, by softness in consumer spending and reduced traffic.

In our EMEA segment, despite the challenging economic environment, sales increased for the fourth consecutive quarter, with revenue increasing 8.2% over the same period in 2012. All sales channels showed increases in EMEA. Foodservice was up 8.6%, Retail increased 9.5% and B2B was up 5.7%.

U.S. sourcing, which we are now reporting as a segment due to its increased size and importance, was another area of strength in the quarter, with an 11.5% increase in sales of our dinnerware and flatware products which we sell under the Syracuse and World Tableware brands. This is particularly notable given that we believe this rate of growth far exceeds the overall market growth for these products. We believe it highlights our long-standing capability since 1997 of providing the complete tabletop, including dinnerware, flatware and glass beverageware products. We believe these positive results are directly related to investments in additional marketing and sales capabilities and new products to meet our customers' evolving needs and interests.

Fourth quarter sales recorded in Other were down $800,000 or 8.4%, as a result of a decrease in sales in the Asia Pacific region. Although there are a number of challenges in China, we believe it remains a long-term growth opportunity for Libbey. As you know, China's economy is still largely based on infrastructure and exports and growth in the consumer segment of the economy has slowed. Continuing issues affecting Libbey's sales include the tight credit environment, essentially resulting in inventory destocking by our distributors and the government tightening on consumption and entertainment, known collectively as the 8 rules. These government policy changes impacted Foodservice where Libbey is over-indexed in our Asia Pacific region, thus having an oversized impact on our fourth quarter results. Even with these issues, we continue to believe the Asia Pacific region is a growth opportunity for Libbey. There's income growth in the region, specifically in domestic China, which continues to create new demand for a broad array of tabletop products in the Foodservice and Retail channels. Libbey's manufacturing strength in China and our broad product portfolio remain advantages relative to local competition. Given that, we believe we are positioned to deliver profitable growth in China in 2014.

As we've shared with you before, our constant focus is to get stronger. We continue to improve our cost position in order to optimize our manufacturing, warehousing and distribution network, which should really be able to be deleveraged in an improved sales environment. Our realignment of manufacturing from Shreveport to Toledo and Monterey is nearly complete, which we expect to result in $7 million to $9 million of cost savings in 2014. We're also continuing to ramp up on our drive to further increase productivity in all locations. We expect the new initiatives, combined with the significant progress we made between 2011 and 2013 in restructuring actions, to position Libbey to continue to deliver industry-leading operating margins, cash flow and returns on invested capital, especially if we have an improved sales environment.

In fact, we continue to check the box in terms of being well within the target range on 3 of our 4 defined financial objectives within our Libbey 2015 strategic plan. At 16.4%, our full year adjusted EBITDA margin is solidly within our defined goal to deliver sustained adjusted EBITDA margins of 15% to 18%. The 16.4% adjusted EBITDA margin for 2013 represents our best adjusted EBITDA margin since 2002 when we were a very different company. This performance compared to 16% in 2012 and 13.8% in 2011, represents continued improvement in our efforts to get to the high end of our target range. We believe our adjusted EBITDA margin, whether compared to domestic or international companies, is among the very best in the industry. Additionally, we saw our net debt to adjusted EBITDA ratio improve to 2.8x at year-end 2013, well within our targeted range of 2.5x to 3x. And finally, we also received -- also achieved a return on invested capital or ROIC of 14.7% in 2013, well north of our targeted range of 11% to 13%.

So now let me provide some perspective on 2014. As we begin 2014, we expect our decision to exit some low-margin retail business, as well as the pressure that we saw on retailers, restaurants and consumer durable companies around the globe in 2013, will likely continue to affect us. In this environment, we know we have to be more innovative and aggressive in our sales and marketing efforts. So we are dramatically stepping up our new product efforts and the sales and marketing programs, especially in our advantage businesses.

We also made changes in 2013 in our U.S. and China sales and marketing organizations to better position our team to gain a better foothold in certain areas we've concluded are underpenetrated, attractive market opportunities. In 2014, while we expect to experience some continued weakness in retail demand in the U.S. and Canada and China, we anticipate low single-digit organic sales growth in Latin America and continued modest revenue growth through all the regions in the company in the Foodservice and business-to-business channels. We expect our first quarter 2014 results to be impacted by the harsh winter weather throughout the United States, as both restaurant and retail traffic has been affected. In addition, many consumers will feel the impact of increased heating bills. The increase in natural gas costs will not only impact consumers, but will negatively impact Libbey as we'll likely pay up to $2 million more for natural gas during the quarter than we did in the prior year first quarter.

After a difficult January, we have seen a stronger February so far. We would expect that all of these factors may result in slightly lower adjusted EBITDA than we reported in the first quarter of 2013, which I'll remind you, was far and away a record first quarter. The company anticipates that for the full year 2014, it will generate improved adjusted EBITDA margins compared to the full year 2013 as we work to realize the $7 million to $9 million in benefits of the realignment of our North American capacity. We're just now beginning to see the benefits of that realignment, which will likely result in us being at the mid- to lower end of the $7 million to $9 million in savings for 2014. The reason for that is that we started out a little bit slower in January than we originally expected. The benefits in the first quarter will likely only be about half of what we expect to realize ratably in each of the remaining 3 quarters of 2014.

Now I'll turn the discussion over to Sherry Buck, our Chief Financial Officer, who will further detail our fourth quarter results and will provide some key cash flow assumptions for 2014. Sherry?

Sherry L. Buck

Thank you, Stephanie, and good morning, everyone. I will review our fourth quarter and full year financial results in each of our reporting segments using the categories Americas; Europe, Middle East and Africa or EMEA; U.S. sourcing; and Other. We recorded sales for the fourth quarter 2013 of $221 million compared to $219.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2012, an increase of 0.9%. Sales in our Americas segment were $154.1 million compared to $156.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. As Steph mentioned, this was driven by a strong performance in Latin America and our B2B channel of distribution as well as nearly 2% growth in our Foodservice channel.

Sales in our EMEA segment increased to $38.7 million, an 8.2% increase. Sales in EMEA were strong all year and were up 8.7% for the full year 2013 compared to the prior year. Sales in U.S. sourcing, which includes our sourced ceramic dinnerware, metal tableware, holloware and serveware, were $19.8 million compared to $17.7 million in the prior year quarter as sales of World Tableware and Syracuse China flatware and dinnerware increased 11.5%. Other sales were $8.5 million compared to $9.2 million in the prior year fourth quarter. This was a result of an 8.4% decrease in sales in the Asia Pacific region. The performance in the Asia Pacific region was primarily the result of continuing tight credit in China and the impact of various government regulations in China.

After adjusting for special items, fourth quarter selling, general and administrative expenses increased $300,000 or approximately 1% as compared to the fourth quarter of 2012. This reflects investments in sales and marketing programs to drive both fourth quarter results and to begin to set the foundation for growth from new products in 2014. Adjusted EBITDA of $37.76 million was $7.7 million more than the $29.9 million reported in the prior-year quarter and was an all-time record for any fourth quarter company -- fourth quarter in company history. The primary factors contributing to the improvement in adjusted EBITDA were higher capacity utilization, adjusting for loss of production from our furnace malfunction in Toledo and lower labor and benefit costs. Partially offsetting these improvements were increased natural gas and other energy costs as well as higher direct materials.

We also achieved an adjusted EBITDA margin of 17% in the fourth quarter, which represents an all-time record for any fourth quarter. This represents a significant improvement over the 13.6% adjusted EBITDA margin in the fourth quarter of 2012. Treated as a special item in the fourth quarter is $1.9 million for unexpected expenses and underutilization of capacity resulting from a furnace malfunction in our Toledo, Ohio manufacturing facility. The expenses in the fourth quarter of 2013 related to the furnace repairs, underutilization of capacity and transportation costs, which were net of $5 million insurance recovery, all of which were excluded as special items in our adjusted results.

As we move down the income statement, we realized a decrease in interest expense in the quarter of $900,000 to $7.7 million, primarily driven by lower debt as a result of the continuing benefit of retiring $45 million of our outstanding senior notes in the second quarter, an additional $10.2 million net reduction and debt outstanding in the fourth quarter. Our focus on debt reduction and strengthening the balance sheet has resulted in a net debt to adjusted EBITDA of 2.8x, well within our overall goal of 2.5 to 3x net debt to adjusted EBITDA.

Our effective tax rate was an expense of 42.5% for the quarter ended December 31, 2013 compared to 67.7% for the quarter ended December 31, 2012. The effective tax rate was influenced by foreign jurisdictions with differing statutory rates, the impact of tax legislation in certain foreign jurisdictions, accruals related to uncertain tax positions, foreign withholding tax, and other activity in jurisdictions with recorded valuation allowances.

We had available capacity of $70.5 million under our ABL credit facility as of December 31, 2013, with no loans currently outstanding. The company also had cash on hand of $42.2 million at December 31, 2013. We invested $19.3 million in CapEx during the fourth quarter compared with $15.5 million in the year-ago period. CapEx for the full year was $49.4 million, within the expected range of $46 million to $50 million. Depreciation and amortization amounted to $9.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2013, and $44 million for the full year 2013, compared to $10.6 million in Q4 2012 and $41.5 million for the full year 2012. And finally, working capital defined as inventories and accounts receivable, excluding a $5 million receivable and insurance claim, less accounts payable as of December 31, 2013, was $173.1 million, which was flat with the prior-year number of $172.7 million. Working capital remains relatively unchanged from the prior year due to higher inventories and receivables, offset by higher accounts payable.

Looking at our capital priorities. We have a disciplined approach to how we allocate capital and analyze all alternatives. Our highest 2 priorities are continued strengthening of our balance sheet through debt repayments and reinvesting in the growth of the business, whether through investments in new technology or in financially attractive acquisitions that support our strategy. Absent any of these, we would further analyze other uses including share repurchases and dividends.

As we look at some of the key assumptions for 2014 cash flow, you should expect CapEx of $55 million to $59 million. This higher than normal expenditure on CapEx includes $17 million to $18 million related to our planned investments in new technology in our Shreveport, Louisiana facility, announced in November of 2013. Working capital is likely to increase around 5% in dollars driven by a currency impact and lower accounts payable due to the timing of expenditures in 2013 versus 2014. We expect pension expense of approximately $14 million in 2014 and cash contributions of approximately $11 million. Cash interests should be in the range of $26 million to $28 million. As far as cash taxes for 2014, we believe they will be in the range of $11 million to $13 million compared to $11 million in 2013.

We would now like to open the call for any questions. And Steph will have some brief summary comments at the end of the Q&A.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Your first question comes from the line of Arnie Ursaner with CJS Securities.

Arnold Ursaner - CJS Securities, Inc.

My first question is one for Sherry, and it's kind of mechanical. You said you are presenting the material in a different format. Are you planning to put out an 8-K restating prior years for the same format?

Sherry L. Buck

If you're -- Arnie, if you're talking about the U.S. sourcing, we have the comparable information in the release.

Arnold Ursaner - CJS Securities, Inc.

For the quarter or going back?

Sherry L. Buck

For the quarter. And then as we go forward you'll see it in each of the recording quarters.

Arnold Ursaner - CJS Securities, Inc.

But we're not going to do any prior look back until you report the quarters?

Sherry L. Buck

Yes. [indiscernible]

Stephanie A. Streeter

All of the '13 is in the release.

Arnold Ursaner - CJS Securities, Inc.

Okay. And you talked a lot on the call about expanding your sales and marketing efforts. Perhaps you can give us a little better feel for perhaps the changes in headcount that you have put in and maybe give us a better feel for how you hope that will generate additional revenues?

Stephanie A. Streeter

Sure, I'll take that one, Arnie. We talked about increasing, especially our Foodservice salesforce in the United States and Canada by about 20%. And we also increased in China by about the same number during the year. And we had slight increases in Mexico, Latin America and a couple of new hires in EMEA. And it's all -- basically, it's included in the fourth quarter. And actually, we made many of those changes during the year. And all of it would be included in sort of the direction that we gave you for 2014.

Arnold Ursaner - CJS Securities, Inc.

Okay. Stephanie, you didn't comment on price changes that you may have implemented or incentives from distributors you have put in the price increase, could you comment on that?

Stephanie A. Streeter

Sure. We announced the price increase in the U.S. and Canada Foodservice, that will take effect late in the first quarter and it's a 4% on glass, 5% on ceramics and 4% on flatware.

Arnold Ursaner - CJS Securities, Inc.

And I'll conclude my remarks with a final question. Normally at this time, you get asked about your intent or goal or likeliness of paying down the $45 million of senior debt when you are able to, given your cash and other factors. I would assume it's no issue but maybe you could just clarify that for everyone?

Stephanie A. Streeter

We currently anticipate being able to take advantage of the ability to exercise the 10% call on our senior notes in the second quarter of 2014.

Arnold Ursaner - CJS Securities, Inc.

Okay. Not a whole lot of ambiguity around that message, I assume.

Stephanie A. Streeter

That's what we currently anticipate, no.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Your next question comes from the line of Grant Jordan with Wells Fargo.

David Luke Eller - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

This is David Eller, filling in for Grant. I think you mentioned you're expecting low single-digit organic growth in Latin America and for -- and also increases in Foodservice and the B2B business. Can you give us a sense for kind of the overall constant currency sales that you'd expect for 2014?

Stephanie A. Streeter

Let me just give you 2014 in general because overall, we would expect low- to single-digit organic growth for the company. Then I also talked about the $7 million to $9 million cost savings from the reconfiguration of North America and continued improvement in the adjusted EBITDA margins beyond the 16.4% that we had in 2013.

David Luke Eller - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

Got you. And then you talked a little bit about the sales and marketing changes, I would take that to mean there's going to be increases in the SG&A expense for 2014, is that consistent with your expectations?

Sherry L. Buck

Yes, yes.

Stephanie A. Streeter

Yes. Yes, there should be increased SG&A in 2014. Some of that will be because of the increase that we have in marketing, selling, administrative. And some of it will be because of a move that we've made to standardize our standard costs and some of that will move from the gross profit down into SG&A.

David Luke Eller - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

Got you. And then you would expect SG&A expense to leverage that expense with sales growth or you'd expect that SG&A rate to expand as well?

Stephanie A. Streeter

I'd expect it to go up a little bit. But we certainly would hope to leverage it. So what we've said before is that we had hoped to get into the low 12% range in SG&A and that'll probably be up a percentage or so for the year. And I don't know if you expect that in terms of a leverage, but with low single-digit organic growth, we'll leverage it to some extent.

David Luke Eller - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

And then my last question, sounds like you went from negative Foodservice trends in U.S. and Canada in the prior quarter to a 10% -- 2% increase in Q4, can you give us additional color on kind of the drivers of that reversal, whether it be foot traffic, timing, weather, kind of just give us some additional color there?

Stephanie A. Streeter

I think while our sales were up, in U.S. and Canada by 1%-ish, we were up in volume over 5%. So there was a mix shift of products really, and a customer shift as well. But I think we were able to gain a little bit of share.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Bud Bugatch with Raymond James.

Bud Bugatch

You may have said this and I may have just missed it. The furnace rebuild, is it -- that's completed this quarter, the quarter we're in right now or has it been done?

Stephanie A. Streeter

Yes, the furnace should come up to speed and be producing good glass by the end of the first quarter.

Bud Bugatch

By the end of the first quarter, okay. And the -- will we see another charge in this or has it all been encapsulated in 2013?

Sherry L. Buck

Bud, this is Sherry. Yes, we'll continue to have an impact and be treating it as a special item in Q1. We'd estimate that'd be in the range of about $4 million to $6 million.

Bud Bugatch

In Q1. And then nothing else after that, right?

Sherry L. Buck

Correct.

Stephanie A. Streeter

And it'll still be treated as a special item.

Sherry L. Buck

Special item.

Bud Bugatch

The $4 million to $6 million, sure. I understand that. Okay. And the earnings question, you're not planning to restate the quarters with the new segment for quarters 1, 2 and 3, until each of them have reported, is that what we understand?

Sherry L. Buck

Yes. Just to clarify on that, if you look in our release this morning, if you look at Table 7, we've outlined there for the U.S. sourcing sales and segment earnings for each of the quarters of 2013. So you see the quarters March, June, September and December, so the prior year is available there.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Arnie Ursaner with CJS Securities.

Arnold Ursaner - CJS Securities, Inc.

Follow-up on the furnace issue. Obviously, because it was out and it's a key furnace helped you get rid of some inventory during the course of the quarter, how are you viewing your inventory at this point and the impact it could have on cash flow?

Sherry L. Buck

Yes, Arnie, this is Sherry. I'd say we were pretty pleased with how we ended up our total working capital for the year. We were expecting to be flat, and that's the way we came in. The work inventory, we ended up a little bit higher than last year. That was really inventory related to our sourcing business and as we've processed becoming a growing part and also some timing there. So as we look forward to next year, we will see some increase in our overall working capital, so that's mainly due to some of the timing of accounts payable and currencies. So I think right now, as we look across kind of our whole system, we feel pretty good about our inventory levels and being able to service the customers as we work through the operational items there.

Arnold Ursaner - CJS Securities, Inc.

Okay. And then the other segment includes China, which has been a pretty important growth engine for you and obviously, I appreciate the changes that are happening in that market. So 2 observations. One is your margin in Q4 despite that headwind was very impressive and you mentioned your margin for the upcoming year should be higher, the EBITDA margin should be higher than the 16.4%. I guess I'm trying to figure out if -- what is embedded in your thinking about China since that's a well above corporate average margin business?

Stephanie A. Streeter

We expect that China will rebound during the course of the year. There's a number of things that we've done there, completely revamping our marketing and selling approach, we restructured our commercial organization, we've launched the e-commerce strategy, we've got significant new product for us. Just in the first quarter alone, we'll introduce 7 new families of products there. So we're hoping that, that gains momentum throughout the year and would expect better results there. I think the margins will improve, but that'll be largely on expected sales increases in the region.

Arnold Ursaner - CJS Securities, Inc.

Okay. And the China facility, are you targeting more internal sales or are you thinking you have better opportunities to export from your China facility?

Stephanie A. Streeter

We're targeting -- our intent for that facility is domestic China. We do export to a number of other places, but our strategy is to focus on domestic China and that marketplace.

Arnold Ursaner - CJS Securities, Inc.

Okay. A final question for me. Obviously, the largest global company, your competitor is ARC and they clearly have a fair amount of inventory that they've been talking about, trying to work down pretty aggressively. Are you seeing them in the market and you did mention you are seeing some price competition, is it coming from them or others?

Stephanie A. Streeter

It's coming from everybody. The price competition is coming from everyone. There's been a number of things that have happened on the competitive front. As you know, Arnie, you've followed us for a long time. There's a lot of capacity in the industry and we've had a European competitor who has just opened a new furnace with a number of production lines in Eastern Europe. And as you mentioned, ARC has, actually through the fourth quarter, worked through a lot of the additional revenue that they wanted to get from their inventory and we haven't seen them go especially crazy lately. So we think that's a good sign. But there's a lot of -- there's no end to the level of competitiveness and that's why we've spent so much time getting our costs right. And now, making sure that we pivot towards paying attention to marketing, sales, new product development and really trying to push the accelerator down on growth.

Arnold Ursaner - CJS Securities, Inc.

I guess I do have one more question regarding the source product. A lot of that is manufactured for you by others, is that correct?

Stephanie A. Streeter

All of it is manufactured by others.

Arnold Ursaner - CJS Securities, Inc.

So how should we think about the long-term implication, to the extent that grows very rapidly, won't that dramatically improve your return on capital?

Stephanie A. Streeter

It should -- it is a great ROIC business, yes.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] There are no further questions in the queue. I'll now turn the call over to Stephanie Streeter for closing remarks.

Stephanie A. Streeter

Thank you very much, Whitley. Thanks, everybody, for joining us on our call today. Let me conclude by emphasizing that we believe the long-term drivers of our business model remain strong. We remain on track with our longer-term goals, including beginning to grow the top line, increasing profitability and cash generation. Our debt and operating restructuring initiatives over the past 2 years have strengthened our balance sheet and our cost position considerably, and we're now focused on productively growing our business across our global operations. These steps, combined with our strong market positions, the breadth of our product portfolio, our revised focus on marketing and sales, innovation and superior customer service, position us well to realize value-driving benefits as demand in certain markets strengthen. Even though the first quarter will be slower than we'd like due to weather and related issues, we are cautiously optimistic about the year ahead and we look forward to continuing to make progress on our goals and increasing shareholder value in 2014. Thanks very much for your support of Libbey. And I hope you have a great day.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes today's conference. Thank you for your participation. You may now disconnect. Have a great day.

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