Pioneer Drilling Company Q2 2010 Earnings Call Transcript

Aug. 6.10 | About: Pioneer Energy (PES)

Pioneer Drilling Company (PDC) Q2 2010 Earnings Call August 5, 2010 ET

Executives

Anne Pearson - IR, DRG&E

Stacy Locke - President and CEO

Lorne Phillips - EVP, CFO

Analyst

Jim Rollyson - Raymond James

Steve Ferazani - Sidoti & Co.

Ryan Fitzgibbon - Pritchard Capital

John Daniel - Simmons & Co.

John Keller - Stephens

Presentation

Operator

Good morning, ladies and gentleman. And thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Pioneer Drilling Second Quarter Earnings Call. During today's presentation, all parties will be in a listen-only mode. Following the presentation, the conference will be open for questions. (Operator Instructions)

This conference is being recorded today, Thursday, August 5, 2010. As a reminder the replay information can be found in this morning's news release. I would now like to turn the conference over to Anne Pearson with DRG&E, Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

Anne Pearson

Thank you, Brandy and good morning, everyone. Before management begins their formal remarks I have a few of the usual items to cover.

First, a replay of today's call will be available and is accessible by webcast, by going to the Investor Relations section of Pioneer's website and also by telephone replay through May 13. You can find all of the replay information in today's news release.

Information recorded on this call speaks only as of today August 5, 2010, so any time-sensitive information may no longer be accurate as of the time of any replay. Management may make forward-looking statements today that are based on its beliefs and assumptions and information currently available to them.

Although management believes the expectations reflected in these statements are reasonable, they can give no assurance that they will prove to be correct. These statements are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions which are described in this morning's earnings release and also in the most recent filings with the SEC. Should one or more of these risks materialize or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may differ materially.

Please also note that this conference call may contain certain references to non-GAAP measures. You can find reconciliations to the GAAP financial measures in Form 8-K as well as in this morning's news release.

Now, I'd like to turn the call over to Stacy Locke, Pioneer President and CEO. Stacy?

Stacy Locke

Thank you Anne and good morning appreciate everybody joining the second quarter call. With me here in San Antonio on the call are Red West, our President of the Land Drilling Division; and Joe Eustace, President of the Production Services Division; and Lorne Phillips, our Chief Financial Officer.

As you can see from the press release business was clearly back on track in the second quarter. We had strong results both from the drilling division and the production services division.

In total revenues were up 36% to 117 million far better than our expectations. Operating margin as a percentage of revenue was up 6% to 29% again far better than our expectations. And EBITDA was up and locking 139% to 22 million for the quarter. And for the first time in our company's history we generated over 50% of our revenues from oil based activity.

This has been one of our long term strategic goals beginning in about 2005 and I think it greatly reduces the company's dependency on any one commodity line. Now turning to the drilling division, we made quite a bit of progress on adapting our fleet for the shale activity that we have seen all across the country and securing those upgrades with term contracts.

By the end of August, 35 of our 71 drilling rigs of 29% will have installed top drives and be working at 100% utilization. In addition 31 rigs will be operating under term contracts. 31 of the 46 active rigs today were operating at 65% utilization today so 31 of our 65 active rigs or 66% of the fleet are now protected with term contracts.

By the end of this month all rental top drives will have been released and 8 of the 35 rigs with top drives that have been upgraded are mechanical with average day rates in excess of 17,000 per day and 5 of those mechanical rigs are backed by term contracts as well.

When you termed our region and take a look at our progress, going first to the Marcellus we now have 7 rigs contracted in the Marcellus the seventh rig is finalizing preparations it will be mobilizing at the end of august all 7 of these rigs are our 60 series trailer mounted fast moving rigs they have been very well received up there operating at 100% utilization 100% of those rigs are under term contracts and by the time the seventh rig arrives there we will have 100% of the rigs with skidding systems which as we talked in prior calls is a great advantage both us and the operator that keeps more of these operating days on drilling at the day rate as opposed to more days and less cumbersome during particularly the winter months when you have weather situations so we are very pleased about that.

In Bakken we have got 8 rigs even our 2 shallow rigs are not utilized there so all 8 rigs most of the Bakken oriented rigs are our 50 series rigs which is the triple 750 hook load. We got one as a million down hook load mass rig. They are 100% utilized and they are 100% under term contracts so we are very pleased with the progress we have made there.

We are particularly pleased with our ability to put our shallow rigs to work as well. In the Eagle Ford we are now up to 12 operating rigs that’s approximately 15% of the total market share for the Eagle Ford rigs working today. 50% of those rigs are under term. So the Eagle Ford has been a great boost to Pioneer Drilling and that it is right in our backyard and its in one of our stronger operating areas across Texas and as we previously discussed Columbia our 8 rigs are down there operating we just completed our walking system on the seventh rig so with that behind us we are 100% utilized 100% under term there and we will install our final walking system on the eighth rig in October of this year.

There again moves are challenging in Columbia by having so many rigs with walking systems we will gain freight efficiency as the rig moves the majority of which will be less than a day with the walking system.

For the quarter in the drilling division utilization was 58% up from 49% in the first quarter about where we expected and drilling margins per day increased over $1,500 a day of 46-48 also about as we expected.

As I previously mentioned we are currently operating 46 rigs today at a 65% utilization, 28 of those are electric 18 are mechanical of the 18 mechanical 8 are upgraded with top drives and then we have the one additional rig moving to the Marcellus at the beginning end of August.

Now turning to the production service divisions revenues there were also up 36% well ahead of our expectations and margin as a percentage of revenue was up a whopping 6% well ahead of our expectations it took 40% operating margins very strong this early into recovery.

When you look at production services in total it contributed 35% of the overall revenues in the quarter and over 45% of the EBITDA, so we are very pleased with the progress we have made there. Drilling down a little bit into production services looking at the well services section utilization there has increased from 60 to 74% in the second quarter and average out of the rate is up about 2.7% to $456 per hour.

Leading edge results by any way you measure it. Wire line was up in both utilization and margin revenue for the wire line was up over 40% and EBITDA was up over 75% of the quarter our expansion into the shale plays has proved successful and beneficial this is the Marcellus Haynesville and Eagle Ford as a result we have grown in the wire line group about 23% in terms of the number of units so far this year and expect to end the year with a 30% unit growth or expanding from 64 units to 84 units.

That is the one area where we have grown, will grow during 2010. Turning to Fishing and Rental, Fishing and Rentals is gradually improved each of the last four quarters and in the second quarter finally again became a real contributor to the financials.

When you look at production services as in total without a doubt it is best in class result from this group. Let me now turn it over to Lorne for a financial recap.

Lorne Phillips

Thanks Stacy good morning everyone. In the second quarter Pioneer had a net loss of 10.1 million or $0.19 per share and this compares to a net loss of 14.5 million or $0.27 per share in the first quarter of 2010.

Consolidated revenue was 117 million which was up 31 million from the first quarter. Our EBITDA increased to 22 million compared to 9.2 million for the prior quarter.

Looking first to drilling services total revenues in drilling services were 76.1 million this was an increase 36% from the first quarter, of that total Columbian revenues accounted for 20.3 million up from 15.7 million in the prior quarter. Turnkey revenues were 8.6 million in the second quarter compared with 4 million in the first quarter.

In the most recent quarter we completed two turnkey jobs and two more were in progress at the end of June which is since been successfully completed. The drilling and services gross margin climbed to 23% from 18% in the prior quarter.

As Stacy mentioned this increase was the result of greater utilization and increased revenues per day in both US and Columbia and as a result our margin per day increase 48% to 4648. Production services performance in the quarter continued to improve in all of the businesses as Stacy outlined.

Revenues were 40.9 million with a gross margin of 40%. Couple more comments on the work over business that all but two of our units are actively marketed with crews and we expect those to return to work this quarter and overall our work over hours in the second quarter were up approximately 25% from the first quarter which is the highest number of hours in our history.

Company wide SG&A cost were 12.3 million versus 11.5 million in the first quarter. The increase was driven primarily by increased compensation related costs and for the full year SG&A is estimated to be in the $49-$50 million. Depreciation and amortization costs were 29.6 million in the second quarter and given our capital expenditure outlook for the rest of the year we expect G&A to be in the $118-$120 million range.

Our interest expense was 7.1 million this compares to 4.1 million in the prior quarter and 1.7 million a year ago and this increase reflects the higher levels of interest that we are paying on the notes that we issued in March.

Our effective tax rate in the first half of the year was 25.6% which is close to the 35% level we expect for the full year. Moving onto the balance sheet, at June 30, 2010 we had 22.8 million outstanding and 9.2 million in committed letters of credit under our $225 million revolving credit facility.

Our cash ac cash equivalents at the end of the quarter were 17.3 million. At the end of the second quarter we were in compliance with our financial covenants under the facility. Our total consolidated leverage ratio was 4.25 to 1 our senior consolidated leverage ratio was 0.48 to 1 and our interest coverage ratio was 4.04 to 1.

In response to the higher levels of industry activity our board has approved 2010 capital spending increases totaling 45.6 million resulting in the total 2010 capital expenditure budget of 125.6 million. Of the increase 36.4 million in discretionary and will be used primarily for rig upgrades which includes top drives walking, skidding systems and higher horsepower mud pumps.

The other 9.2 million is classified as routine and tubular's and is driven by higher utilization levels forecasted for the rest of the year. We expected that our drilling rig upgrade programs and the associated spending will be close to completion by late fourth quarter or early first quarter 2011.

To fund this CapEx increase and working capital investments we do expect to borrow additional funds on our revolver over the remainder of the year. Depending on the timing of the expenditures the additional amount borrowed could be in the 15 to $30 million range. And with that I will turn it back over to Stacy.

Stacy Locke

Thank you Lorne I would like to take just a minute to talk about what we see in terms of that market going forward. From our vantage point and in our market we see strength we see continued demand I think that we are being aided by the fact that we are so heavily oriented in the oil market so we do see a lot of demand I think most importantly and the driver behind some of the CapEx increase is what is going on the in the land drilling day rate market. The forward rate has again strengthened since our last quarter just by way of comparison for the heavy 1,500 horsepower class, top drive rigs, fit for purpose style rigs, last quarter I mentioned those day rates were in the 18,000 plus range today I think those rates are more in the 20,000 plus range.

For the 1,200 horsepower mechanical top drive rigs I said last quarter that those rates were in the 16,000 range I will say today that is the 17,000 plus range and for the smaller non top drive mechanical rig, the Cabot 750, 900, 1000 horsepower box-on-box rigs those rates range from 10 to 13,000 and I would say that those are firmed up a little bit to a range of 11 to 14,000.

So the day rate strength that has currently driven the opportunity for us to put more rigs back to work and we have upgraded perhaps more than we anticipated due to this demand and opportunity. Having said that I think that our visibility is that we will see in the drilling side average margins per day increase each of the next three quarters at a minimum and for the next quarter for the third quarter I think we are projecting an increase of $800-$1200 per day on top of what we generated in the second quarter.

Utilization is the trickier component as I mentioned we are up to 65% today we were 58% in Q2 I think we will guide for utilization modestly up in the 60% range but the unknown is I mentioned we had 18 mechanical rigs working 8 of those are upgraded I know what those will do that will be busy but the other 10 are very much a function of natural gas prices and I cant control that and they do correlate. So I think that we will keep a fair amount of activity and it could even go greater I mean but I think we are somewhat range bound until we see gas prices strengthen in this 60 to 70% range.

The best we can tell at this time. On the production service side we think that market is going to continue to be strong as well, however after a 36% increase in revenues and margins coming up far more than we anticipated we are going to guide a little cautiously there I think we do expect revenues to increase but we are going to guide 2 to 5 % increase on revenues Q2 to Q3 and margins more comparable to the second quarter.

We just don’t have enough visibility yet to see that any different so we think that is a safe way to guide there, so that concludes our prepared remarks and we would be happy to entertain any questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

(Operator Instructions) Our first question comes from Jim Rollyson with Raymond James.

Jim Rollyson - Raymond James

Some nice work on the quarter. A question on the rig upgrade program, or even new build potential. Some of your competitors have inked a few deals for new builds, and you guys have obviously been upgrading some rigs. Do you see opportunities to continue that plan generally going forward?

Stacy Locke

Well we are as Lorne mentioned we are about at the end of the upgrade program we have got may be 1 or 2 select opportunities of upgrading that we haven’t even initiated yet but basically we are over. We are at the point where most of the rigs left are almost all of them are mechanical rigs and we don’t want we have upgraded most of the mechanical rigs that would like to upgrade there is a high costs associated with any upgrade and it is actually higher on the mechanical when it is the electric and so our positioning now would be possibly doing these one or two other projects that were analyzing currently but we are really gearing up more towards new builds next year we have our engineering department currently working on our next generation design which will be somewhat similar to the 50 series it will be a 1,500 horsepower class FDR rig probably AC like we did our last rig and we are actually in discussions with customers but as you can see from our balance sheet we have gotten perhaps more limited resources than some of our competitors so we want to be very selective on those project we want to have internal rate of returns north of 20% 3 year term contract coverage in a minimum and but we think those opportunities are going to be there and so we are initiating conversation on that front currently we are designing a rig and I would anticipate that over the next 6 to 9 months we will have secured a contracts that meet our hurdle rates.

Jim Rollyson - Raymond James

That's great color on that. And for a follow-up on Columbia, you're almost through the all of the walking systems, kind of a couple questions there. One, is that a margin enhancement move, or is that something just more required by the customer? And then we've heard other guys, you know obviously Mexico's been soft, and heard a couple guys moving a rig or two.

I think Nabors is talking about moving rigs to Columbia, just kind of curious what you're seeing for demand in Columbia and maybe even related to BP selling assets as well?

Stacy Locke

Well I think undoubtedly Columbia is going to remain strong they stated commitments of increasing production materially roughly doubling production over the next five years they have don’t basically everything they said they were going to do back when we were analyzing the country in 2006 and 7 and so we have a high level of components that they are going to continue with their development programs and become net exporters of oil so we are very bullish on it we do see more demand both from our current customer and other customers and we are continuing to monitor that. It is clearly an opportunity but with our scarce resources that we have we just need to be selective and we are going to build the best return projects first and I have a feeling those are at the ending stage.

Now we are looking at some other I think very high return opportunities that I don’t want to get into any detail on that should they come to fruition we would embark on those too, but no doubt it’s a good market for sure.

Operator

Thank you and our next question comes from the line of Steve Ferazani with Sidoti & Company. Please go ahead.

Steve Ferazani - Sidoti & Co.

Guiding for sizeable increase in terms of drilling margin, trying to get a sense of how much of that is there was some mobilization or restarting costs in Q2, or how much of it is just straight day rate improvement and utilization improvement?

Stacy Locke

Well that is a good question I think that you are going to have both take place, but you really have three components that will help improve margins first and foremost are the day rates coming up everywhere we are doing business now Columbia is back number of those rigs already locked in on long term but in these other markets where our term of 6 months to a year we have continual fleet pricing opportunities in the fleet and every time we re-price the rates go up so that is a part of our certainty that average margins will increase over the next three or four quarters.

Also in that are the efficiency gains lead both by controlling costs but also all of the walking systems and skidding systems that is I don’t think what a contributor the walking systems skidding systems are going to be and essentially what you got there sometimes you are exposed to delays due to weather inability to get trucks and you just don’t earn anything, other times you are earning the moving rate which is at a minimum 15% or so below the day rate and now with the Skidding walking systems you are not subject to any of that and in certain markets like Columbia the move could be anywhere from 2 to three weeks or even in Marcellus that could be anywhere from 4 to 8-9 days, so if you are skidding or walking you can take that mode down to 24 hours or less so you are going to get some tremendous efficiency gains there.

The other thing I had mentioned that we talked a lot about in this last call all of these moving parts mobilizing rigs to Columbia mobilizing rigs to the Marcellus some are which we did during the winter and rigging them up for the first time on skidding or walking systems and then taking existing rigs in Columbia and putting walking systems on them.

All that just takes time and money you loose revenue days your costs are sometimes greater than you expect you have got long modes to get these parts and pieces, a lot of that is behind us so I think particularly in Columbia and the Marcellus, a lot of those strenuous costs items will settle out and we will see costs fall a little bit more in line I think we referenced that in the press release on Columbia that we think costs are settling out there and we will continue to settle through the remainder of the year which the net result will be higher margins.

Steve Ferazani - Sidoti & Co.

And so follow-up would be, the one thing we are hearing about on the cost side is the continued wage pressure build. How much of that can be passed off in some of the faster-growing markets, where I guess it's, the labor market can be tighter?

Stacy Locke

Right well on the drilling rig side from your tool pusher down all that rig cost is a direct pass through to your customer and we have just recently done another increase in wages and our customers accept that they want to keep the crews and the experience and stability there so they are willing to accept it.

But when you push that labor up you might have to then increase cost above that for like safety men, for superintendents for even division managers over time and so we watched that constantly so some of the costs might stick but I don’t think we increased to the levels where that’s material.

It becomes a little bit more material in Columbia we don’t have the same benefit in terms of the pass through as much as that labor cost that so far that hasn’t been a big problem for us but that could be a little bit of a risk on margin there.

Operator

Thank you and our next question comes from Ryan Fitzgibbon, Pritchard Capital please go ahead.

Ryan Fitzgibbon - Pritchard Capital

I want to talk about the term contract coverage. Obviously, that's increased a lot over the past few quarters. I know in the past, you mentioned you opened at six months to a year terms, has that, your willingness to increase the duration, I guess risen in the past few quarters as margins have come up? Any clarity you can provide there?

Stacy Locke

I think the duration isn’t about the same Lorne?

Lorne Phillips

The current contract is about eight months for the US contract and then combined you are looking at 24 months or so. And I think as we look at new contracts we have pushed more towards the one year and the 6 months as we have tried to renew, it doesn’t mean all of them are there but there seems to be more recent activity to that.

Stacy Locke

But if you look our we are 27 rigs under term today with 4 new term pending, so for the third quarter we will have 31 terms, in the fourth quarter assuming no renewals of existing terms it will be 28 term in the first quarter of 2011 there will be 16 terms and second quarter 13 terms third quarter 9 and fourth quarter 8 and then in 2012 you are down to kind of your Columbian rigs. 7 rigs in Q1 and then 6 for the quarter after that. So we still have quite a bit of coverage our into the future but what's certain we will be renewing in fact we have renewals quite a few over the next 6 months that we expect to renew and lengthen in term and increase the day rate on them.

Ryan Fitzgibbon - Pritchard Capital

Okay. And then do you remain focused Eagle Ford, Bakken, and Marcellus, or are there other areas you're targeting the rigs as they roll off terms?

Stacy Locke

Well I am sure in the rigs that are in those markets based on what we are seeing in those markets we are happy in every one of those we are strategically moved into them and the rates are all very good and moving up so we are going to stay in those markets and with respect to new rigs as we build them I would say as I mentioned earlier most of that opportunity will probably come in the US because we think they are just great we haven’t even moved in the Niobrara yet which we think is another developing oil play. So we see just lots of opportunity here I think the Bakken rig count is going up, Marcellus rig count going up, Eagle Ford is going up, Niobrara is going up so those are all good markets for us so we will just we will see I think the rigs where they are today will stay.

Ryan Fitzgibbon - Pritchard Capital

Okay, that's helpful. Then I guess my follow-up would be. Seems like the privates have really picked up and increased the rig count over the last quarter and a half. How has your customer base changed in the last year? Is it more private oriented, are you guys still working with larger customers?

Stacy Locke

I think it went a little more towards private downs in here, they went a little more towards private I think in 09 and through the course of this year I think the pendulum is swinging back more to the publicly treated companies again the big shale programs.

Operator

(Operator Instructions) one moment please and our next question comes from the line of John Daniel with Simmons and Company. Please go ahead.

John Daniel - Simmons & Co.

Okay, two questions here, when we look at well servicing, one of the two big competitors are out there raising rates right now generally across the board, but one of them noted that an area where they hadn't seen the pricing momentum was in the Gulf Coast. And given that you guys are sort of the 100-pound gorilla there; can you give us your thoughts on pricing?

Stacy Locke

Well I would say that we think pricing is going to have an opportunity to come up its been a little tougher for us because we have already been higher than everybody else and I think and our utilization is in ours and everybody else so as others utilization has come up its helped put us in a position where we can start pushing our prices a little bit so I think they are in the third quarter where we will start to see several pricing improvements in Gulf Coast.

John Daniel - Simmons & Co.

But is it safe to say that subtle is select customers as opposed to across the board?

Lorne Phillips

I think we put some general pricing increases in the place some are those I would say.

John Daniel - Simmons & Co.

Okay, fair enough. And then turning to the drilling side, you mentioned that you've got four contracts pending. All else being equal, does that mean that we exit Q3 with 50 rigs working?

Stacy Locke

No three of the four rigs are already working because they are going from spot to term and there is only one incremental rig in that group. So that would be the forty seventh rigs.

John Daniel - Simmons & Co.

Okay, so then assuming nothing changes, you exit at 47 working.

Stacy Locke

Yes.

John Daniel - Simmons & Co.

A couple more if I may, just going back to well servicing, a bunch of these rig builders have brand new but unsold rigs in their yards. Given that you guys are essentially sold out, would you look at buying any of those and would you deviate and buy something besides, say, an NOV-designed rig?

Stacy Locke

Well we already have a contract in place, move national 5C that we anticipate we will take delivery out there in the course of 2011 its not too many so that’s our plan.

John Daniel - Simmons & Co.

Fair enough. Last one for me is, are you guys participating in the S.W. Jack auction this week? Did you pick up any of their assets in the Marcellus?

Stacy Locke

No we are familiar with it and we have looked at all of it and Red has been monitoring it on a daily basis but no.

Operator

Thank you our next question comes from the like of John Keller with Stephens. Please go ahead.

John Keller - Stephens

Yes, hey guys, thank you. You know, most of the questions have been answered already, but I have a question. You have a pretty favorable outlook going through the back half of the year and into 2011. And given the favorable pricing and utilization trends and in particular what's going on in the Production Services side, is it unreasonable to think that you could be EPS-positive in 2011?

Stacy Locke

I think there is a chance that we will may be not for the entire year but in some of the later quarters we just don’t know we don’t have that much visibility what would really help is that gas prices strengthen and then we can get some of these other mechanical rigs that contribute like they did in 08 and 07 I mean that would just totally change the world for us because these rigs all these mechanical rigs are really performed well in 06, 07, 08 as we brought our whole average margin of our entire fleet and that’s without any top drives and a lot less pumps in skidding and walking we had margins close to 10,000 a day and even those mechanical rigs we're at these huge margins so a robust gas price strip would really help although we just can count on it and so that is what I have just said is assuming that doesn’t happen there is a chance in the latter part of next year we will be positive but that will depend on how these day rates continue to move and then also how quickly we might execute on couple few new goal projects you know we pulled the trigger on some rigs earlier in the year where they are starting to contribute by the second half by the wells quite a bit too.

John Keller - Stephens

Got it, thanks. And I'm just kind of curious in terms of growth initiatives, like you mentioned new builds, and I've heard out there there's some smaller privates with decent rig fleets being shopped right now. I mean what are your limitations, or what are you willing to consider in terms of fleet expansion and your balance sheets?

Stacy Locke

Well we are probably aware of and looked at every deal out there but the in the shale economy that we now all live in the most competitive rigs are the newest most modern and efficient rigs.

And so our orientation is to you know we have done our upgrading that is pretty much behind us to build new modern efficient rigs and lock them down with multi year term contracts at big margins.

I think that’s what makes the most sense for us we see a lot of opportunity in the US to do that and then we think we will see a lot of opportunities to do the same in the international markets as our financial condition improves.

We think that’s a better use of capital because we know what we can do with those and buying some of these older rigs you could put them to work right away in this good market that we have but you are still buying some of yesterdays technology.

Operator

Thank you ladies and gentlemen (Operator Instructions) and at this time there are no further questions. I would like to turn the call back over to Mr. Locke. Please go ahead.

Stacy Locke

Great well thank you very much for participating in our second quarter call and we will look forward to visiting in about 90 days. Appreciate it.

Operator

Thank you ladies and gentlemen this concludes the Pioneer Drilling second quarter earnings conference call you may now disconnect thank you for using ACT conferencing.

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