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Superior Energy Services (NYSE:SPN)

Q2 2014 Earnings Call

July 31, 2014 11:00 am ET

Executives

Greg A. Rosenstein - Executive Vice President of Corporate Development and Corporate Secretary

David D. Dunlap - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Robert S. Taylor - Chief Financial Officer, Principal Accounting Officer, Executive Vice President and Treasurer

Analysts

James Knowlton Wicklund - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

J. Marshall Adkins - Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division

James D. Crandell - Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division

Stephen D. Gengaro - Sterne Agee & Leach Inc., Research Division

Jason Bandel - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Daniel J. Burke - Johnson Rice & Company, L.L.C., Research Division

Operator

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Superior Energy Services Second Quarter Earnings Call. [Operator Instructions] This conference is being recorded. I would now like to turn the call over to Mr. Greg Rosenstein. Please go ahead, sir.

Greg A. Rosenstein

All right. Good morning, and thank you for joining today's conference call. And joining me today are Superior's President and CEO, David Dunlap; and Chief Financial Officer, Robert Taylor.

Let me remind everyone that during this conference call, management may make forward-looking statements regarding future expectations about the company's business, management's plans for future operations or similar matters.

The company's actual results could differ materially due to several important factors, including those described in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

During this call, management will refer to non-GAAP financial measures. In accordance with Regulation G, the company provides a reconciliation of these measures on its website.

With that, I'll now turn the call over to Dave Dunlap.

David D. Dunlap

Good morning. Yesterday, after the close of market, we reported quarterly revenue of $1.1 billion, EBITDA of $310 million and net income from continuing operations of $79.1 million or $0.50 per diluted share.

Our results were better than we anticipated primarily due to higher margins in the U.S. land market, from the Onshore Completion and Workover Services segment and the Production Services segment, much of which were driven by a combination of better utilization, improved cost efficiencies and moderate price improvement. Robert will discuss some of the efficiency improvements shortly.

From a revenue perspective, our U.S. land revenue increased 6%. We experienced sequential revenue increases of 5% to 8% in each of the following U.S. land service lines: hydraulic fracturing, well service rigs, coiled tubing and cased hole wireline. As we expected, the increase in horizontal rig count that we have witnessed in the first half of 2014 has resulted in an uplift in utilization for all of our product lines involved in the completion supply chain.

We also had a 21% increase in U.S. land revenue from the Drilling Products and Services segment as rentals of premium drill pipe and bottom hole assemblies increased in several basins. High incremental margins also reflect a full quarter of cost reduction and restructuring efforts that took place in the fourth quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014

Our Gulf of Mexico performance was flat relative to Q1 of 2014. Seasonal increases in service work were more than offset by a 9% decline in Drilling Products and Services as product mix in the second quarter was more oriented to drilling-related rentals and completions. We anticipate a more balanced product mix returning during the third quarter.

International revenue was 3% higher than Q1 with the largest increase coming from the Production Services segment. We saw increases in snubbing in Africa and Australia and well testing and wireline increasing in Argentina.

I think our second quarter results provide a solid base from which to expand during the second half of the year. I will discuss this further after Robert walks you through some of the financial data. With that, I'll turn the call over to our Chief Financial Officer, Robert Taylor.

Robert S. Taylor

Thank you, Dave. As we go through each segment, I will make comparisons to the first quarter of 2014.

In the Drilling Products and Services segment, revenue was $226 million and income from operations was $67 million, which represents a 3% sequential increase in revenue and no change in operating income.

U.S. land revenue increased 21% to $81 million. We experienced high levels of downhole tool rentals, including premium drill pipes and bottomhole assemblies. International revenue increased slightly to about $52 million primarily due to increased rentals of premium drill pipes in the North Sea.

Gulf of Mexico revenue from this segment was $93 million, which was 9% lower than the first quarter. As Dave mentioned, we had some high-margin deepwater completion work that did not repeat in the second quarter. This, along with changes in business mix, were the primary causes for the flat operating margin in this segment despite the 3% increase in revenue.

In the Onshore Completion and Workover Services segment, revenue was up 2% at $398 million, and income from operations was significantly higher in Q1 to $32 million. The operating margin significantly improved for 4 reasons. First, cost efficiencies associated with activating a pressure pumping fleet during Q1 improved in the second quarter. Second, fuel costs as a percentage of pressure pumping revenue were lower in the second quarter due to warmer weather. As you may recall, last quarter, we had excessive fuel costs due to extremely cold weather. Third, we had a $3.8 million gain on sales for snubbing equipment, which served to lower G&A. Fourth, we did see higher utilization for pressure pumping and well service rigs.

Production Services segment revenue increased 7% to $344 million, while operating income increased to $27 million. This segment is benefiting from lower costs due in part to the cost cutting and restructuring that took place in Q4 2013 and the first quarter of 2014. We also experienced higher coiled tubing revenue in areas such as the Marcellus and Mid-Cont region, as well as increased pressure control activity in U.S. land markets and higher wireline activity in the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, U.S. land revenue in this segment increased 6% to $215 million, while the Gulf of Mexico revenue increased 11% to $38 million and international revenue was up 8% to $91 million primarily due to increases in hydraulic, workover and snubbing services.

Technical -- in the Technical Solutions segment, revenue was $140 million, which represents a 7% increase from the first quarter. Income from operations of $23 million was 72% higher than Q1. Gulf of Mexico revenue increased 70% -- 7% to $81 million primarily due to seasonal increases in plug and abandonment, and completion tools and services. U.S. land revenue increased 24% to $27 million primarily related to sales of completion tools and well control services. International revenue was 4% lower at $32 million due to a decrease in the number of well control projects completed during the quarter, partially offset by an increase in sales of completion tools in Indonesia.

Turning to the balance sheet. At the end of the second quarter, our debt was just under $1.7 billion. Debt-to-EBITDA at the end of the quarter was 1.5x and debt-to-total capital was 28.5%.

For the quarter, the company generated over $83 million of free cash flow. In the second quarter, we spent $34.3 million on share repurchases. Year-to-date, we have repurchased 5.2 million shares for a total consideration of $164.1 million for an average price of $31.41 per share. For the third quarter, we think the weighted average share count should be approximately 158.7 million shares. This incorporates our share repurchases to date.

Capital additions during the second quarter were about $138 million. We still anticipate capital spending for the year to be in a range of $600 million to $650 million.

From a modeling perspective in the third quarter, we think you should model G&A in a range of $154 million to $157 million. In the second quarter, our G&A was below prior guidance as a result of approximately $6.8 million of net positive adjustments that we do not expect to repeat. This resulted in a positive impact to earnings per share in the second quarter of approximately $0.03.

With respect to the DD&A, we think you should model a range of $167 million to $170 million.

We anticipate net interest expense to be in a range of $24 million to $26 million.

I'll now turn the call back over to Dave, who will discuss our outlook.

David D. Dunlap

Thank you, Robert. We anticipated an inflection point in our U.S. land activity during the second quarter, and that is certainly what we realized. Many of the horizontal rigs which have entered the market since the start of this year are still on the up slope of the efficiency curve. And if no other rigs were added to the market, I think that we would continue to see utilization increases during the second half of the year. That being said, we do expect additional rigs to enter the market during Q3. So the combination of increased efficiency as well as higher activity will continue to drive revenue increases in our completions-related businesses.

Tightness in the market, particularly in the Permian Basin, is resulting in moderate price improvement opportunities, and we experienced price improvement in fracturing during the second quarter. Increases in rig count, stage count and profit volumes per well are putting strain on the profit supply chain. As we gain certainty that incremental sand volumes will be available to our business, we will activate idle frac capacity, and I am confident that we will activate one additional frac fleet before the end of this year.

Outside of the U.S. land business, our Gulf of Mexico business is progressing as planned, and we still anticipate high-single-digit year-over-year growth in the gulf. Expansion of our drilling products and services and production services in the international markets is also progressing. We've now shipped coiled tubing and drill pipe capacity to Argentina and anticipate further transfers of idle coiled tubing units from the U.S. and other international markets before year end. We are seeing strong activity from our snubbing and rental tool expansion in West Africa and are gaining traction in Asia with production and completion services.

As excited as I am about the long-term expansion of Superior in the international markets, I know that the real story today is a recovery in U.S. business. Our margin improvement in the second quarter is indicative of cost discipline, higher utilization and moderately improved price. I think that you can expect to see additional top line growth over the next several quarters with margins that are at least consistent with what we delivered in the second quarter.

We have created an exceptionally strong position in the U.S. market, evidenced by quality execution in the field, an efficient cost structure and exposure in the right basins. Our operating leverage, which has been undervalued since the 2012 acquisition of Complete and continues to be undervalued, is the most significant near-term value creation opportunity for Superior and our shareholders. Our belief is that you will continue to see that operating leverage on display with earnings growth as the oil markets continue to evolve in the U.S.

That concludes our prepared remarks. We'll open the phone line to questions now.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our first question is from Jim Wicklund from Crédit Suisse.

James Knowlton Wicklund - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

A quarter -- exceptional quarter, though. Pressure pumping clearly is as strong or stronger than everybody else has mentioned. You talked about -- I guess you basically said that if you thought you can get proppant, you would put more crews to work. Is that true? And are you guys considering doing what everybody else seems to be doing, which is adding additional horsepower?

David D. Dunlap

Well, we're not -- I'm not announcing today that we're adding horsepower, Jim. We still got idle capacity that we want to put to work before we begin to place orders for new horsepower. But on the sand supply, sand supply is tight. And we've had bottlenecks on the rail since about April, I guess, and saw some of these bottlenecks in April and May. I can't say that there were huge disruptions to our fracturing business as a result of that, but clearly there were bottlenecks and there seemed to be bottlenecks at the mines now. So I think sand will continue to be an important impact factor in the way capacity gets deployed. As I said in our prepared remarks, we feel confident we're going to be able to secure sand capacity to add at least one additional fleet before the end of this year.

James Knowlton Wicklund - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Okay, David. And then my follow-up, you've got a barge rig for sale, and you've got Hallin Marine for sale and you're not ready to start adding pressure pumping capacity just yet. Hypothetically, what do you do with the proceeds?

David D. Dunlap

Yes. So we continue to buy back shares and continue to pay dividends.

James Knowlton Wicklund - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Good. Good uses of cash. Okay.

David D. Dunlap

Well, also, Jim, just to finish that commentary, we continue to look for tuck-in international acquisitions, which have been very additive for us. And those are -- or tend to be relatively small deals, but we continue to look for those strategic plays.

Operator

Our next question is from Marshall Adkins from Raymond James.

J. Marshall Adkins - Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division

The Gulf of Mexico on the Drilling Production Services side was obviously light this quarter. It sounds like in your guidance that, that was kind of a short-term deal, that you expect that to rebound nicely in the back half. Is that -- am I reading that right? Or could you give us a little more color on that?

David D. Dunlap

Yes, you're reading it right. I mean, if you look at performance in that group historically, and I know for the -- listen, since Macondo, the -- all we've seen some Drilling Products and Services is just to continue increases with the -- as we've seen deepwater rigs come in and utilization. So maybe kind of historically over the last 8 quarters, it may not be easy to follow this. But in that business, product mix does matter. And when we have rigs which are more weighted to the completion cycle, you'll see our earnings in Drilling Products and Services be on the high side. When we're more weighted to the drilling side, they'll be a bit lower, and our margin tends to be a bit more leveraged to completion. So we do expect that we're going to see kind of a return to a normal product mix for the rest of this year.

J. Marshall Adkins - Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division

Okay. I know you've caught a little heat on the timing of your Complete acquisition, but it seems to be paying off in spades now. My question on that end of the business is, historically Complete didn't have the sand infrastructure capacity that a lot of other companies did, and my sense is that's probably one of the limiting constraints here. Is that fair? And are you -- does that mean that you build out more sand delivery capacity? Or am I just missing that totally?

David D. Dunlap

Well, I mean, I think different companies handle their supply chain for sand in different ways. Remember that a lot of the sand that we pump is actually supplied by customers. And so in that case, we're really not involved in the supply chain. Now I'll say this. We do have to have confidence that our customers that are supplying sand are going to be able to get it in order for us to feel good about activating new fleets for them. But nonetheless, it puts us in a little bit different position in the supply chain. You're right that we don't own all of our sand infrastructure. We've got a captive relationship that has been an extremely reliable supplier for us and I'm sure will be as we forward.

J. Marshall Adkins - Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division

So no plans to build out more capacity internally to handle this just to kind of leverage off what you have existing?

David D. Dunlap

Well, it's something that we think about, Marshall.

Operator

Our next question is from Jim Crandell from Cowen.

James D. Crandell - Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division

Dave, on -- you mentioned in your prepared remarks about you are now starting to see some pricing in the frac business. Can you make -- can you comment on whether that is broad based by region or in particular areas? And can you comment on whether that more or less offsets cost? Or are you seeing real price increases?

David D. Dunlap

I think we saw some of the price drop to the bottom line in the second quarter. And we produced very strong incremental margin, and that's clearly one of the contributors. As well as cost control, I think they contribute to that. I don't know that I'd characterize it as across all the basins at this point, Jim. We suspected that our first opportunities for price improvement would be in the Permian, and I think that, that's accurate. But the tug that the Permian Basin is having on the overall completion supply chain is having this as well as at adjacent regions. So we've seen capacity that pulled out of South Texas into the Permian. We've seen some capacity that's been pulled out of the Mid-Continent and Panhandle into the Permian. And of course, what that means is the resulting capacity in those regions tends to get a little bit tighter. So it's mainly driven by the Permian at this point.

James D. Crandell - Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division

Okay. And just as a really follow-up, I know you said in the past that you would not, I think, put your idle frac fleets to work unless you had, a, a term contract; and, b, it was at some kind of a premium to spot prices. So I guess the one that you feel really good about is, is that in fact the case? And then secondly, just to ask again about the sand infrastructure capacity, is that a factor that is limiting your ability to win term -- you have your term contracts out there. But because of sand infrastructure capacity, you essentially can't bid on them or can't do the work?

David D. Dunlap

Yes, so first off, I don't know we've said we'd only activate fleets for term contracts. What -- now what we need to have in order to activate a fleet, as we had in the first quarter of this year and believe we'll have as -- before the end of this year, are strong commitments from customers, which are going to drive high utilization. Whether that's in the form of a term contract or a long-term commitment, it doesn't really matter. We just got to have a confidence level that the customers are going to be able to drive a high stage count and pump a lot of sand per well. So that's the primary factor. As for sand supply, you have to pay attention to sand supply. I mean, it doesn't do a whole lot of good to reactivate or build a new frac fleet if you're not going to be able to put your hands on the sand that you need to put through, right? So it's -- I wouldn't say it's a limiting factor for us. It's just something you've got to understand before you activate equipment.

Operator

Our next question is from Stephen Gengaro from Sterne Agee.

Stephen D. Gengaro - Sterne Agee & Leach Inc., Research Division

I guess I'll start -- when you look at the -- you mentioned kind of your growth expectations in the Gulf of Mexico. We see sort of what's going on with the U.S. land activity in general. How are you thinking about SPN's land growth this year in the U.S.?

David D. Dunlap

Well, listen, Steve, our -- what we've said about U.S. -- about the U.S. land market, I think, continues to be true. It's going to be driven by horizontal rig count. I mean, what we saw in an inflection point in second quarter in our U.S. land activity was a result of horizontal rigs which have been added to the U.S. land market in -- late in the fourth quarter of '13, first quarter of '14 and then the second quarter as well. So watch that horizontal rig count. It's the best barometer. Certainly, we see some utilization uplift as operators in primarily the Permian Basin become more efficient as horizontal well operators. But the primary thing to watch is horizontal rig count. So part of what gives me confidence going forward about growth opportunity is that we continue to hear from the drilling contractors that they are building rigs and the rigs have a commitment behind them. And so as you see those rigs flow in the marketplace, that is our best opportunity long term for continued growth in our U.S. land business.

Stephen D. Gengaro - Sterne Agee & Leach Inc., Research Division

And then as a follow-up, when we think about the incremental margins on the North American side, any change in -- I'm going to use a sort of a roughly 25% to 30% range but, a, do you think that's realistic? And any change to that as you start to get some activity growth and maybe a bit of pricing?

David D. Dunlap

I think pricing aside, as you think about utilization or as utilization increases and top line grows, I mean, I expect incremental margins that are kind of in the 30% to 35% range. And I think that's what we'll see absent price improvement. Price improvement, of course, is going to drive that number higher. I don't know -- the hard call for us to make, the hard call for you to make is look at, well, how much this price moves between now and the end of the year, and I don't know that we're ready to quantify that for you. But I do think that there's an upward bias to price. I personally think the best way to think about this for at least the third quarter is to consider that any price improvement we see out there just offsets inflationary costs.

Stephen D. Gengaro - Sterne Agee & Leach Inc., Research Division

Great. If I could just slip one quick one in. With -- x Hallin Marine, how will that change your fourth quarter seasonality?

David D. Dunlap

It -- the -- it changes some. Hallin Marine provided negative seasonal influence for us in the fourth quarter and the first quarter, probably more predominant in the fourth -- in the first quarter of any year than the fourth quarter. But it definitely changes the seasonality. We still have Gulf of Mexico seasonality in our Production Services businesses and in the plug and abandonment business.

Operator

Our next question is from Jason Bandel from Deutsche Bank.

Jason Bandel - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

First question I had was with fluid management. And coming back to kind of your Q1 guidance with that, I think you were looking more for a -- for flat revenues sequentially. I guess figuring there were lots of heating revenue, it would hopefully be offset by a pickup in rig count and wire activity with that. I'm assuming, based on the levels of increase in revenue for the other products in that service line you gave in your prepared remarks, that it probably came in a little bit lower than that. So how should we think about the fluid market kind of going forward in the second half?

David D. Dunlap

Revenues were relatively flat in the fluids management business from Q1 to Q2. And we did lose heating revenue, and that comes with high margin. It's not that the margin has collapsed in that business by any means. I've been very pleased, though, with the way the fluids management business has performed. And I know that not every one of our competitors is saying the same thing, but this is about geographic positioning and our geographic strength in the fluids management business is really in the Rockies, where we've got a very strong market position, and in Mid-Continent. And so, those areas have been -- continue to be the biggest revenue contribution in that fluid management business, and its performance has been fairly stable.

Jason Bandel - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Okay. And an unrelated follow-up for me. I know you have a couple of pumping contracts here or there scheduled to roll over in the second half. Any indications so far of what your customers are going to do with those contracts and what kind of impact that can have on your margins?

David D. Dunlap

Well, these are -- we provided a very good history of our contracts at our Investor Day last year, and what you see in that history is you see that those were not new contracts last year. Most of those have been contracts which have renewed 3 and 4 and sometimes 5 times. Our expectation is that those long-term relationships would continue and would continue under some type of a term contract. So, I mean, we do have some that begin to expire late in the third quarter and in the fourth quarter, and our expectation is that those would roll over.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our next question is from Daniel Burke from Johnson Rice.

Daniel J. Burke - Johnson Rice & Company, L.L.C., Research Division

Dave, I was trying to true-up your comments on expected incrementals in the U.S. market with the comment that margins will remain at least consistent with those delivered in Q2. It seems to me in C&W, the Completion and Workover business, and Production Services you benefited from some lower E&A and G&A in the second quarter. Is that a reason -- is that a reason why the margin guidance you provided wasn't a little bit more definitive for Q3?

David D. Dunlap

I don't know if it's a reason why. I mean, I think that part of my language there, Daniel, is that I did mention that our margins were impacted in certain of the businesses during the second quarter by price. And really, what I want you to think about is top line growth in the third quarter and the incremental margins that would be consistent with higher utilization levels as opposed to price because it's kind of hard to call today whether or not there is going to be an incremental price improvement activity in the third quarter. Did that answer your question?

Daniel J. Burke - Johnson Rice & Company, L.L.C., Research Division

Yes, that was helpful. You steered my eyes further up the P&L. I guess I'll try to pin you to one other one then. I mean, is another quarter of mid-single-digit advance in U.S. land practical given your underutilized capacity, as you alluded to earlier?

David D. Dunlap

Without question.

Daniel J. Burke - Johnson Rice & Company, L.L.C., Research Division

Okay. Okay. That's helpful. And maybe then a last one. To switch gears, you ran through a litany of international start-ups. But I don't know if I heard -- I heard for the Gulf of Mexico, but any update on just your thinking on where international revenue trends end up '14 versus '13?

David D. Dunlap

Yes, I don't know. I mean, our target every year is around 15%. We may struggle to get to that this year. It may be a bit lower than that, and it's primarily driven by the fact that Brazil, which has really been a target area for us for expansion for the last several years, has kind of leveled out between '13 and '14 where we would have probably predicted more growth. Outside of Brazil, our target countries have been expanding quite nicely from a revenue and margin standpoint during the course of the year. And I think what we would like to do, and maybe I'll be in a position to talk about this next quarter, we'd like to put our stake in the ground in a new spot sometime very soon. It's most likely to be in Asia, but there's other opportunities that we're working on as well in Latin America and the Middle East. So as we've talked about in the past, our international expansion is very much a rifle shot. We're choosing countries where we believe we've got the best opportunity at the least risk. And so we'll continue down that path.

Daniel J. Burke - Johnson Rice & Company, L.L.C., Research Division

Okay. I'll just ask one more. And that's, should we assume then that you are looking at an M&A opportunity or 2 in the Far East?

David D. Dunlap

We're -- it's a safe assumption that we are always looking at an M&A opportunity or 2 in Asia, Middle East or Latin America.

Operator

And next, we'll take a follow-up question from Jim Wicklund from Crédit Suisse.

James Knowlton Wicklund - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

It's me again, guys. NOV announced on their call that coiled tubing, especially larger diameter, were seeing a pickup in activity. You mentioned coiled tubing. Can you talk about -- and coiled tubing is typically thought of more with gas than oil, but it's an advanced system. Can you give us an update on coiled tubing in -- both in the U.S. and the Mexico markets?

David D. Dunlap

Yes, certainly. Mike, well, let me start with Mexico. It's the easy one. Mexico coiled tubing is flat from where it has been for the last 3 or 4 quarters. Most of that activity is in Southern Mexico. Where we're working under a contract. And of course, Northern Mexico still is to be -- still can -- is at depressed levels, which have existed since the first quarter of 2013. In the U.S., I know -- I understand your comment that coiled tubing tends to get a little bit more levered to gas, but it is also levered to oil. It's levered to a horizontal rig count. And so the horizontal rig count increase is dragging up coiled tubing utilization on -- from an oil standpoint as well. So, I mean, that is certainly helpful. Well, we continue to have idle coiled tubing units in the U.S., which we consolidated late last year, second half of last year. Those coiled tubing units are available for international transfer, and it's still our intention to look for international markets to place those coiled tubing units. We've shipped a couple of them now down to Latin America, and I think there'll probably be a couple more that gets shipped out before the end of this year.

Operator

And there are no further questions at this time. I would like to turn the floor back over to management.

David D. Dunlap

Well, thanks for your attention to our call today, and we'll talk to you next quarter.

Operator

This does conclude today's program. You may now disconnect, and have a wonderful day.

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