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Erickson, Inc (NASDAQ:EAC)

Q2 2014 Earnings Conference Call

August 7, 2014 16:30 ET

Executives

Zach Cotner - Director, Financial Planning & Analysis

Udo Rieder - President & CEO

Eric Struik - CFO

Analysts

Yair Reiner - Oppenheimer

JB Groh - D.A. Davidson

Ken Herbert - Canaccord

Hamed Khorsand - BWS Financial

Ross Licero - Craig-Hallum Capital Group

Operator

Welcome to the Erickson Incorporated Second Quarter 2014 Earnings Conference Call. (Operator Instructions). Now I would like to turn the conference over to Zach Cotner, Director of Financial Planning and Analysis. You may begin.

Zach Cotner

Thank you, operator, and good afternoon, everyone. Before we begin prepared remarks today, I would just like to remind you of the company’s Safe Harbor language. Information discussed during this conference call might be forward-looking in nature and is subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from our current expectations. To understand the factors that could cause results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements, please refer to our latest Annual Report on Form 10K and reports subsequently filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In addition to financial results presented on a GAAP basis today, the company will also be discussing non-GAAP information that it believes to be useful in evaluating the company’s operating performance. Reconciliations of these non-GAAP financial measures to the closest GAAP equivalent can be found in the company’s earnings press release that was released this afternoon and was also filed with the SEC under Form 8-K. A replay of this call can be accessed by telephonically or through the webcast on the company’s website and the replay instructions were included in the company’s earnings press release this afternoon. Thank you for your attention to those items.

And this time, I’d now like to turn the call over to Udo Rieder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Erickson.

Udo Rieder

Okay. Thanks Zach and good afternoon everyone. Thank you all for joining us today. So as you’ve seen from our announcement we have had a challenging second quarter so let me begin with a couple of issues that affected the legacy Aircrane business and add a bit of color around that. First there was a lingering impact on spot construction contracts and the poor weather in the first quarter which caused timing delays and a significant portion of our expected spot construction work some of which could not be recovered on a cost effective basis. A portion of this delayed work became available as the season progressed and some may come back later in the year. While we ran into a need to ensure air craft availability for the U.S. fire season and commitments that we have in the third quarter.

Since our third quarter is essentially sold out we had to leave some of this business on the table which does carry a very high margin. Second our fire season had a slower than anticipated start. To contrary to what you maybe hearing in the news recently according to the U.S. Forestry Service that the fire season in North America is readying at a 10 year low for both the number of fires as well as the total acres burned. This was also a significant headwind to our results in the second quarter and may have some effect on the third quarter which is reflected in our lowered guidance.

On a more positive note we continue to be excited about the strategic progress that we’re making in South America where our mix fleet offering is being well received by our customer base and is allowing us to capture new business in that market. We are focused on new long term contracts that can help reduce seasonality as well as variability. These are year around constant work contracts, Hunt Oil and PLUSPETROL are the two that we previously announced. In the second quarter however we have experienced delays in the commencement of these contracts and consequently our second quarter number reflect startup costs associated with these new customers without the full benefit of the revenue streams that we will now begin to see.

We’re in the final stages of negotiating more contracts that should close shortly and we expect to complete a new Rosneft HRT contract in Brazil. The timing issues in South America are temporary and we believe the full benefit of our strategic initiative will become increasingly clear as the year progresses. Our acquisition of Evergreen Helicopters performed about as we expected in the quarter. However over the course of the quarter we saw a number of contracts partially descoped including our sub-contract with DynCorp in the Philippines and the Transcom (indiscernible) contract.

In other cases we have seen competition intensified to the point where new contract seize to be economic. So we believe that we will get through these transitional issues and position the company for a much better result in 2015. The level of new DoD and other government contract RFP activity we have seen during the past quarters is very strong and provides us with the confidence around the future revenue stream. In fact we have almost all our idle, medium and light helicopters included in responses to these RFPs.

We expect to have a stronger mix of oil and gas contracts and by mid-year we will begin to offset much of the pressure we’re currently seeing in our government and in our defense business. We also continue to make gains in our MRO business and continue to develop capabilities across a number of lacy aircraft types.

But it's obviously too early to provide guidance for 2015, we believe we’re in a short window of transition before we will see sustainable improved results. As we execute on our plan throughout this year and into 2015 we will have more balanced business by end market which will help reduce volatility. Ideally given the different and independent drivers for each market if we can get roughly equal contributions from defense, oil and gas, fire frightening and then the other commercial markets that we compete. We will enable much greater degree of stability in our business and financial results.

We feel very good about the level of capabilities, the effectiveness and the safety of our operations and with the new degree of scale about a compelling opportunities to stream line the business. That same scale combined with our operational footprint and our mixed fleet positions us for wide range of very capable and comprehensive partner for wide range of aviation services customers around the world.

Thank you all for your attention. Now I will turn it over to Eric.

Eric Struik

Thank you Udo. Good afternoon to everyone. I would like to provide some details on our second quarter financial performance. We reported net revenue of 80.9 million for the quarter, this was an increase of 17.9% compared to the prior year second quarter driven by three months compared to two months of EHI business contribution and the Air Amazonia contribution which did not contribute to the year ago period. Our government segment reported revenues of 54.3 million, an increase of 23.9% as compared to revenues of 43.9 million in the prior year period.

This was comprised of defense and security revenue of 41.4 million versus 28.8 million last year driven by the extra month of Evergreen. Firefighting revenue at 11.4 million versus 10.9 million last year reflecting the new contract in Turkey offset by lower flight hours in the U.S.

Through June our U.S. Forestry Service flight hours were only 1/3rd of the five year average. Transport and other government revenue was 1.5 million compared to 4.2 million last year reflecting the impact of the reduction including work for the Italian Forestry Service.

Our commercial segment reported revenues of 26.6 million, an increase of 7.7% compared to 24.7 million last year. Timber harvesting revenue was 7.6 million compared to 11.3 million in the prior year driven by a decline in flight hours in Canada as well as the impacts of the closure of our Malaysian operation. As a result the Aircrane that had been servicing logging customers in Malaysia and been moved to a more profitable contracts in North America.

Infrastructure construction including oil and gas contributed revenue of 15.6 million compared to 12.1 million last year, driven by the 5.8 million revenue contribution from Air Amazonia. This increase was offset by a reduction in North American and European spot construction and a slower than anticipated startup of new oil and gas contracts.

Manufacturing MRO had 2.3 million in revenue for the quarter compared to 1.4 million in the prior year. You will also notice that we booked 1.1 million of revenue related to the sale of an aircraft by our Erickson Trade Group out of the EHI fleet. This function is chartered with securing aircraft for new business as well as selling idle aircraft and inventory. We anticipate this group will have a meaningful contribution to our business this year.

Second quarter operating expenses were 31.2 million including a 21.3 million non-cash charge for goodwill impairment and 0.6 million of integration related expenses. During the quarter we performed our annual impairment review of EHI which is considered a reporting unit for purchases of that analysis. The outcome of the impairment review as a reduction in the fair value of our Evergreen goodwill from 231.6 million to 210.3 million resulting in the 21.3 million non-cash impairment charge.

The primary driver for this reduction is a recent acceleration of the decrease in operational tempo on the DoD business as compared to our previous estimates. Excluding the non-cash impairment charge and the integration and acquisition expenses adjusted operating expense was 9.3 million as compared to 8.6 million in the year ago quarter. The increase was due to the impact of the acquisitions for the full quarter and additional spending in sales and marketing and legal expense. Adjusted operating income in the quarter was 4.6 million compared to an adjusted operating income of 8.9 million in the prior year.

The decline was largely the result of lower contribution from the aircrane fleet. Other expenses in the quarter were 10 million compared to 7.7 million last year. This was comprised primarily of 9.1 million in interest on outstanding borrowings and 0.6 million in the amortized cost of debt issuance.

The increase reflects the timing of the acquisitions in the prior year. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was 13.8 million compared to 17.2 million in last year’s second quarter, adjusted EBITDAR excluding aircraft lease expenses was 19 million in the second quarter compared to 20.5 million in last year’s second quarter and adjusted EPS excluding goodwill impairment, acquisition, integration and other costs were a loss of $0.27 for the second quarter compared to adjusted EPS of $0.04 in the prior year second quarter.

On a positive note I’m pleased to report that we have delivered over 6 million in integration cost savings through June and expect to exceed our original 7 million synergy target by year-end. In addition as a result of the recent headwinds we have implemented targeted structural reductions across the business. We’re committed to aligning our cost structure with our top line to maximize the profitability of our assets.

Now I would like to provide some second quarter pro forma information. Our pro forma revenues in the prior year second quarter which excludes Air Amazonia were 84.3 million. The former Evergreen business reported 44.7 million in revenues this year compared to 45.6 million in the prior year second quarter. The 0.9 million revenue decline is explained our lower activity in Afghanistan offset by the benefit of lower loss revenue or penalties.

Our legacy aircrane business generated revenue of 30.3 million this year as compared to 38.7 million in last year’s second quarter. The 8.4 million revenue decline was primarily in construction and timber harvesting, the reduction in incurring revenues under the Italian contract and delayed starts in our new oil and gas contracts.

Our second quarter pro forma adjusted EBITDA was 19.2 million compared to adjusted EBITDA of 13.8 million this year. So relating to the first quarter I would like to point out that due to the high fixed cost nature of the aircrane business the 8.4 million reduction in aircrane revenue incurred a high contribution margin and drove the majority of the year-over-year decline in pro forma adjusted EBITDA.

Turning to our second quarter balance sheet, we had a total debt of 473.8 million including a 102.1 million drawn on our revolver, 350 million in senior notes and 16.7 million in subordinated debt as of June 30.

In order to improve liquidity we completed the sale leaseback on one of our aircrane’s during the quarter for 24.7 million. We used the proceeds to pay down a portion of the revolver as well as complete an attractive early buyout of one of the legacy Evergreen aircraft that will result in lease expense savings going forward. I would note that the book value of aircraft was 12.2 million and this transaction demonstrates that the market value of the aircraft fleet far exceeds the book value.

The resulting gain on sale will be amortized over the term of the lease and combined with the decreased revolver interest expense will result in a net neutral P&L impact.

I would now like to cover our updated 2014 financial guidance. We have reduced our full year outlook largely as a result from the softer than expected second quarter and partially due to recent high anticipated pressures across our DoD business. We now anticipate 2014 revenue to be between 350 million and 370 million, adjusted EBITDA to be in the range of $85 million to $95 million, adjusted EBITDAR to be between $106 million to $116 million, and full year adjusted earnings per share in the range of $0.35 to $0.75.

We continue to expect strengthening in our business as we put ourselves through the peak seasonal third quarter. This includes expected new contract activity in the fourth quarter in oil and gas and DoD. These expected wins and other anticipated successes in certain defense tender should begin to offset the declines we’re experiencing at defense and security by 2014.

This concludes our prepared remarks. Thank you all for participating. Operator Udo and I are prepared to entertain questions at this point

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

(Operator Instructions). We will go first to Yair Reiner with Oppenheimer.

Yair Reiner - Oppenheimer

So a couple of questions to start, so in terms of the guidance for the year you said that it includes some contracts you expect to win on oil and gas and then defense. Can you give us a sense of how much of your guidance at this point is already covered by bookings you’ve and how much you still need to go out and win?

Udo Rieder

The majority of what we expect for this year is already booked and we do have as Eric mentioned several other contracts and work that will come later this year but given the timing of those -- the expected timing of those contracts being late in the year, the majority of what we are talking about in guidance here is already included under current contracts.

Eric Struik

I would add that if we win the contracts that we’re bidding on then we feel fairly confident enough, we could be at the higher end of the guidance potentially even a little bit above guidance and if we don’t win those we would be more on the lower end of guidance.

Yair Reiner - Oppenheimer

And Udo, when you say majority, are we talking 51% or closer to a 100%?

Udo Rieder

No closer to 100%, yes.

Yair Reiner - Oppenheimer

And then in terms of the Air Amazonia contract, I think that the contractual minimum is supposed to be 29 million annually, I believe with 5.8 million this quarter kind of where are you at the mid-point on the year and do you expect to achieve the contractual minimum in 2014?

Udo Rieder

Yes Yair, your numbers are right and we are doing well with the contract and we do absolutely expect to receive the contract in minimum this year.

Yair Reiner - Oppenheimer

Do you’ve any recourse if the pace continues to be below contracted levels through 2014?

Udo Rieder

Well we do for this first year of this contract. It's very clear what the expectations are contractually and yes there is absolutely recourse but I would also highlight, our relationship with Rosneft and HRT is very strong operationally. It's going very well and there is constantly a change and scope in these types of contracts, just depending on what phase of their oil drilling versus exploration versus extraction et cetera. So this is the normal course of our business but yes for this first year you have got it exactly right that it's contractually required and then we don’t expect any issues out of that.

Yair Reiner - Oppenheimer

In terms of cash flow can you talk about what the major puts and takes are for the balance of the year? And kind of given where we stand today, you know what do you expect the free cash flow number to look like for 2014? Thank you.

Udo Rieder

Yes, so we’re entering our peak cash flow periods and we expect both Q3 and Q4 to be cash flow positive and we expect the year-end number to be similar in terms of the revolver balances as we ended year-end ’13.

Yair Reiner - Oppenheimer

Got it. So basically free cash flow neutral for 2014 is what you’re expecting?

Udo Rieder

Including the benefit of the sale leaseback of the aircrane, so excluding the sale leaseback, we’re probably be burning 20 million or so in free cash flow.

Operator

Our next question will be from JB Groh with D.A. Davidson.

JB Groh - D.A. Davidson

Udo, could you talk about -- you mentioned a little bit about the penalties, any impact in the quarter on penalties and maybe discuss the trends that there are persisting there or if there has been any sort of inflection?

Udo Rieder

The penalty trend is going very well. We have been now at sustained levels for the past, actually since about January and we expect that to continue. Some of the reductions in DoD contracts is offsetting some of that benefit as well but in terms of the performance, yes absolutely it's there and they were celebrating success in that regard. It's also helping us in terms of as we enter into these new RFP programs having this performance improvement positions us very well as opposed to where we were one year ago with the company.

JB Groh - D.A. Davidson

And then on the sale of the aircraft, in terms of the book value of what you have available for sale, how many aircraft is it with the book value and kind of what’s your vision of the appraised value of those aircraft that you’re contemplating selling?

Udo Rieder

So the book value varies by aircraft but generally the aircrane’s tend to be in the similar range of the one that we recently sold in the low teens. And we don’t anticipate or have plans to sell another aircrane in the near future.

JB Groh - D.A. Davidson

I was talking about things within the EHI portfolio.

Udo Rieder

Okay, I’m sorry. So the EHI portfolio we have a number of assets that are available for sale with the trigger has on the market and they range from smaller aircrafts that may sell for a $1 million upto mediums that could be as high as 5 million or higher.

JB Groh - D.A. Davidson

In terms of value or in terms of the book value?

Udo Rieder

That’s in terms of the market value and the market value happens to be pretty close to the book value, because they were appraised when we completed the acquisition.

JB Groh - D.A. Davidson

And then Udo, maybe you could address fire, obviously the statistics kind of speak for themselves but I mean we have some pretty bad conditions in California. It seems like the South-East is in pretty good shape but the West looks pretty dry. I mean in terms of conditions, are we at a worse point than we normally would be at this point of the fire season or below average?

Udo Rieder

Yes so I mentioned it started slow and slower than we expected and quite frankly I think slower than the U.S. Forestry Service expected as well. They increased their budget as you may recall by about 400 million in anticipation of a strong season and so that was slow to start, however in July that started to change and now certainly for us and for I think everyone else in August it's completely turned and we’re now into a very active season. So we will see what happens in the coming months but we probably are today where they are expected to be a month or so ago.

JB Groh - D.A. Davidson

So for the first month and week of this quarter it's been back to more normal levels and pretty active, okay.

Operator

We will go next to Ken Herbert with Canaccord.

Ken Herbert - Canaccord

I just wondered if you could provide just a little more granularity on the changing guidance. I know you cited obviously some of the lost timber work and slowdown of tempo in Afghanistan in particular. Is the majority of the reduction and guidance driven by Afghanistan or how would you parse out that $0.60?

Udo Rieder

Yes, now some of what you referred to with timber for example is actually year-over-year. So with respect to guidance change it's driven by number one is going to be the firefighting that we talked about and then number two would be slow start in some of these new oil and gas contracts where we started -- it essentially costs in place but delayed implementation, delayed activity in terms of revenue. And then I those represent probably the majority. I mentioned spot work as well and some of that spot work shifted around but that had an impact and those combined as a majority and then as we went through this past quarter announcements of DoD that will affect us later this year had some impact as well. But that’s the sort of general order.

Ken Herbert - Canaccord

And then on those oil and gas contracts that are the slow to start, do you expect that by early ’15 you’re sort of caught up or back on plan or how does that look in terms of as those ramp from a timing standpoint and when do you think you’re able to catch up or be to where you think it would be back on plan?

Udo Rieder

Yes these are all long term contracts that we’re talking about and they are annual contracts and so they are all ramped up, they are generating revenue now and they are ramped and we have several more that we’re expecting here shortly as well. So essentially the delay is now behind us and we’re generating revenue and in the coming months again we expect to have several more.

Ken Herbert - Canaccord

So the revenue you’re generating now is essentially where you thought you would be was really just things were pushed to the right a little bit which is obviously resulting in the guidance change?

Udo Rieder

Yes that’s exactly it. So it effects disproportionately this year in the grand schemes of things you know when you’re talking about 3 and 5 year contracts it's exactly what it is, they shipped to the right [ph].

Ken Herbert - Canaccord

And then just finally I mean again on the firefighting, I know maybe softer than certainly you would expect or that anecdotally we would expect with what’s happening with just sort of with the weather and what seems like the fire season. Do you expect the third quarter; you say you’re fully booked how much of this do you perhaps make up in the third quarter? Is there any opportunity to maybe see upside relative to what you could have thought or is it fairly cautious here for the remainder of the year?

Udo Rieder

Yes so the majority of the revenue for firefighting as a refresher here is associated with our daily contracts and so when I talk about being fully sold out for the third quarter it's all of these contracts have now started and they are increased, they are in the Northern Hemisphere. They are in California, they are in the U.S. Forestry Service and all of that is very easy to predict and is in-place and easy to forecast. The incremental part that I’m referring to is really associated with the flying, the actual amount of flying where we get paid in addition to that daily rate, a variable amount for flying. And that’s the part that was slower to start and in third quarter you know we are -- we could very well exceed what was guided in the budget which what we typically do and have done here is use a five year average. And so that could very well happen and it's difficult though to predict or forecast whether or not or will.

Ken Herbert - Canaccord

And just finally the aircrane that you have -- it sounds like you’ve pulled out of the Philippines because of what you mentioned in the opening comments, has that been redeployed for firefighting or where has that been redeployed?

Udo Rieder

Yes it has been redeployed and the reason that of -- that’s actually out of in Malaysia instead of the Philippines but and it has been redeployed and we made that decision because there was softness in the market that we saw in Malaysia and thinking of it as a bit of treacherous [ph] because we have different equipment types and so that aircraft might replace an aircraft in North America that might end up doing construction and ultimately end up in South America doing oil and gas. But the thing we can say about it for sure the net result is of benefit in terms of revenue and profitability.

Operator

(Operator Instructions). We will go next to Hamed Khorsand with BWS Financial.

Hamed Khorsand - BWS Financial

Can you just start off as walking us through, from your aircrane business is that -- are you fully contracted that for Q3 fully sold out?

Udo Rieder

Yes when I refer to Q3 in terms of the being fully booked I’m referring to our 20 aircranes, exactly.

Hamed Khorsand - BWS Financial

Okay and then, so from the other the Air Amazonia and EHI, how much of that is sold out? And how much capacity do you have?

Udo Rieder

Yes we have about 52 aircraft that are on contract of the rest of the fleet that we have and then we have about 15 aircraft that are idle right now and the majority of those that are idle are actually part of the RFPs that we have responded to that I have mentioned earlier.

Hamed Khorsand - BWS Financial

Okay. All right and then -- so my question is that if you have so many on contract why are you still seeing at those pricing pressure in the market? Why haven't you being able to just be able to hold market really on the pricing?

Udo Rieder

Well we’re selective about which of these RFPs we pursue and how aggressively we pursue all of these and each one has their intricacies and so we will obviously want to pursue those that carry the greatest value, the greatest profitability and in that process you know one that’s the lower profitability or let’s say more competition, we may not elect to pursue it quite aggressively but it's all about maintaining the highest profit.

Hamed Khorsand - BWS Financial

And my last question is, you earlier said you had -- there were some delays about the Hunt Oil in South America contracts but you incurred some cost. Does that mean that the revenue you recognized in Q3 will have a higher margin?

Udo Rieder

Yes because it won't include that initial startup cost that we have already incurred, exactly.

Operator

We’re going next to Michael Malouf with Craig-Hallum Capital Group.

Ross Licero - Craig-Hallum Capital Group

Hi, this is Ross Licero on for Mike. Just one question about the oil and gas contract delays, could you give us a little bit more color on what’s causing that? Is it on your end trying to ramp up or is it on the customer end and is that sort of a foreshadowing of what’s going to happen with future contracts? (Multiple Speaker)

Udo Rieder

Yes what’s happening here Ross is -- there is a -- with this new fleet offering that we have that includes heavy lift aircranes as well as medium lift aircraft that let’s say were previously deployed in Afghanistan. There is a substantial amount of activity associated with moving these aircraft across borders into new countries and working with the lessors that we lease the aircraft from and in some cases especially with the medium and the light’s, we have never done this before. We’re obviously well versed in doing this with the cranes but these other aircraft carrier, their own intricacies and yes there is a substantial number of steps that include ITAR restrictions as well as crossing borders and deregistration and reregistration, airworthiness certificates, it's pages and pages of activity they have to take place and most of this activity is interdependent as well.

And so this is something again with the comprehensive fleet that makes it a bit more complicated than it has before. However we’re in arms around it and it's definitely a short term challenge that we have and we don’t anticipate that it will continue going forward and in fact the ones that we’re working on as we speak are really going well, so we think we do have arms around it.

Operator

We will go back to JB Groh with D.A. Davidson.

JB Groh - D.A. Davidson

Yes Eric, just a quick housekeeping follow-up. Interest expense in Q3 and Q4?

Eric Struik

I think it's 9 million I believe in Q3. Let me just double check a moment here. 9.1 million in interest with 0.6 million in amortized debt issuance cost and it should be similar in Q3, Q4 maybe coming down a little bit with the revolver coming down.

JB Groh - D.A. Davidson

So a total of 9.7 in Q3 and it's a little lower in Q4, is it correct?

Eric Struik

Yes.

Operator

We will go next to Yair Reiner with Oppenheimer.

Yair Reiner - Oppenheimer

Yes just a follow-up to the part of the question. I apologize if you have mentioned this in the script but how much do you’ve in remaining the liquidity on the revolver and then what kind of flexibility do you have to extend the revolver further should the need arise?

Udo Rieder

So the max borrowing we have is a 140 million on the revolver and we finished Q2 at a 102 million and with positive cash flow for the balance of the year, we should have plenty of liquidity for the foreseeable future.

Operator

And this does conclude our question and answer session. I will turn the conference back to Mr. Rieder for closing remarks.

Udo Rieder

Thank you operator. Well in closing I’m obviously disappointed in the results that we have just announced but I would really like to reiterate my enthusiasm about this new Erickson. This new fleet that we have is mix fleet serving these new markets like oil and gas that we have talked about really does position Erickson for growth and success in the future. We have got great employees, we have got a great team, everyone is very talented and we absolutely are positioned to deliver on this. It's an exciting business and I’m really proud to be a part of it and just like to thank all of you for your continued interest in our company and we look forward to the next call. Thanks very much.

Operator

This does conclude today’s conference. Thank you for your participation.

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Source: Erickson's (EAC) CEO Udo Rieder on Q2 2014 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

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