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Executives

Paul Carrico - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Gregory Thompson - Chief Financial Officer and Principal Accounting Officer

Martin Jarosick - Executive Director of Investor Relations

Analysts

Charles Neivert - Dahlman Rose & Company, LLC

Brian Maguire - Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Silke Kueck-Valdes - JP Morgan Chase & Co

Andrew Cash - UBS Investment Bank

Gregg Goodnight - UBS Investment Bank

Gregg Goodnight - UBS

Georgia Gulf (GGC) Q2 2011 Earnings Call August 4, 2011 10:00 AM ET

Operator

Good morning. My name is Tekisha, and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Georgia Gulf Second Quarter Financial Results Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] Thank you. I would now like to turn the call over to Mr. Jarosick. Sir, you may now begin.

Martin Jarosick

Thank you, Tekisha, and good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for participating in today's conference call to discuss Georgia Gulf's second quarter 2011 financial results.

There are slides available to you on Georgia Gulf's website. These slides are for your reference, but we will not be speaking directly to the bullets on each slide.

Participating on today's call are Paul Carrico, President and Chief Executive Officer; and Greg Thompson, Chief Financial Officer.

During this call, we will be making forward-looking statements. As you'll appreciate, any business projections and assumptions about future events are subject to risks and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from our current outlook. A list of factors that could affect future results is included in our Form 10-K and subsequent filings. Any forward-looking statements made on this call should be considered in light of those factors.

In addition, during this conference call, we will refer to certain non-GAAP financial measures. We have provided a reconciliation of these non-GAAP measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measure as an appendix in the slides posted on the website.

I'll now turn the call over to Paul to begin the review of the second quarter. Paul?

Paul Carrico

Thanks, Martin, and good morning, ladies and gentlemen. We appreciate you joining us this morning. Our second quarter net sales increased by 13% and adjusted EBITDA was essentially flat at $60.3 million, compared to $62.0 million for the same period last year. These results were achieved despite being impacted by a number of challenging factors during the quarter.

We completed 2 turnarounds in the Aromatics business, and the unplanned chloralkali outage we discussed in May, a subsequent PVC force majeure, and then finally logistical issues caused by the high water on the Mississippi River System.

With all the difficult conditions for the first half of the year, we still generated $44.5 million more EBITDA than the first half of 2010 for a total of $119.4 million. The strong performance for the first half was driven by our Chlorovinyls and Aromatics segments.

Our Building Products segments continues to face soft North American building and construction markets. In this segment, we are focused on continuing to manage costs related to a poor set of conditions in housing, and to position our business for the eventual upturn by developing new and innovative products.

In the Chlorovinyls segment, I'd like to update you on my earlier reference to chloralkali and PVC. Consistent with the timeline we discussed on the first quarter call, we came back to full chloralkali production in June, when the water started to recede in the Mississippi River. The PVC shipments were then resumed at full levels in early July. The cumulative effect of the challenges from the high water in the river and the outage was that sales volumes were reduced by about 65 million pounds of PVC and approximately 36,000 tons of caustic.

Overall, results were reduced for the quarter by these sales amounts and by the planned Aromatics turnaround. However, these events are behind us and we do not plan any addition turnaround work in the Aromatics area through 2012. Additionally, there appears to be some strength in the PVC global market as we go through the third quarter.

For the second quarter, the Chlorovinyls segment generated $51.3 million of adjusted EBITDA, which was the same amount as the second quarter of 2010. The flat results were achieved despite the shipping limitations and the outages as the segment benefited from higher ECU values.

Our Building Products segment generated $28.1 million of adjusted EBITDA in the second quarter 2011, compared to $27.4 million of adjusted EBITDA for the same period last year. This slight increase was a result of the EBITDA contribution from the Exterior Portfolio acquisition. The results in this area were particularly challenged by the poor market conditions in Canada. Despite the tough conditions, we did modestly grow our volumes 3% in the second quarter of 2011 compared to the same period last year. This excludes the Exterior Portfolio acquisition contribution.

We do believe we're gaining market share above and beyond the acquisition of Exterior Portfolio. Relative to the Aromatics segment, we reported a negative $7.1 million of adjusted EBITDA. This compares to a negative $7.5 million of adjusted EBITDA in the second quarter of last year. This relatively flat EBITDA performance does not accurately reflect how much this business has improved during the past 12 months.

For the quarter, we had an inventory holding loss driven by the volatility of benzene and propylene, and subsequent slower shipping schedules due to the river conditions.

As we have mentioned in previous earnings calls, we did have 2 turnarounds in the second quarter that resulted in higher maintenance expenses and reduced volumes by about 30%, compared to the run rate of the previous 3 quarters.

With these scheduled turnarounds now behind us, we expect the Aromatics business to perform well for the rest of the year and to generate more adjusted EBITDA in the full year 2011 than we did in 2010. On a longer-term basis, the Aromatics industry operating rates are expected to continue to move closer to 90%, and global demand is expected to remain strong for several years to come.

At this time, I'll turn the call over to Greg to review our financial results in greater detail.

Gregory Thompson

Thank you, Paul. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Net sales in the second quarter were $831.7 million, an increase of 13% over the same quarter last year. The increase is primarily due to higher sales prices and the Exterior Portfolio acquisition, partially offset by lower volumes due to the planned turnarounds, the unplanned outage and logistical issues that Paul mentioned earlier.

Let's look at our operating performance during the second quarter. We recorded operating income of $35.5 million for the second quarter of 2011, compared to operating income of $37.9 million during the same quarter the previous year. The operating income for the second quarter of 2011 includes $1.2 million of restructuring income from the disposition of the Oklahoma City plant we closed in 2008, partially offset by $400,000 of restructuring cost in the Siding business related to the Exterior Portfolio integration.

SG&A expense for the second quarter of 2011 was $48.2 million compared to $37 million in the same period last year. The increase in SG&A is primarily driven by a $4.8 million increase from the acquisition of Exterior Portfolio and $4 million increase in compensation costs, primarily related to stock compensation, as well as reinstating the 401(k) benefits for all of our employees, mid-year 2010. Our net interest expense for the second quarter was $16.9 million compared to $17.4 million for the second quarter last year.

For the second quarter, we reported tax expense of $2.6 million and an effective tax rate for the second quarter of 15%. The effective tax rate for the quarter was lower than our full-year expectation due to the reversal of certain tax reserves related to Royal prior to the acquisition in 2006.

Our effective tax rate is driven by our full-year forecast for taxable income in the United States and Canada and a number of small adjustments. For the full year, we now expect the effective tax rate to be approximately 30%. Please be aware that this estimate is highly sensitive to how much of our projected taxable income is earned in Canada versus the U.S. and to certain other tax assumptions related primarily to our tax reserves arising from the acquisition of Royal in 2006.

In the Chlorovinyls segment, second quarter 2011 net sales increased to $323.7 million from $300.8 million during the second quarter of 2010. The segment boasted operating income of $37.8 million compared to operating income of $36.2 million during the same quarter in the prior year. The increase in both net sales and operating income was primarily due to higher caustic soda and resin sales prices. This was mostly offset by lower sales volumes and higher raw material costs compared to the second quarter of 2010.

The second quarter 2010 also includes $1.2 million of restructuring income from the disposition of the Oklahoma City plant we closed in 2008.

In the Aromatics segment, net sales increased to $233.9 million for the second quarter of 2011 from $191.6 million during the second quarter of 2010. The increase was primarily due to higher sales prices, offset by lower volumes due to scheduled turnarounds in cumene and phenol.

During the second quarter of 2011, the segment recorded an operating loss of $7.4 million compared to an operating loss of $7.8 million during the same quarter in 2010. As Paul mentioned earlier, the second quarter was negatively impacted by the lost production and additional maintenance expense of 2 scheduled turnarounds, as well as the logistical issues due to river conditions.

Additionally, the market price for benzene and propylene fluctuated during the quarter, falling from March to April, peaking in May, only to fall off again in June and early July. This pattern negatively impacted our second quarter Aromatics results in 2 ways. First, the falling prices during the quarter created an inventory of holding loss of $5.1 million. And in addition, we recognized a $6.5 million lower of cost to market write-down of inventory held at the end of the quarter.

Our inventory position at the end of the quarter and the resulting write-downs was made larger by the logistical issues we had due to river conditions. The high water changed shipping routes and extended transit times, which led to more inventory in the system at the end of the quarter.

In the Building Products segment, net sales were $274.2 million for the second quarter of 2011 compared to $243.2 million during the same quarter in the prior year. The sales increase was due to the acquisition of Exterior Portfolio. The segment's operating income was $16.9 million for the second quarter of 2011 compared to $18.7 million during the same quarter of the prior year.

The decrease in operating income was primarily due to a less favorable geographic and product sales mix, a second quarter 2010 non income tax benefit, which did not recur in the second quarter of 2011, and higher SG&A costs, primarily related to new product introductions. Operating income for the second quarter of 2011 includes restructuring expenses related to the Exterior Portfolio acquisition of $400,000.

The total FIFO impact for the second quarter of 2011 was positive $7 million, with about half of the FIFO impact in the Chlorovinyls segment and the remainder in Building Products. In the second quarter of 2010, the FIFO impact was negative $27 million with half in Chlorovinyls and 1/4 each in Building Products and Aromatics.

Now let's discuss working capital. We define controllable working capital as accounts receivable plus inventory, plus accounts payable. As you know, we invest working capital in the first half of the year and recover most of that working capital injection in the second half due to the seasonality of our business.

Comparing sequentially, controllable working capital increased by about $68.5 million since March 31, 2011. This sequential increase was driven by the normal seasonality in our business and the addition of Exterior Portfolio. Compared to the second quarter of last year, controllable working capital increased by $138.9 million, driven by the 13% increase in sales, the addition of Exterior Portfolio and sizable increases in raw material costs, especially propylene, benzene and ethylene.

Our cash conversion cycle lengthened by 5 days compared to the second quarter of last year, mostly due to Aromatics and Building Products. In Aromatics, the previously mentioned turnarounds and logistical issues related to high water impacted our ability to sell product, and we ended the quarter with more inventory than planned.

In the Building Products business, we ended the quarter with a higher level of inventory also, in part due to rising raw materials prices.

On the cash flow statement, you will note that we generated $4.2 million of cash from operating activities, as compared with $47.9 million for the second quarter of 2010, mostly as a result of the higher working capital needs I just mentioned.

Capital expenditures were $12.8 million for the second quarter of 2011 compared to $9.8 million in the second quarter of 2010. This results in negative free cash flow from operations of $8.6 million for the second quarter of 2011 compared to $38.1 million, a positive free cash flow in the second quarter of 2010. This was lower than last year due to higher level of working capital invested in the business this year.

For the full year, we still expect to generate free cash flow in the range of $60 million to $120 million, excluding the Exterior Portfolio acquisition price.

As we have mentioned previously, our primary uses for excess cash flow are to pay down debt and fund accretive growth. In early April, we redeemed the remaining $22.2 million balance of our 2013 and 2014 senior notes.

Now I will turn the call back over to Paul for our 2011 outlook.

Paul Carrico

Thanks, Greg. Before we begin the question-and-answer session for this call, I want to comment on our 2011 guidance. During our first quarter call in May, we increased our 2011 EBITDA guidance to a range of $275 million to $295 million. A key assumption was that we would repair our chloralkali plant and return to full production on schedule, which we did.

Additionally, natural gas and ethylene costs, caustic and PVC prices and operating rates, as well as housing and construction markets, has, for the most part, been in line with our expectations. Based on our current view, we continue to expect 2011 adjusted EBITDA to be in the range of $275 million to $295 million.

I'll now turn the call over to the operator, so we can take your questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from the line of Brian McGuire.

Brian Maguire - Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

I think these days, everyone's very keen on what people are seeing realtime in their business. And so, I was a little curious to hear your remarks that you're seeing some strength picking up in the PVC global market, and I was hoping you could expand on that. Is that an actual acceleration in demand or just kind of demand maintaining its prior levels, maybe more than people are thinking, reading the general headlines in the news today? And then just kind of in part of that, how much visibility do you usually have into demand or your order book? Are we talking 30 days, 60 days, maybe you could ballpark it, something like that?

Paul Carrico

Okay. Yes, on the global side of the equation, I think the headlines are a bit overdone in that area. We certainly have some adjustments related to some pullbacks, probably a bit to the inventories and such and also pricing in the PVC market over the last couple of months. But that appears to have stabilized and maybe slightly picking up. On the volume side, we don't see a huge decrease from where we were. In fact, if we could have more volume, I think we could put that out there in that market. My expectation is that not so much driven by the global growth rate or the lack thereof, but driven by the cost part of the equation that PVC for North America should be a viable export option for, at least, in the next 30 to 60 days. But I guess I would say I don't see what would necessarily change that dramatically through the rest of the year.

Brian Maguire - Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

And then just on the topic of caustic. I think there's an expectation that prices will kind of recede a little bit later in the year, I think CMAI is forecasting next year's price to be about $75 a ton, less than the 2011 average estimate. Can you give a sense on what kind of impact if some your costs stay the same? What kind of impact that might have on the Chlorovinyls' EBITDA?

Paul Carrico

Well, you can take a look at our capacity. I think we published a range of 450,000 tons, something like that. So you'll just do the math on that.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Andy Cash.

Andrew Cash - UBS Investment Bank

Greg, maybe you can start up. What sort of range are you using for working capital consumption for the year?

Gregory Thompson

Again, in that $60 million to $120 million free cash flow, we're looking for working capital, probably to be a net -- somewhere in the net neutral range for the full year. So it is -- it's a pretty big seasonal impact for us, kind of where we are right now and that will start to unwind from here.

Andrew Cash - UBS Investment Bank

So you're saying, no use of working capital this year?

Gregory Thompson

Yes. It could be a small use, but I don't expect much. It's maybe a small positive.

Andrew Cash - UBS Investment Bank

So here's the way I'm thinking about this. If you're EBITDA is going to be at the low end of the range, you take off with your taxes, CapEx, I mean, $60 million to $120 million should be a very conservative range. And if you just assumed that only did $60 million, why not put $1 dividend on the stock or perhaps buy back 10% of your stock. What's keeping you from doing that at these levels?

Gregory Thompson

Well, we're trying to -- we're continuing to -- I guess we're conservative guys, and we continue to manage the business for the future and try and maximize shareholder value and what we think is in the best return for shareholders. So I think it is a wide range, the $60 million to $100 million…

Andrew Cash - UBS Investment Bank

No. But the use of -- if you just take $60 million, you could buy back easily 10% of your stock or you could put $1 dividend on there and give yourself -- we're looking at dividend yields to support it. That would be perhaps sell us some value creation measures. I mean, are these on the table? Are you thinking about these things?

Paul Carrico

Yes, those are things we are thinking about. We also have talked about the need -- I think for positioning the business long-term and the value that we get through increased Chlorovinyls integration. And so, to the extent and pace that we do that, those are also some pretty big investments that we would need to make as well. And so, it's that longer-term focus that we have that we continue to think through relative to those investments, as well as dividends and stocks, FX and all those kinds of things.

Andrew Cash - UBS Investment Bank

I was just hoping you could take advantage of the volatility of the market here.

Paul Carrico

Well, maybe that will present us with some opportunities.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Charles Neivert.

Charles Neivert - Dahlman Rose & Company, LLC

Just quickly, can you talk a little bit about your export distribution in terms of where the product heads? In my understanding and I guess from the statements you guys just made, you don't send a lot off into the Asian marketplace, and I guess maybe more into other markets so you got the price hit at Asia may have given you, but not so much the volume. Does that seem it ended up operating this quarter?

Paul Carrico

That's a generally fair comment, but partially, we were somewhat restricted because of the chloralkali outage and the ethylene limitation we had there during the quarter. And so, our volume would have been higher, say, for that reason.

Charles Neivert - Dahlman Rose & Company, LLC

And then also, if I remember, it was 2Q '10 part of the -- contained in the stimulus program on housing. Did it not? And just obviously, 2Q '11 didn't. So I guess the comp might even look a little bit better under that circumstance.

Gregory Thompson

That's correct, Charlie. In Canada, they had a number of incentive programs, in particular. We also had some in the U.S., but in Canada they had incentive programs. And then they also had, in effect, a tax increase that kicked in, in Canada called their Harmonized Sales Tax in July. So that, too, pulled forward a little bit of demand into second quarter last year.

Charles Neivert - Dahlman Rose & Company, LLC

And I guess, last question. In terms of the Exterior Portfolio acquisition, can you give some idea about what kind of contribution it made to Building Products this quarter? I know it's still being integrated. There were other -- there were issues rounding it. But in terms of the number, either percentage or absolute about, what it would have brought in this quarter? So we could sort of get an idea about that going forward.

Gregory Thompson

Yes, we continue with the integration. We think it's going to be a really good acquisition for us. It's helped round out our product portfolio in Siding, and in the U.S. our presence. So it was a -- I guess that acquisition, it was a 10%, as I recall, sort of EBITDA generator, something in that range. And we think that we would hope to expand it from there. Now short term, it's been hit by the tough U.S. housing conditions, but we've got -- we have been able to supply resin and also increasing additives. So we've got some synergies there, because they did not previously buy product from Georgia Gulf. So we think it's going to be a big win for us going forward.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] We do have a question from Gregg Goodnight.

Gregg Goodnight - UBS Investment Bank

To re-ask Charlie's question in a bit of a different way, your Building Products seem particularly strong, what percentage of the year-over-year improvement would you attribute to the Exterior Portfolio contribution versus sort of increase in domestic demand? Could you just give us a rough idea?

Paul Carrico

Well, I think maybe if you go back to the numbers that were laid out when the acquisition occurred, as it's been the case with a lot of the North American demand situation, the demand there is not as strong as we would have liked it to be with housing and remodeling where it is. But still, in the general range, we're moving in that direction. So you could take a number off of the original numbers that were presented and kind of use that as a guideline.

Gregory Thompson

And just further to that, Gregg, also, as we continue to integrate, and we did have -- we're doing more and more of that, while keeping the products and also a lot of the sales and marketing culture that they have there. As we get -- as we continue to integrate, it becomes a little more difficult for us to really separately break it all out, because we're selling some of the Exterior Portfolio products now through our Canadian distribution, and we're looking at taking some of our existing Building Products products and pushing it through Exterior Portfolio.

Gregg Goodnight - UBS

Okay. Your expectation was that your margins would be incrementally higher for the Exterior Portfolio business, has that met your expectations so far?

Paul Carrico

Yes, I would say, save for the reduction in sales associated with the market downturn a little bit. Generally speaking, we think it will continue to perform in that range.

Gregg Goodnight - UBS

Shifting gears, looking at PVC domestic prices versus export prices, note that export prices has been down about $100 a ton since mid-May. But domestic prices seemed to be hanging in there, if you can reference some of the consultants' reports, where basically you had -- they're reporting June as flat and possibly July, down maybe $0.01 to $0.02 as opposed to polyethylene, which saw quite a bit more price reduction. Could you comment on the recent trend of domestic PVC pricing? Has it held in pretty much?

Paul Carrico

Yes, it has. We were in that dynamic of the export pricing being higher than the domestic and what you've seen is -- which is kind of what was expected overtime, as they gradually came together. And there's really not much reason for the domestic price to drop off at this point, save for people who's just deciding to go out and make some moves in that direction. And even the reduction that was, I guess, assumed might occur out there was based upon some raw material reductions that really didn't occur. So from our point of view, there's nothing that causes the PVC domestically, the equation change. And in fact, there's the price increases out there for August and September.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Silke Kueck.

Silke Kueck-Valdes - JP Morgan Chase & Co

Can you talk about how you think you may get to the high end of your EBITDA guidance? Well, what does that imply? Does that imply higher PVC prices or the Aromatics business being much stronger? Can you just talk about how you think you can get to the high end of the guidance?

Paul Carrico

As a general comment in the script there, we did outline that we thought Aromatics to perform stronger in these last 6 months. We're probably not quite as bearish as some folks on the caustic pricing dropping or the PVC price dropping the way it's outlined. The market is not really showing that at this point. And so, we have somewhat reasonable view of the third quarter that we're into right now, and things still appear to be on track. The real question comes around in the fourth quarter. And generally speaking, we would say that in the PVC world, in particular, the export demand should still be there, and on Aromatics, we would say the same thing.

Gregory Thompson

Yes, I guess that's the other thing I would add to that. Silke, building on what Paul said, is that for Building Products, we would expect the -- and I think we feel good about where we are in spite of challenging market conditions. So third quarter probably should be in the range of what we did in the second quarter, but fourth quarter, we would expect to be a lot better for the Building Products segment than the first quarter was.

Silke Kueck-Valdes - JP Morgan Chase & Co

And the second question. I was similarly puzzled about the free cash flow guidance. And again, similar math, if you generate $275 million EBITDA, if your tax went to 30%, then it's like $83 million of taxes and maybe another $70 million CapEx. So it gets very easy to get to $120 million. So are there any other items? Are there any pension items or do you have to take a write-down? And also given that you also think that working capital will be neutral. What other items could there be to get to $60 million?

Gregory Thompson

Well, you've got -- you started with the EBITDA numbers, so you backed off our -- the CapEx of $85 million mature [ph] -- the addressed CapEx and then cash, cash interest, $70 million, call it, and your tax number actually sounded a little bit high. And then, working capital is, I think could be the, as I was saying earlier, could be a swing either way, but it gets you kind of that in that $60 million to $120 million range.

Silke Kueck-Valdes - JP Morgan Chase & Co

And it doesn't reflect in the interest expense correctly. And lastly, what was the magnitude of the maintenance-related expenses in Aromatics? And indeed, what was the expense related to the outage of chloralkali, what business, just a ballpark?

Paul Carrico

Well, normally, we don't provide too much information there, but the Aromatics, being 2 turnaround was certainly more than a couple of a million, but it was not up to a double-digit. And then on the chloralkali outage, the actual cost of the maintenance, I believe, we had some numbers there. It was not that significant.

Gregory Thompson

Yes, it was kind of low single digits, millions. The real issue was the time it took to get it done and the loss of production and profitability because of that.

Operator

We do have a follow-up question from the line of Brian McGuire.

Brian Maguire - Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

I just wanted to follow up. Given that you're running at pretty high operating rates already and you mentioned there was some supply disruptions from the Mississippi River, I was wondering if there might be a volume benefit in the third quarter, some of the shipments bled over to July or August that would give you a little bit of a benefit in the third quarter?

Gregory Thompson

It's really pretty small. There's a little bit of that, but not much that fell over into the third quarter. Most of that, when we were down, most of that business we've really lost for the year.

Operator

We have another follow-up question from Andy Cash.

Andrew Cash - UBS Investment Bank

Did I hear $85 million in CapEx for the year?

Gregory Thompson

$75 million to $5 million is our guidance, Andy.

Andrew Cash - UBS Investment Bank

So you guys really have to get busy in the second half of the year?

Gregory Thompson

Yes, we're pretty busy now. We do have some -- I mean, we've got some -- one big project, in particular, in Chlorovinyls where we're replacing one of our brine wells, I mean, that's something we've been working on. So that's kind of a bigger-than-normal CapEx spend but...

Andrew Cash - UBS Investment Bank

So that's something new compared to maybe your own this year?

Gregory Thompson

No. That's something you got to do every once in a while, and that's always been part of what we have built into our CapEx expectation for the year.

Andrew Cash - UBS Investment Bank

Is that over $20 million?

Gregory Thompson

I don't think, we didn't...

Andrew Cash - UBS Investment Bank

I've got a different question. How much -- I don't really know this, so this is educational for me, how much of your exposure is into the bleach market?

Paul Carrico

Very minimal.

Andrew Cash - UBS Investment Bank

It's chloride, I was talking about, lower cost, I was just curious if I was backing up, the bleach market was much backed up into lower chlorine prices, but you're not seeing any of that?

Paul Carrico

I didn't know where they -- I didn't really see that. I don't know where they come up with it, but we're not really much into the beach market.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] And there are no further questions from the phone line. Let me turn it back over to you, Mr. Jarosick.

Martin Jarosick

Thank you, everyone, and we look forward to speaking with you again in November.

Operator

This concludes today's conference call. Thanks for your participation. You may now disconnect.

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