Tutor Perini's (TPC) Management Presents at D.A. Davidson & Co. Engineering & Construction Conference (Transcript)

| About: Tutor Perini (TPC)

Tutor Perini Corporation (NYSE:TPC)

D.A. Davidson & Co. Engineering & Construction Conference

September 15, 2016 01:15 PM ET

Executives

Jorge Casado - VP, IR

Gary Smalley - EVP and CFO

Analysts

John Rogers - D.A. Davidson & Co.

John Rogers

All right. Good morning. We will keep moving along here. We are very fortunate, our next presentation is Tutor Perini. Gary Smalley, CFO is going to give the presentation. Jorge Casado is here as well. So with that, I will turn it over to you. Thanks.

Gary Smalley

Thank you, John. Good morning everyone and welcome. Thank you for your interest in Tutor Perini, and hopefully as time goes on your interest will even increase more. I've been with the Company for just over a year now. Last week I celebrated my first year and real excited to be with the Company, and that excitement has only continued, because I think we got a good story to tell.

We got some positive developments. If you compare for those of you that were here last year, if you think back about some things we talked about a year-ago or like me what I did as I look back at the transcript and compared what we talked about last time and just seen some of the positive developments that we’ve had over the last year. It's really encouraging to a lot of the hard work that the Company has been doing over the last 12 months.

So, some of the positive developments, I will try to point out few of them as we go through the slides. The first one I'd like to talk about on the cover slide here, this is the SR-99 project. So this is a Seattle project, the Alaskan Way Viaduct project, that many of you may have heard of. And this is a project that’s 1.7 miles almost 1.8 miles in length. It is a tunnel obviously. It's going to be a double deck highway underground. This replaces an aging above the ground highway called Alaskan Way Viaduct, in Seattle. It's aging. It's unsafe.

And so, last year when we’re here, we're talking about the tunnel boring machine that we hope that it would be back up and running sometime around Thanksgiving. It had been down for [indiscernible] up on two years due to mechanical issue that was caused by some differing soil conditions that are still under dispute, but the good news is that since we were here a year-ago, the tunnel boring machine restarted. Restarted in the -- just before late December, just before Christmas timeframe. It has been cranking up and going since then.

There are occasional maintenance stops one of which we arrived [ph] at last week. So we have a downtime of a couple weeks to do some routine maintenance. But we have completed about 45% of this 1.7, 1.8 mile length, so about 4,135 feet have had been covered now of tunneling, which compares to less than a 1,000 when we are talking last year. So very good progress. The project is on track for completion and is yielding very solid returns for us, so we’re very pleased with that. So that's one positive development.

Let's -- before we get to too much further, just the customary forward-looking disclaimer. A lot of the comments that I'll be making during the presentation and perhaps on during the Q&A session are forward-looking. So of course the same forward-looking statements that apply in this regard.

Let's talk about us. I think, hopefully most of you know a little bit about Tutor Perini. We are certainly one of the leading construction companies in the country. We do a lot of diversified general contracting. We do design build, self-perform construction services and our clients are both private and public clients. We have been doing this for many years, over 120 years. When you look back at our predecessor companies, we are highly ranked ENR in a variety of categories that are illustrated on the slide.

We are headquartered in LA and we have between 10,000 and 11,000 employees. Our geographic footprint is primarily domestic. This is actually a strength in times where there are troubles in Europe and in Asia with the economies there. Also we are not heavy into to oil, so when oil is -- when the oil markets are tentative like they’re now, we don't have that same type of exposure, so that’s also favorable.

You see our domestic presence. There is a large presence in the Northeast and in Florida and California and then other places in between including Texas. The locations that we have here allows -- actually these locations allow us to penetrate any market within the U.S. We do have some U.S presence. Its -- excuse me, international presence. Its primarily in Guam where we are well-positioned for the troop relocation of Okinawa that continues to be deferred a bit, but once it gets cranked up in earnest, again we’re well-positioned there and we believe more so than anyone else.

We have historically had some other international work primarily in Afghanistan and Iraq to support the war efforts. If you look at our international work, it is lower risk. We are working -- doing government work or doing work for large U.S companies, so we had very little exposure traditionally to any international companies and any risk that would be associated with them.

Some of the significant projects that are driving performance, let's start with the various New York MTA projects. For these, this is the East Side Access projects for those of you that are familiar with that. We’ve been the dominant contractor to extend the Long Island Railway railroad from Queens into the Grand Central Station. This is a significant project for us or significant series of projects for us that continues to do well. I talked about how there's good news in the current year when you compare it to where we were last year.

Not only have the projects continue to perform well, we had a $662 million additional award [ph] CM007 in the first part of this year, so in Q1. So that has continued to provide us with additional backlog and a significant opportunity to earn Civil margins.

The next on the list we’ve already talked about, the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Skipping onto the California High-Speed Rail, we were awarded the first phase called CP1 Construction Phase 1 of high-Speed Rail. And this is a over 30 mile line that goes from Madera to Fresno. This is grading, drainage, and structural work. So we’re not really doing the rail itself. So, it's more a basic civil work and that is going very well. So, again, focusing on some of the improvements from over a year-ago.

Last year we talked about various rights-of-way issues that we had, difficulty getting access in order to be able to execute this project, a lot of those rights have come in and we are starting to make a very good progress. The project is now bumped up to around 20% complete and a very successful project for us at this point. We can expect it to continue in that regard.

The next one is Hudson Yards Platform and Tower D. Hudson Yards, for those of you that don't know is the largest private development that has ever been done in the history of United States. It is also the largest land development project in Manhattan, since the Rockefeller Center. So it's a very significant project. There's a variety of phases of the project, if you will, provide a lot of pieces of the project. There is a retail large retail building, there's mixed-use facilities there, just a very high-end type of effort. There's also a lot of these buildings that are being constructed on top of a platform over a rail yard and we also did the platform. So a very complicated project, but a very significant project for the Company.

If we skip down to, let’s talk just briefly about the San Francisco MTA Central Subway project. We’re doing four platform stations, three of them are underground. And this is to bring the Central Subway T line into Chinatown. Just want to comment about one more project here. Let’s talk about the Panorama Tower. This when completed, this 83-story residential building. It will be the tallest residential building on the East Coast, south of Manhattan. So a very impressive building for us as well. So these -- I’m just touching on some and the slide only list some of the rather impressive projects that we are working on. Certainly, we would expect a lot more significant projects of this magnitude, and this we hope to be coming our way in the future.

Okay. So, Tutor Perini, we’ve three operating segments, Civil, Building, and Specialty. You can see from the slide that the revenue contribution from Civil and Building are about the same, just under $2 billion a piece. But you can also see from the slide deck, at least for the 12 months, last 12 months and this is consistent with the history of the Company. Civil drives the profitability of the Company.

We have Civil margins backed operating margins that are typically in the 8% to 12% range. The larger the project, the more complex the project and the higher the operating margin percent that we would expect to receive in that, in the Civil segment. With the Building segment, our operating margins are lower.

Traditionally they’re in the 1.5% to 2% range. This is driven by contract type, also the way we contract services with the less self-perform work and also the fact that there is higher competition. So all those factors drive down the operating margin percentage to a lower rate. The Specialty Contractors, this is consisted of electrical and mechanical, primarily subcontracting. This is -- these margins are in between the two. So in the 5% to 7% range, think of those and we will talk more about Specialty, as well as we flip through the next few slides.

So Civil segment, as I mentioned, this is our bread-and-butter. This is what we have -- what we make for money as I mentioned. This is where we have traditionally excelled and what Tutor Perini is most known for. So whether it's tunnels, bridges, highways, even wastewater treatment facilities, this is the type of work that we do best and the type of work that we seek the most. It is also the type of work that the federal highway bill is primarily targeted for, it's an infrastructure bill. This is in our sweet spot and so as the funds start to be released, we think, hopefully toward the end of the year, but certainly into 2017 and beyond, we'd expect to have a significant upside from the impact of the of the highway bill.

I should point out that the bid pipeline overall -- we look at bid pipeline as bidding and potential project opportunities over the next year or two. And if you look at the bid pipeline for Civil, we see is $21 billion when I was a standup a year-ago, but when we were here a year-ago, we talked about the bid pipeline, it was $16 billion at the time, so a significant increase.

If you look at the overall bid pipeline for all of Tutor Perini in the same period of time, we’ve had about a 50% growth, more than 50% growth. Actually it went from $27 billion pipeline a year-ago and its $42 billion now and we only expect that to grow again with the impact of the highway bill and also continued strength in many of the building markets that we serve.

Moving on to discuss Building, see the $18 billion bid pipeline here this is -- its up considerably compared to $7 billion a year-ago. So again, just an increase -- dramatic increase in opportunities for us in that pipeline. We’ve got established track record just in -- just expertise that is really unrivaled, if you will, I’m sure all of you’ve probably went to Vegas and we’ve been the dominant contractor over the years in Vegas. We’ve built many, if not most of the magnificent buildings, hotels, and casinos that you see there.

We don't always build under the just the Tutor Perini name, we have some local branding that you see on the left, includes besides Tutor Perini Building Corporation and Perini Management Services. We got Rudolph and Sletten and also Roy Anderson Corporation. So you may see those and those are part of Tutor Perini.

Specialty. So again, this is a margin business somewhere in the 5% to 7% range. The bid pipeline is about even with where it was a year-ago and that’s really because we are being more selective in what we bid with respect to this segment. We are -- we perform substantial work for the Civil and Building segments from this segment. So, whenever you see growth coming in Civil or in Building, then think that -- you should immediately think that there could be growth -- corresponding growth in specialty as well.

We -- our focus is really we can execute anywhere within U.S., but our most significant operations right now are in New York City, also in Texas, California, and Florida. If you look at Electrical, we’ve Five Star Electric. They’re the largest electrical subcontractor in New York City. Combined with Fisk, they give us the total together, give us the number five-rated electrical subcontracting group in the United States. With WDF, the largest mechanical subcontractor in New York City combined with Desert Mechanical or DMI, that ranks us number 10 in the United States in mechanical work.

One thing that we believe provides us competitive advantage and we’ve seen this already since 2011 acquisitions of a variety of the specialty contractors that we’ve talked about, Five Star, WDF, being two of them and also Fisk. We were able to vertically integrate. So when we are doing what is normally a building project or normally a Civil project, we’re able to bring in the other segments as well and so -- and still have a subcontracting now, it's not critically for sub -- the subcontractor or Specialty segment work. We are able to perform that internally. And so instead of losing that 5% to 7% margin, we’re now able to capture that internally. It gives us cost certainty. It also gives us a competitive advantage with respect to the timeliness that we can execute the work.

Some examples are Hudson Yards that we’ve talked about before. Also New York MTA East Side Access project that I also mentioned and then with the San Francisco MTA Central Subway. So all of those were -- are good examples of where our three segments are working well together in very stages in the project.

So what are our core strengths and where does it provide us benefits. Certainly we're very good at cost estimating. In the Civil side of work, I’ve said earlier that was our bread-and-butter. Understand that work is generally in a lump sum or fixed-price basis. And so for that to be where we generally make our most money are almost three-year, make our money in Civil. It's very important for us to be able to estimate cost with certainty.

Certainly, we believe that we can do that better than any of our peers and you can just look at the surprises over the years that we've announced as a Company and ours pale [ph] in comparison to some of the magnitude of charges taken by others.

We also have, as I mentioned, tremendous self-perform capabilities. We’ve got project management and depth of talent that is very sound, especially for a Company our size. We have a very sizeable equipment fleet, all these things provide us certain amount of competitive advantage that that helps us in competing for new awards and also executing them successfully.

Our backlog at the end of June 30, was $7.3 billion. As with others in the -- in our segment, [indiscernible] our industry the -- our backlog can fluctuate up and down. It can be rather lumpy, depending on the timing of large new awards and we do pursue large new awards. I mentioned the $662 million East Side Access award in the first quarter. That spiked our backlog up for Q1, in fact near at record high. And then Q2 awards settle down and so backlog did as well.

We would expect backlog to stay within this range, but could spike up or even drift a little bit down. Over the next couple quarters, we'd expect longer term for the backlog to rise and continue to rise, as again the highway bill takes effect and also some of the larger Civil opportunities take place.

I mentioned a couple of those. One is a $1.7 billion opportunity with the LA MTA for their subway system, the Purple Line. We are one of three bidders and we believe that we’re well-positioned there and we’re hopeful to [indiscernible] an award, the latter part of this year, or perhaps the first part of the next year. Also in Civil, and again higher-margin Civil is a $1.5 billion opportunity that should be awarded in the fourth quarter of this year and this is the I405 expansion in the Southern California and again $1.5 billion there.

There are others -- there are several other projects in the $500 million to $600 million range that we are shortlisted or we are targeting for to be shortlisted on, so there are several opportunities that we think will drive an increasing backlog in profitability to the Company.

Building and Specialty have their opportunities as well, have their bid opportunities as we saw from the healthy bid pipeline. I mentioned a few on the Building side and all of them are Las Vegas that I mentioned and all these are in the $1 billion or more range and all of them are expected to be awarded sometime in 2017.

We don't expect to get all three of these, but we hope to get our fair share. One is the Las Vegas Convention Center and it’s about a $1 billion opportunity there. And there is a win [ph] hotel expansion and that's another $1 billion and then should the NFL decide when they vote and expect it to be right now in January 2, to allow the Raiders to move to Las Vegas. Then that would be at least $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion opportunity. There's some chance for that to grow because there are some adjacent structures and facilities that would -- are also be in [indiscernible] being built, which could add another $0.5 billion to [indiscernible] that if not more. So again, we feel that we are well-positioned with all of these, but of course none are -- not all of them are -- we are going to come our way, but we hope our fair share does and that will cause backlog and profitability to spike up.

You can see from looking our financials, that our revenue has been on a very solid upward trend. We expect that to continue in the current year. On an adjusted EBITDA basis, you see that we are doing pretty well to the last year and we look at -- we had some surprises that you probably follow them and what we’re seeing in 2016 is a restoration to the profitability or improved profitability.

We were profitable last year, just not to the level that we wanted to be. We're seeing a restoration to that -- of that time, improved profitability in the current year. So our guidance, we’re still on revenue guidance. We are $5.1 billion to $5.6 billion for the year. Also for 2016 guidance on EPS, we’re looking at $1.90 to $2.20 per share.

Now, if you look at the assumptions, the second assumption I’d like to point your attention to that, $58 million is what we expect in interest expense and although $11 million is non-cash that is still a significant amount of interest expense in the -- in a focal point one of our focal points with the Company. We are determined to do a couple of things and this is -- moves into why you should invest in Tutor Perini.

We are going to reduce our interest expense and our goal is to reduce it dramatically. We have high yield notes, that we’re paying 7-5/8% for $300 million of high yield notes. We are also paying some around 5% for bit of the term loan that we have left and also a revolver. Our goal in 2016 is to replace the high yield notes with high yield notes that -- with a better interest rate for us. We again are targeting 2016 to be back and at the same time we are also looking at a new bank deal where we will be able to restore our borrowings back to a more market-based percent, which we believe is below 3% range.

So we’re focused on that, but I’d say the number one focus of the Company and those of you that have followed us, certainly over the last six months understand this. We are focused on getting our cash, okay. We’ve got a lot of cash that people [indiscernible] and we’re going to get it. And some of this is, you’ve heard Ron Tutor perhaps speak about this and I could tell you it is a companywide initiative where we are demanding that amounts that are primarily hung up in unbilled, so cost in excess of billings that once we get a contractual arrangement in place, then we will bill, so we can get our cash.

We are in a mission to reduce our unbilled cost and collect cash and with that cash we’re going to pay -- continue to pay down our debt. And you know we had -- on our fourth quarter earnings call, fourth quarter 2015, Ron announced our cash, our unbilled cost initiative where at the time we had $905 million in unbilled cost and the goal was to reduce that in half, so to say $450 million by the end of 2017 over a two year period.

We later indicated that $200 million of that reduction in unbilled cost to come in 2016 with the balance $250 million in 2017. Through the first half of 2016, again against the goal of $200 million, we reduced our unbilled cost by $94 million. So we're on track with the goal and this continues to be a very important initiative, the most important initiative of the Company.

Ron is very engaged in this as I’m as is Jack Frost, our COO. And it is not just the three of us working on this, this is an initiative that is driven and it permeates throughout the organization. We are working hard with our clients, with our owners to work expeditiously to resolve amounts that were due, but for which we need a change orders in order to be able to bill.

I mentioned the $42 billion of the pipeline which is up from $27 billion, certainly that in already a healthy backlog. We will continue to drive the Company, but I think for truly the stock performance improvement that we need, we need the strong backlog. We need more work to replace that backlog as we burn it off, and we need to collect cash and paydown debt. And so we believe that we’re well-positioned to all those things and we’re now making progress especially if you compare to where we were a year-ago. We are making progress in all those fronts.

So John, with that, I will pause here to take whatever questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Q - John Rogers

[Indiscernible] going back to the cash for a second, if you reach your goal $450 million by the end of '17, presume that will help you bring your average interest rate down and I don’t know [indiscernible] is essentially more than have your interest costs [indiscernible] you sort of run that math?

Gary Smalley

Yes. Well, yes, I think so, because there are two factors. One, the refinancing that we're talking about, we’re replacing the high-yield bonds and also getting a new bank deal, that by itself will reduce the interest expense appreciably. And then, as -- then if you combine that with get rid of debt, then that replaces it with no interest expense. So I think the two together, I think that's a reasonable expectation.

John Rogers

And just in terms of the operating cash flow, you mentioned the $94 million. There are a number -- very strong first quarter and not so much in the second quarter [indiscernible] in Specialty services side [indiscernible]?

Gary Smalley

Yes, we are still comfortable with the $200 million for the year. Look it's not easy. If it was easy we wouldn't have this issue to deal with and it could be lumpy, you know it was very constant first and second quarter just -- that’s the way it turned out and we would like to accelerate it. We're working hard to bring it in as fast as we can. We’re not thinking that. We would stop at $200 million, but there are -- it takes two sides of the equation. It's not just us trying hard, we've got to get the other side across the line, so it could be a little lumpy, but we do expect -- we still expect $200 million for this year and we still expect $450 million in total by the end of last year. Where that unbilled cost is coming from is got to be where the buildup was and that is primarily in the specialty contractor group as we mentioned. We acquired seven companies in 2011 and quite frankly we didn’t do as good a job as we should have in integrating those companies. One of those was Five Star. They’re probably -- probably they are the biggest violator of our unbilled cost position. We are working hard with them. We changed out their key managers in early 2016 as you may recall that Ron mentioned on our -- on the Q4 2015 call in February. Ron is there in New York every other week and I’m there, say, once a month or once every five or six weeks. And the emphasis is to turn that operation around and to make sure that the unbilled cost that is replaced -- excuse me, is removed, it's not replaced by new unbilled cost, right. So, it's a bit of a cultural change. Its change in the culture of some of these acquisitions to the way Tutor Perini -- the rest of Tutor Perini and the old Tutor Saliva used to pursue cash. There is -- look, I think that it is almost -- its so basic, right. Get to cash and pay down your debt. We get it and we are working hard to achieve the goals and I see great success and I see more success coming. No one at Tutor Perini is satisfied with where we’re now though.

John Rogers

[Indiscernible] I could.

Gary Smalley

Sure.

John Rogers

The Las Vegas project that you mentioned, $3 billion, $3.5 billion [indiscernible] airport to Las Vegas and there were some other [indiscernible] building partner, but is better margin work than the conventional high riser with a vertical construction [indiscernible] on other. These projects, are they -- do they have that sort of opportunity with the [indiscernible]?

Gary Smalley

Yes, I think that, if you look at stadium, and I want to talk about little bit about sports facilities with this, but if you look at the stadium that has an opportunity for higher margins. Usually the bigger the projects, all of them are large, so it should be on the higher end of the traditional range. But with the stadium project it has elements of civil work in the stadium project. It's not just building a building, right. There are civil excavation and another civil related work that's part of the building the stadium. There is also we bring in with our subcontractors, the specialty group, so that spikes up the margins a bit from the self-perform capability and mix there. So I think that on the stadium you should look at higher than traditional margin, perhaps double, hopefully even more than that, but I think double is probably a good way to look at it, which gets you closer to the margins that you spoke of that we previously saw on Vegas where you can't really compare the environment now, it's actually a different market as you know John. So, you get what the market allows you to get, but in this case we think we will get a little closer to what we’ve got in there previously. So on sports facilities, we’re making a concerted effort. We have a very impressive resume of sports facilities, what we have constructed in the past. We're trying to update that resume, we're trying to regenerate that sports facilities sales group, we've made some recent solid executive hires and we are looking at additional hires and we look at this, because it seems like everyone is doing a new stadium somewhere. We look at this has to be an opportunity for us and also getting a higher building margin than what we normally would get. So, yes, that’s the point of emphasis for us. Yes, sir.

Unidentified Analyst

[Indiscernible] some of the volume, and your [indiscernible] how are they integrated with [indiscernible]?

Gary Smalley

They’re integrated very well.

Unidentified Analyst

Still using that name or …?

Gary Smalley

Yes, we still use that name. Luckily they’re very well integrated. They’re one of the acquisitions that we are very pleased with. We’ve hired seven companies, as I mentioned. A couple, we’re still working through some things, but [indiscernible] that’s behind and they’re a high performer for us and solid management team and we’re very pleased with [indiscernible].

Unidentified Analyst

Are there other acquisitions that you look at now?

Gary Smalley

We need to collect cash and paydown debt. We are -- you always have a kind of an eye on what’s going on and you’re paying attention to those things and if there were something at the right price, at the right time, and it came across us, I’m not sure what Ron's reaction would be, but right now speaking for myself and perhaps for Ron too, we’re so focused on collecting cash and paying down debt. I don't see it being at all likely that in the short-term we’re going to be looking at an acquisition now. We get to the end of 2017, we collect the cash that we’re talking about collecting. We paydown the debt like we’re talking about. We start to put couple hundred million dollars of cash into bank like we had pre-acquisition. Then, I think in a couple of years we're having a different conversation and we're also talking about prospect of paying dividends as we have previously. But until then, we’ve got to bill the unbilled, we got to get that cash in the door [ph] pay down the debt and then go from there.

John Rogers

Sorry, one, if I could.

Gary Smalley

Of course.

John Rogers

In terms of the Civil projects you’re pursuing right now, when you talk about that $3 billion in opportunity in the LA area, [indiscernible]?

Gary Smalley

Yes, on both of these we would be looking at JV involvement, but we would be the predominant, we would be the JV leader. So we’ve have more than 50% in both the [indiscernible].

John Rogers

And then, just in terms of the project like Seattle where you [indiscernible] some sort of the huge settlement. Can you remind us on the timing of those and [indiscernible]?

Gary Smalley

Well, that was the question I was going to ask you, John, because we don’t know. When something goes through the legal system or [indiscernible] not, all of it is not necessarily going to be litigated, but it very well could be. It's hard to predict the timeframe. I don't think that we're looking at anything in the next couple of years. It could be further out. At the same time as we have successfully gotten [indiscernible] backup and continue to with the tunnel boring operation, I think that we have a client that’s far happier with the JV team than they were a year-ago. We've seen some willingness to settle, some change orders in a very fair manner. There are -- so that has happened in recent months. We'd expect that to continue as our performance, we continue to impress them. Well, that clear the big disputed items probably not, but I think that will be when the project is over and as it works through the system. So couple of years or more.

Unidentified Analyst

You mentioned earlier in your efforts to refinancing the expense of debt. Could you give us more color on how that process is going and how confident you’re [indiscernible]?

Gary Smalley

Yes. It is something that I've been looking at -- on the high-yields any way. I’ve been looking at since the last November and the market I've seen it improve and go the other way a few times since then. Based on current market conditions, Brexit had a two or three-week impact on it, absent to any market factor before we can roll this out. I feel very comfortable that we'd improve in the high-yields. On the bank facility, we’ve gotten very favorable response from banks in our group, banks outside our group and I feel very confident -- comfortable, very confident that we are going to be able to put something together than also now. Ideally, some banks may look at it and say well and some investors for the bonds they look at and say, well, instead of having two solid quarters behind you, it will be nice we have three or four, so we will probably face some of that. But we had great success with the convertible that we did in June. It was -- we upsized it. We got a higher conversion premium in a lower rate than what we had thought and part of that was due to market conditions that are favorable again in the bond market right now. But part of it was due to the story and the fact that people can see progress and can see what we're doing and that changes is forthcoming or happening.

John Rogers

Okay. [Indiscernible] call there. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

Gary Smalley

Thanks.

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