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Texas Industries Inc. (NYSE:TXI)

The Wall Street Analyst Forum

November 27, 2007 9:50 am ET

Executives

Ken Allen - VP and Treasurer

Moderator

[Call Starts Abruptly]

…while maintaining a low-cost profile, TXI is the largest low-cost producer of cement in Texas. The current project to modernize and expand their Southern California plant will make them a low-cost number two producer of cement in that market. And I'd like to introduce Ken Allen, Vice President and Treasurer of Texas Industries.

Ken Allen

Helen,thank you, and good morning. We appreciate the opportunity to come and tell the story today to the Wall Street Analysts Forum. Without further ado, we'll jump right in.

You've probably seen a slide like this before from other companies. We'll be talking later on in our presentation of that--what TXI might look like in the future, and we all know that the future is full of risk and uncertainties, and this slide addresses those as well. You can also read a little more in our 10-K. But with that, as someone said, we are a cement, aggregate and concrete building materials company. We make all three products, and all are used in all types of construction.

But the key takeaway is that the cement side of TXI's business accounts for three-quarters of TXI's profitability, and when we think about how we want to grow the company over the next few years, almost all of that growth is going to come from cement, as well. So, most of the presentation today will center on cement.

We talk about our cement plants, and here you see a picture of our North Texas cement plant, just south of Dallas-Fort Worth. It's our largest plant. We make 2.8 million tons-3 million tons of cement a year out of this plant. The key thing to realize here is, making cement is a very capital-intensive process. These are big plants, and they require a large amount of investment.

To make cement, we need limestone, and limestone accounts for over 90% of the raw material in making cement. And here, you see the face of a limestone quarry. We mine and take rock from the quarry and crush it, and then heat it in a kiln. And here, you see the interior of the kiln, and we heat the limestone to 2500 degrees Fahrenheit--3000 degrees Fahrenheit--and that limestone goes through a chemical change and becomes clinker, and you can see the clinkers filling up at the lower left-hand side there; it's quite hot.

We then take that clinker, when it cools down it's a hard rock, and we grind that to a face powder consistency, mix it with a little gypsum, and that becomes cement, hat when you mix with water, sand and gravel and stone, becomes the concrete that we are all so familiar with. And here, you can see one of our readymix plants--or concrete plants.

We are all used to seeing the trucks with the drums on the back that turn, that's mixing the cement powder, the stones, sand and gravel and the water together on its way to the job site. Again, we are in all three businesses cement, aggregate and concrete, but our primary business is cement.

If I could leave two thoughts with you today about TXI, that will be--the first is, we think we have significant margin expansion coming, not necessarily due to price--we think there is opportunity to move prices up--but significant margin expansion due to operational improvements, and that, also, over the next three, four years, we plan to take our 5 million tons of cement capacity and turn it into almost 8 million tons in three projects--one each, at each of our cement plants in Texas and California.

We will touch on the following things today, and talk in more detail. We like the way the U.S. cement industry is structured, and you will see that here, in just a moment. But within that, we like where we are; Texas and California are good attractive cement markets, and good construction markets. Within those markets, TXI is the largest in Texas, and a low-cost producer. In California, we are on our way, like Helen said a little earlier, with the plant that we are just getting ready to start up any day now, to become a number two producer and a low-cost producer.

All of these projects just enhance our competitive position in good markets will end with an earnings power example that we will talk a little bit more about margin expansion. And then also just touch on the fact that we've got the capital structure that easily provides for the foundation here for the growth that we are talking about.

But getting back to the industry and the industry structure…what determines demand for cement? And just very simply, if you look, about half of all demand for cement comes from public works construction; the other half is about evenly split between residential construction and non-residential construction. Now, three or four years ago, the residential peace would have been greater than a quarter and non-res market a little less than a quarter, but still this is the way it tends work. You can't pick up a newspaper today, you can't turn on the TV without hearing about the downturn in residential construction, and in our markets, that's been the case.

In California, the housing starts year-to-date September are down about 40% year-over-year. In Texas they are down 20% to 25%; we just didn't see the overbuilding in Texas that we saw in California. Non-residential construction is down in California.; it's about even in Texas. And public works, we have a stable environment in public works today in Texas, and in California--we're actually seeing in the last two years, have seen a recovery in public works.

Calendar year 2006, highway contract awards were up 40% to 45%, calendar year 2006 versus calendar year 2005, and so far this year, they're up another 40%, compared to calendar year 2006 Not really growth; this is recovery. And on top of that, recall that year ago, the California voters passed $40 billion of bond initiatives, and for context recall that the United States in that November election, passed a total of $50 billion-$55 billion.

In California, it was $40 billion of that. California passed $40 billion of bond initiatives related to construction, half of which is centered and focused on highway construction. We haven't yet seen the impact of that bond money on construction in California. We know it will eventually come. It takes a while for public entities to step from one level of spending up to another, but what we see in California is, that the Public Works side of things ought to look very solid [geared] for the coming years.

So, what does all this mean? Well, for context, about 80% of TXI's revenues come from Texas, and 20% come from California. In Texas, cement consumption has been fairly stable. We are right at 17 million tons of cement consumption in the state. That's about where we were last year.

In California, demand for cement is around 16 million tons. For comparison purposes two years ago that was 17.5 million tons. So demand is down, again primarily driven by the residential decline that we've seen out there.

But its not just about demand, it's also about capacity and market structure, and that's what the next slide begins to show. And here, you can see, the U.S. cement industry demand for cement is the blue line on top, and the tan line is capacity in the United States to make cement. And you can see now that for over a decade, demand for cement, or consumption of cement, has exceeded capacity by a fairly wide margin.

Both demand and capacity have grown, but there is still a difference, and the difference has to be made up by imported cement. For again example in our markets, in Texas, with demand at 17 million tons, capacity in the market is about 12 million tons.

In California today, with demand at about 16 million tons, capacity is about 13 million tons. If you expand the California market, and think in terms of Las Vegas and the Arizona markets as well, and call that one market, you're looking at a market that has somewhere between 22 million tons and 23 million tons of demand, and 16 million tons to 17 million tons of capacity, as well. So again, the Texas and California markets look very similar to the U.S. market that you see here.

But we need imports. Now, our outlook is that cement consumption should continue to exceed cement capacity, and you can see that either in Texas or California, or in the U.S. as a whole, demand does that and has for a long time. But the other side of this is what happens to supply. And a key driver that's occurred over the last couple of decades is, that the large international cement producers have been consolidating the worldwide cement industry, and the U.S. has been a part of that.

And today, 80%-85% of all U.S. cement capacity is owned by foreign cement companies, who, by and large, are the companies that have been consolidating the worldwide industry. But not only that. Another key change that's occurred is that imports, roughly at least 90% of imported cement in the U.S,. is managed and controlled by the same people who makes cement in the United States, who by and large, are the large international cement producers.

Now, what does this mean? Well it means that if you are making cement in a market and making good margins, and today you are importing cement as well, but you are not making much money on that with shipping costs, likely are and things like that, you really don't want to import more cement into a market than really is required, and the best test case is that really has been in California.

Recall a few moments ago, I mentioned that cement demand in California is dropped from 17.5 million tons to 16 million tons in the last couple of years. Imports have done the same thing, and the markets remained in balance, and pricing has been fairly stable at California, as well.

So, again, it's not just the fact the demand exceeds capacity, but also that supply is being managed very rationally, and then, finally, in markets where we ought to be able to add fairly attractive returns, there still are fairly significant barriers to enter year.

Primarily, that's in getting environmental permits. We burn coal to make cement, getting an environmental permits to get -- to be able to build a brand new plant is very, very difficult. We don't think you'll ever see a block of brand new plant to make cement built in California, for instance.

To build a brand new plant in another state might take at least five years, no one really know, but it's at least five years to get that plant built. If you have an existing plant, where you can add equipment, to add capacity and production, where you can also add equipments so that your emissions don't increase, you can generally get a permit to do that. And recall in the previous slide, we looked at, we saw capacity increasing overtime. That's mostly what's happened in the U.S. industry over the last few years, and that's what we are doing with all three projects, as well.

So, pretty favorable, cement industry structure, but that's not all. We really like being in Texas and California; we are the two largest cement markets in the United States, together we account for not quite a quarter of all cement consumed in the United States. There are transportation programs--for building highways--are very positive in those markets. But more important than any of that, is that what really counts for construction activity in the market, are the demographics in the markets.

What you want are large population bases with above-average population growth rates, and both Texas and California account for those. We are in a business where cement plants will last for several decades. We need to thinking about good long-term markets, and Texas and California fit those bills.

So, good industry structure, good markets, but also a good position in the market, as well, is important. And in Texas, as I mentioned before, we are the largest in Texas with our two cement plants that will make about 3.6 million tons in a market that's consuming 17 million tons of cements, with 12 million tons of total capacity.

We are also low-cost there, in California, we are neither, but we are in the process of changing that. We'll talk about that in a couple of minutes, but also you can see here on the slide, that our ready mix and aggregate operations are primary located in the Texas region.

I mentioned the low cost, and this is very important for us. About 60% of the cost of making a ton of cement is made up of labor and energy. And here you can see labor productivity and energy efficiency, spelled out for our North Texas large scale, and how that compares with modern Portland cement plants in the United States, today. And you can see that we make about 6 tons per man hour, where the average PCA plant makes about 3.5; and energy efficiency, we're about equal, and in electricity efficiency, we do a little better than that--you've got to be low cost, and very efficient.

In our Central Texas plant, which is a smaller plant, it makes a little less than a million tons a year-to-day. Our numbers line up with the PCA comps, but the plants we compete with down there are also of the similar size. What's different here is our plant at California today; We acquired and purchased plant in 1998, knowing it was a very old and very inefficient plant. But, before we acquired it, we made sure that we can get the permits to upgrade that, and we are just about finished with the project to do that. But, to give you an idea, today out of that plant, seven kilns make 1.3 million tons, and we are going to replace that with one kiln that will make 2.3 million tons.

And just as a data point, out there today and the folks who run that plant do a great job and have of running this plant and getting it to work [additional KI]. But today, it consumes about 170 kilowatt hours a ton, and by the time we improve that, we ought to get the kilowatt hour per ton number down below a 120, so again efficiency improvements to come.

So again, so what is this plant, we spent two years now building and just in the process of bringing online. This plant will make us the second largest net producer in Southern California, it will make us a low-cost supplier. We are adding one kiln that will make 2.3 million tons; it will replace an old kiln that made 1.3 million. So, an additional one million tons of capacity will be added; the investment of approximately $360 million.

All of our permits and permissions are in place, and have been for sometime now. This is very similar to the project expansion we did in North Texas that you saw a picture of the plant a few minutes ago. Identical kiln production, really this one will be a little more than that, same technology, we've got experience in startup as well. We are scheduled to come online and we are beginning to startup motors and that sort of things, so just anytime now this plant will come online.

We've said publicly that we expect the incremental EBIT from this project to be at least $60 million or an incremental EBITDA from the plant, if you prefer that measure of $75 million. Now, half of that benefit comes from just making that 1.3 million tons that we make today much more efficiently, with labor costs lower, energy costs lower, repair and maintenance cost lower. The other half comes from having an additional million tons to sell into the market as well.

That's our first expansion project, and really our most important. We have two others at our North Texas plant, you saw a picture that earlier. We're in the process of incrementally expanding its capacity by de-bottlenecking that and that will occur gradually over the next three to four years. Over that time, we ought to be able to add about 0.5 million tons of production to that plant. And then in Central Texas, we call it our hunter plants, where today we have one kiln that makes 900,000 tons. We've just broken ground in October on roughly a two year project to add a new kiln line at that location and increase the capacity by 1.4 million tons.

Now, we'll continue when this new kiln comes online, we'll continue to run the old -- I call it the older kilns still very efficient kiln. So the plant will have 2.3 million tons, the project cost we've said should be between $325 million and $350 million. We expect the incremental benefit from this project to be on the order of $50 million of EBIT, at least, or $65 million of EBITDA.

So, again, what you see here over the next three to four years is an opportunity for TXI to grow organically, its cement capacity from 5 million tons to almost 8 million tons, roughly a 60% increase, and not just add tons, but also improved efficiency, as well.

Earnings potential, and on this slide I would like you to focus on the very top line, the EBITDA line there, and just a form of foundation. Our fiscal year 2007 EBITDA was a $190 million, and we are in the process, now we are a year into a process and program of expanding margins in our aggregate and ready mix operations, basically through efficiency improvements. On the aggregate side, its capital investment to improve older plants, in the ready mix side it's just a focus on blocking and tackling of everyday operations.

If we reach those goals, and we've said by the end of fiscal year '09, which is this coming May, as we look into fiscal year '09, we would like to have our overall margins in the company be in the high-teens, primarily driven by the margin improvements in aggregate ready mix, and that's, primarily, the driver you see from a $190 million to the $225 million.

And then, as we look in the $225 million, would be as we look in to fiscal year 2009, and at that point, as well, we ought to get the full benefit from the California expansion, as well and you can see the $225 million moving to $300 million. And so columns 2 and columns 3 tend to be fiscal year 2009 objectives, and then on top of that, and it's a couple of more years out, but we have the addition. We don't show it here because it is further out, but the Hunter Cement Plant expansion should add about $65 million of additional EBITDA.

Now, in addition to that we also have a cement price increase and that's for Texas in January of $10 a ton, some producers are out in January, some are in April, but a $10 a ton margin improvement just due to pricing is not really included in any of these numbers. It's a little harder to get a price increase today than it was two years ago, but many producers in Texas have a price increase announcement for early in calendar year 2008.

What all this comes down to is over the next three to four years, as we think we have the opportunity to basically double TXI's EBITDA through organic expansion and margin improvement, again, primarily due to operational efficiencies. So, again, margin expansion and cement capacity expansion, I probably said that enough already, they are the primary growth drivers in TXI. Margin expansion due to operational improvements, we continue to be aggressive in trying to get prices up as well.

That's our story. Thank you for being patient; I'd be happy to take some questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Ken Allen

Yes, sir.

Unidentified Audience Member

[Question inaudible]

Ken Allen

Well, half. The question was in California, with the bond initiatives of $40 billion, how does all that play out in timing and where does it go. And in timing, I think, it's coming we haven't seen the benefit yet. There is a sense that we ought to begin to see the impact of the bond money in calendar year 2008. I want to stress "begin to see that" I don't think we will see the full impact in calendar year 2008.

And then, how much of that will impact the cement and aggregate industry? Well, half of that $40 billion is highway construction, and then the other half will tend to be construction projects of all different types, as well. The highway program is going to be more cement and aggregate intensive than the other pieces are. But all $40 billion in general numbers is going to have an impact on demand for building materials.

Again, in the light, I try to stress because we've watched this and other public entities over the last decade, as they stepped from one level to another it tends to take time to see the full impact from that. But it's a lot of money.

Unidentified Audience Member

[Question inaudible]

Ken Allen

We think that's the case. Okay, with political funding and things like that, it's a little bit like forecasting interest rates in terms of timing, and things like that. What we do feel confident about is over the next several years, highway funding in California will be good and strong.

Unidentified Audience Member

[Question inaudible]

Ken Allen

Good. The question is what's happening with pricing in California, the good answer is nothing. Demand for cement is down significantly, and we have price stability in California, and that's very important to us. Yes, ma'am.

Unidentified Audience Member

Can you tell us about acquisition of competitors in the same line of business, as well as adding product lines such as mortar and mortar aggregates?

Ken Allen

Good question. The question is, what other things could we be doing to grow either through acquisition or new product lines? On the acquisition front, we feel fortunate to have organic opportunities to grow, more acquisition multiples tend to be pretty high. We try to be very return-oriented in the company. And as a result, acquisitions are something that just hasn't been much of a focus in TXI.

The last major acquisition we made was the California cement plant, and we paid about four times EBITDA for that plant, just to give you sense of our perspective on things. But you never rule that out. But honestly, in terms of cement capacity that's available to be purchased, there isn't much left in the United States. We would be interested in aggregate opportunities, but a lot of other people are, too, and that gets to those acquisition multiples.

On the readymix side, as you look at what's happening worldwide with vertical integration, more and more cement companies are getting either more involved in readymix, or expanding their footprint in readymix, and that might be something that you would see TXI consider. We do have a line of packaged cement products that we make. I tell you though we really want to try to stick to what we know, that's not to say that we won't look at things. But we think we've got a very, very good strategy for expanding our earnings capacity in the things that we are good at and the things that we know and that's going to be our primary focus.

Unidentified Audience Member

[Question Inaudible]

Ken Allen

Good point, now the mortar side of the business is a fairly small side. When you think about consumption of cement, less than 5% of all cement consumed probably goes through the mortar side of things. But let's talk about adding – these people who have been adding fly ash to cement now for 20 or 25 years and figuring out how kind of a hamburger helper approach, if you will, to extend the amount of cement you can use, and that's always been with us. Cement, believe it or not, has been around for about 2000 years. The Romans used it back, they were having a little different quality than it is today, but we never stop. At TXI, we were the first people to figure out how to take slag from steel making and use it in the cement making process. Okay. It's called CemStar. To actually get more tons of clinker out of the production process, people have been trying to do that for decades. So I don't want to give you ideas that we're not looking at new things.

Unidentified Audience Member

[Question Inaudible]

Ken Allen

Okay. As building materials continue to be in short supply and the price goes up, there will be ways for people on the edges to figure out how to add things to extend cement. We really don't see anything that's going to be a world changing for example, that are.

Unidentified Audience Member

[Question Inaudible]

Ken Allen

Exactly.

Unidentified Audience Member

[Question Inaudible]

Ken Allen

Exactly. Good, other questions?

Unidentified Audience Member

So, indeed, sort of pro forma earnings potential numbers. What sort of energy cost assumptions were you making?

Ken Allen

Good questions, and I should have covered that earlier on. The question was in our pro forma earnings potential numbers--what sort of assumption where we were using for energy, and basically, we are saying energy stays about where it stated now for the last year, year and a half. Yes?

Unidentified Audience Member

But, then I think its gone up a lot recently?

Ken Allen

It hasn't. Yeah. Our energy costs are primary electricity and coal, and we have several year contracts for coal, and then our electricity cost is primarily driven off with natural gas costs and gas has been pretty stable for the last year, year and a half. Good question. What else? You all have been very patient. Yes, sir?

Unidentified Audience Member

Transportation. The after transportation away from these plants--what amount of percentage of cost, did that represent?

Ken Allen

Yeah. The transportation cost, in terms of delivering a ton of cement from our North Texas plant into the Dallas-Fort Worth area, is borne by the customer. Okay, and so when you look at our financials, it's basically a pass through. For every dollar in revenues, there is a dollar in cost there that flows through on that. The further away you ship cement, okay; the closer you get to someone else's cement plant, okay. The more you end up having to eat the transportation cost, if you will, and that's one of the things that makes the cement market on land a pretty good market, is try to keep your cement within 200 miles to 300 miles of our plant there. That tends to be your key radius. Sure.

Unidentified Audience Member

[Question Inaudible]

Ken Allen

We don't think so in today's world. Today, with overseas shipping costs being what they are, anyone who imports cement today probably isn't doing much better than breaking even on their imported cement. And relative to EBIT margin, and in a local production plus 30%, you'd have to see shipping costs come way down, or something dramatic change for that equation to change dramatically there. Good question.

Unidentified Audience Member

That's breakeven with working capital.

Ken Allen

Yeah, that's not much to…

Unidentified Audience Member

Gives us just sort of a cash flow breakeven.

Ken Allen

Cash flow breakeven for imported cement. There is not much capital involved as an importer for, just a [tunnels]. The tunnels are increasingly harder and harder to come by to, particularly in California. Yes sir.

Unidentified Audience Member

In your financial statements, you breakout CapEx by expansions, and then others, and so presumably, that's the California plants in expansion.

Ken Allen

Yes.

Unidentified Audience Member

And it's also that the Texas expansion…

Ken Allen

It is, but there isn't much spending. We haven't really invested much in the Texas plant yet today.

Unidentified Audience Member

So how much from let's say August 31,'07 until you are finished in California, how much more…?

Ken Allen

We're practically finished with it. Today, there isn't too much more to go. We haven't released any numbers for the second quarter, but we are pretty much finished with the spending.

Unidentified Audience Member

Alright. And then this expansion number would pretty much go to zero?

Ken Allen

Well, until we begin to spend and invest in the Texas plant.

Unidentified Audience Member

Okay, yeah.

Ken Allen

Yes, ma'am.

Unidentified Audience Member

[Question Inaudible]

Ken Allen

The question was, basically, what's the condition of our limestone quarries that we mine limestone to use in making cement?

Unidentified Audience Member

Regarding your quarries.

Ken Allen

Yes. They are our quarries, and we have at least 50 years of reserves in plant that extends to a 100 years, in one case. And Texas might be a little different than Pennsylvania, in terms of water. There might be a sense that we would like to have more ground water in Texas. I don't know, because it is a pretty arid area, and then out in California--we are in the desert out there. So we feel very good about our limestone capabilities, in the long-term, for that. Good question. Yes, sir

Unidentified Audience Member

[Question Inaudible]

Ken Allen

20%-25%

Unidentified Audience Member

[Question Inaudible]

Ken Allen

Oh, good question. Let me just talk about that in our markets, because I think that's the key. The question was, what other capacity additions are coming up. There are others throughout the United States, but let me just address Texas and California. In California, we are the only capacity expansion that has been announced.

If you broaden the market area to include Nevada and Arizona, there is one expansion in the arena that will be about a half million tons, and that's really outside of our market. Cal Portland is adding about a million tons to their existing plant and that's two to three years from now. And then Cemex has announced that they were pursuing permits for a Greenfield plant in Arizona, and so that's at least 2012.

In Texas, our two projects, which account for almost two million tons, and then Cemex is adding a million tons to their Central Texas plant, as well; and those are the additions that have been announced.

Unidentified Audience Member

[Question Inaudible]

Ken Allen

Before ours, within the next year or two, you are doing great.

Unidentified Audience Member

You've talked about the Texas expansion which adds potentially $50 million to $65 million EBITDA?

Ken Allen

Yes, $50 million of EBIT and $65 million are EBTIDA.

Unidentified Audience Member

(inaudible), is that just North Texas, or is it North Texas and Central Texas?

Ken Allen

Good question. That's just the Central Texas.

Unidentified Audience Member

Right.

Ken Allen

The 500,000 tons of production we expect to add through de-bottlenecking until you actually -- we know it will be a good margins, we just don't know exactly what that will be until we see the plant run. But, very conservatively, if you put a 30% EBIT margin on those tons, you would end up with a pretty nice return on that, as well.

Unidentified Audience Member

And have you announced, how much you are going to spend to expand in Central Texas?

Ken Allen

We haven't yet, because again its very project oriented; the question was how much do we expect to invest in de-bottlenecking that plant. No matter what the cost is there, it will be very low per ton basis, and something we want to.

Unidentified Audience Member

This is Central Texas?

Ken Allen

This is the North Texas plant, de-bottlenecking that we're talking about there -- 500,000 tons.

Unidentified Audience Member

But that Central Texas plant expansion, which seems to be quite substantial, and it's been adding [60], what is the cost….

Ken Allen

I am sorry, $325 million to $350 million. Good question. Other questions?

Thanks, again. We'll have the breakup session, as well. You'll happy to follow me end of that, if we go in just more detail, but thanks for your attention.

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