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Ormat Technologies (NYSE:ORA)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

May 09, 2012 9:00 am ET

Executives

Rob Fink - Account Director - Investor Relations

Yehudit Bronicki - Chief Executive Officer, Director, Chairman of Compensation Committee, Chief Executive Officer of Ormat Industries, President of Ormat Systems, General Manager of Ormat Industries and Director of Ormat Industries

Joseph Tenne - Chief Financial Officer, Principal Accounting Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Ormat Industries Ltd

Yoram Bronicki - President, Chief Operating Officer, Director and Director of Ormat Industries

Smadar Lavi -

Analysts

Daniel J. Mannes - Avondale Partners, LLC, Research Division

Gregg Orrill - Barclays Capital, Research Division

JinMing Liu - Ardour Capital Investments, LLC, Research Division

Mark Barnett - Morningstar Inc., Research Division

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the Ormat Technologies First Quarter 2012 Earnings Call. [Operator Instructions] Thank you. I would now like to turn the conference over to Mr. Rob Fink of KCSA Strategic Communications. Sir, you may begin your conference.

Rob Fink

Thank you very much. Hosting the call today are Dita Bronicki, Chief Executive Officer; Yoram Bronicki, President and Chief Operating Officer; Joseph Tenne, Chief Financial Officer; and Smadar Lavi, Vice President of Corporate Finance and Investor Relations. Before beginning, we would like to remind you that the information provided during this call may contain forward-looking statements relating to current expectations, estimates, forecasts and projections about future events that are forward-looking as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements generally relate to the company's plans, objectives and expectations for future operations, and are based on management's current estimates and projection of future results or trends. Actual future results may differ materially from those projected as a result of certain risks and uncertainties. For a discussion of such risks and uncertainties, please see risk factors as described in the company's annual report on Form 10-K filed with the SEC on February 29, 2012.

In addition, during this call, statements may include financial measures as defined as non-GAAP financial measures by the SEC, such as EBITDA. The presentation of financial information is not intended to be considered in isolation or as a substitute for financial information prepared and presented in accordance with GAAP. Management of Ormat Technology believes that adjusted EBITDA may provide meaningful supplemental information regarding liquidity measurements that both management and investors' benefit from referring to this non-GAAP financial measures in assessing Ormat Technologies' liquidity and when planning and forecasting future periods. This non-GAAP financial measure may also facilitate management's internal comparisons to the company's historical liquidity.

Before I turn the call over to management, I would like to remind everyone that the slide presentation accompanying this call may be accessed on the company's website at ormat.com under the IR Event and Presentations link that's found in the Investor Relations tab.

With all that said, I would now like to turn the call over to Dita. Dita, the call is yours.

Yehudit Bronicki

Thank you, Rob, and good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us today for the presentation for our first quarter 2012 results and outlook for the near future. We are very pleased with the financial results of the first quarter, which was strong by just about every measure. Total revenue increased 35% year-over-year to a record quarterly revenue with Electricity and Product segment revenues increasing 5% and 156%, respectively. Our combined gross margin percentage was 30.1% for the quarter, almost doubling our gross margin during the same quarter in 2011 and $41.9 million cash flow from operations, the highest pure operating cash flow ever. We believe the numbers are a testament to the prudent approach we have taken to growing our business, while also ensuring an effective cost control.

In the Product Segment, 2011 was a record year in booking of new orders. We continue to be awarded new contracts in the beginning of the year. We recorded record high revenues in Q1, thanks not only to the strength of the Product Segment, but to improved results in the Electricity segment as well. By reducing the operating cost to all the fleet, but in particular at North Brawley, results improved in all parameters, including gross margin, operating cash flow, net income and EBITDA.

Let me turn the call over to Joseph for a review of the financial. Yoram will review our operation. And following my remarks, we will open the call for Q&A. Joseph?

Joseph Tenne

Thank you, Dita, and good morning, everyone. Beginning in Slide 5, total revenues for the first quarter were $132.4 million, a 35.3% increase over revenues of $97.8 million in the first quarter of 2011. Total cost of revenues increased by 11.7% compared to last year.

In our Electricity segment on Slide 6, revenue for the first quarter of 2012 were $82.2 million, an increase of 5.1% over revenues of $78.3 million for the same quarter last year. The increase in Electricity revenues is due to higher variable energy rates of our Puna and Amatitlan PPAs and increased Electricity generation of some of our partners.

In the Product Segment on the next slide, revenues for the first quarter increased 156.3% from $19.6 million in the first quarter of 2011 to $50.1 million this year. The increase in product revenues reflects the new customer orders that we secured in 2011.

Moving to Slide 8. The company's combined gross margin for the first quarter was 30.1% versus 15.3% in the same quarter last year. The Electricity segment gross margin was 29.6% for the quarter versus 15.8% in Q1 2011. Excluding North Brawley, the Electricity segment's gross margin would have been 35.8% compared to 30.5% in 2011. In the Product Segment, gross margin for the first quarter was 30.9% versus 13.6% in the same quarter last year. The increase is due to higher revenues, the mix of products sold and different margins in the various sales contracts and it is also due to the revenues from the LNG project with no related cost of revenues.

Moving to Slide 9. Interest expense for the first quarter was $14.9 million compared to $13.1 million in 2011. The increase was principally due to the issuance of the OFC 2 Senior Secured Notes in October 2011 and the full quarter impact in 2012 of the senior unsecured bonds issued in February 2011.

Now moving on to Slide 10. Net income for the quarter was $8 million or $0.17 per share, basic and diluted, compared to a net loss of $9 million or $0.20 per share basic and diluted for the same quarter in 2011. As shown in the following slide, Slide 11, EBITDA for the first quarter of 2012 was $51.5 million compared to $27.2 million in the same quarter of 2011 and net cash provided by operating activity was $41.9 million compared to $13.1 million a year ago. The reconciliation of GAAP, as well as additional cash flow information is set forth in Slide 27.

Moving to the next slide. Cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities as of March 31, 2012, were $100.3 million, down from $118.4 million as of December 31, 2011. The accompanying slide breaks down the use of cash during the 3 months.

Our long-term debt at the end of the first quarter theme of the presentation and on the next slide, you can see our dividend policy and recent dividend declaration. On May 8, 2012, Ormat's Board of Directors approved a payment of quarterly dividend of $0.04 per share to send to the company's dividend policy, which targets an annual pay off ratio of at least 20% of the company's net income. The dividend will be paid on May 30 to shareholders of record as of closing of business on May 21. The company expects to pay a dividend of $0.04 per share in the next 2 quarters.

That concludes my financial overview. I would like now to turn the call to Yoram for an operational update.

Yoram Bronicki

Thank you, Joseph and good morning, everyone. Starting with Slide 16, the total generation in the first quarter 2012 was 1,040,000 megawatt hours. This represents an increase of 1.2% for the same quarter last year. The steady growth in total generation and a decrease in O&M expense excluding depreciation are a result of continued improvement in our operational performance, enhancement of existing plants and completion of new projects. On our last earnings call, we spent a fair amount of time discussing the impact that the Global Settlement and a decrease in the forecasted natural gas would have on our business in 2012 and 2013.

As a reminder, our fixed energy rate under the PPAs of Ormesa, Heber and Mammoth converted in the beginning of May to a variable rate that is driven by natural gas. Natural gas sub-prices and the forecast for future prices have been constantly dropping in the past year, and as a result, we may have to further reduce our revenue estimate for the year. While we continue to explore alternatives to offset the reductions in Electricity revenues, we do not think that we can do much to reduce the impact of this source of reduction in revenues in 2012, but we do expect some relief in 2013.

Furthermore,, operational changes that were successfully implemented in the past 2 years through technical changes, capital investment and improvements to our supply chain will lessen the impact of the reduction in rates on the overall results of the company. Another area where we have continued to make progress is the reduction of operating expenses in North Brawley. The first quarter continues the trend of reduction in the cost to operate the plant and the increase in the production pump life. Generation was increased compared to the fourth quarter of 2011 and we expect it to increase further with the addition of our latest producer.

In April, we entered into 2 swap contracts with a bank to reduce the fluctuations of revenue from Puna, for the period from May 2012 until March 31, 2013. The contracts which do not have upfront cost have monthly settlement, whereby the difference between the fixed price and the monthly average price will be settled on a cash basis. These contracts will not be accounted for as a hedge transaction and will be mark-to-market with the corresponding gains or losses, which will be recognized within the Electricity revenues.

For an update on projects under construction, please turn to Slide 19. In the table, you can see the status and expected completion schedule for each project under construction. We are progressing as planned with the construction of the McGinness Hills project in the Olkaria III expansion. In Mammoth, we have not yet received the construction permit and this will delay the execution of the project. In Wild Rose, 3 wells have been drilled and we are continuing with drilling activity. At Heber Solar, construction began in the fourth quarter 2011 and we expect commercial operation in 2013. In Carson Lake, we have recently resumed the drilling activity. Overall, we're in the construction phase of 7 projects that will add between 144 and 149 megawatt to our portfolio. Four of these projects are expected to be completed by the end of 2013.

On Slide 20, you can see the detailed list of projects under development that we continue to work on. Turning to Slide 21. In addition to the projects under construction and development, we now have 40 prospects in early exploration or activities yet to begin.

Turning on to Slide 22 for an update on the product segment. 2011 was an exceptionally strong year for the Product Segment and we continue to make progress in the first quarter 2012. We signed new international and domestic contracts for the supply of geothermal power plants and other power generating units. As of May 8, 2012, our product backlog is at approximately $207 million. It includes revenue for the period between April 1 and May 8, 2012.

In the first quarter, we were awarded a build down transfer project -- build-operate-transfer project by the Geothermal Development Company in Kenya, and as announced a couple of weeks ago we won a $61.2 million EPC contract. While this contract is currently under negotiation, we have entered into a $9 million interim agreement with the customer until the full EPC contract is signed. In the backlog, we included only $9 million out of the new EPC contract.

I'd now like to turn the call back over to Dita.

Yehudit Bronicki

Thank you, Yoram. In my remarks, I would like to comment on the recent transaction involving shares of Ormat Industries, the parent of Ormat Technologies. Review of first quarter include with revenue guidance for 2012 before opening the call up for questions.

In March 2012, FIMI, a private equity fund and approximately 10% shareholder in Ormat Industries entered into an agreement to buy close to 12% of Ormat Industries' shares from Bronicki Investment. As a result of this sale, after the closing, which is expected by the end of May, FIMI and Bronicki Investments each will own about 22.5% of the outstanding shares of Ormat Industries. I will continue to be the CEO of the company. Yoram will continue to be President and COO and a representative of FIMI, Gillon Beck, a senior partner in FIMI will be Chairman of the Board.

We have continued to actively obtain financing to secure our growth. Most recently in April, we will seek a $13.8 million cash bond related to our Puna complex under Section 16 of [indiscernible] of the IRRA [ph]. And earlier, in September 2011, we signed a commitment letter with OPIC to ask $310 million to finance and expand the Olkaria III complex located in Kenya. The negotiation with OPIC are ongoing and we are currently [indiscernible] the documentation.

Please turn to Slide 24 where you will see the CapEx requirements for 2012. For the remainder of 2012, we plan to invest $146 million in construction of new projects and an additional $34 million for development of new projects. We expect also to invest $24 million in explorations in 2012. In addition, our capital expenditure budget for maintenance CapEx and enhancement for operating power plants is approximately $63 million. The enhancement CapEx include investments in Heber, Jersey Valley and Tuscarora. Approximately $5 million are budgeted for investment in our production facility. The funding of this program will come from cash on hand at the end of the third quarter 2012, cash from operations, unused corporate lines of credit, ITC cash grants and project finance dates.

Turning to Slide 25, you can see our revenue forecast for 2012. We currently expect our 2012 product revenue to be $165 million to $175 million. We are maintaining our Electricity forecast of $315 million to $330 million. The wider range is due to the uncertainty around natural gas prices.

Before I finish my prepared remarks, I would like to announce that we will be hosting an Analyst Day in New York next month on June 13 that will be webcast-ed for the benefit of all shareholders. I encourage our analysts and investors who are interested in attending to contact us directly or KCSA Strategic Communications, our Investor Relations firm for more information.

In closing, we made significant progress in the first quarter of 2012 and I'm extremely pleased with our financial results. Our investing portfolio benefited from improved operating efficiency. New orders are increasing our Product Segment revenue and we move forward with strong fundamentals in the backlog in excess of $200 million. I would like to thank you for your support.

And at this time, I would like to open the call for questions. Operator?

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Your first question comes from the line of Daniel Mannes with Avondale.

Daniel J. Mannes - Avondale Partners, LLC, Research Division

A couple of follow-ups. First, and I think you may have gone over this, can you tell us what was either the operating loss or EBITDA contribution, positive or negative, for North Brawley in the quarter?

Yoram Bronicki

It was still a slightly negative EBITDA number, about $1.5 million negative, great improvement over previous numbers.

Daniel J. Mannes - Avondale Partners, LLC, Research Division

Got it. And then quickly Tuscarora, is that now selling commercially or are you still in start-up there?

Yoram Bronicki

We are not looking at it operationally, the plant is not in start-up mode anymore. There are some administrative issues that we need to work with our off taker for it to move into the commercial operation phase and we hope that, that will not be too long.

Daniel J. Mannes - Avondale Partners, LLC, Research Division

Any new commentary on Sarulla? We got to ask every quarter right?

Yoram Bronicki

It's a question for Dita, not for me.

Yehudit Bronicki

No one wants to take it, Daniel. Sarulla is making slow progress but nothing to tell about. [indiscernible] I hope this, still in our lifetime, we'll be able to announce it.

Daniel J. Mannes - Avondale Partners, LLC, Research Division

I mean in your text it still is indicative that you were hoping that look like a closing in the second quarter or in the first half of this year. Does that still hold or are you hinting that may be already be drifting into the latter part?

Yehudit Bronicki

Not the closing, but the timing of further contract that will lead to the financial profit [ph]. As we look at the signing of the agreement this year closing about a year later.

Daniel J. Mannes - Avondale Partners, LLC, Research Division

Got it. Real quick on the California contracts. I definitely heard Yoram's comments there being difficult to manage 2012. Can you talk maybe a little bit about the $25 million decline that you noted before. How has gas prices changed since you gave that data and I don't know if you can also give us any color on 2013, the impact on the GHG credit? Can you just sort of update us on both of those topics?

Yoram Bronicki

Yes. So it's a moving target. Gas has been fluctuating. I mean the issue is not so much the gas has been fluctuating but our estimate or the forecast on what the futures would be have been fluctuating and I think we did we reran the analysis in mid-April, which I think is when gas was at its lowest or close to that. And the impact at that point was about another $8 million in reduction in revenues in 2012. Since then gas rebound some. I think that it recovered by, I think, 20%, increased by 20% from that calculation. So it's a very -- I mean, as a calculation, it's easy to do but it's somewhat meaningless. And therefore, we offer a wide range in terms of our revenue estimates. We anticipate that there would be the adder -- the greenhouse gas adder in 2013 which would be a substantial -- I mean, a nice addition to the rate itself. This is our understanding, but that's all that we know. I mean if you'd like, it's an assumption or an estimate at this point. I don't know. I don't know, whether there is -- there are things that could change.

Daniel J. Mannes - Avondale Partners, LLC, Research Division

So the $25 million, did that get you to the midpoint of '12? And secondly the $25 million for 13, did that include the greenhouse gas adder or not?

Yoram Bronicki

Yes, it is the 2013 assessment included the greenhouse gas adder -- and I'm sorry, Dan, what was the first question?

Daniel J. Mannes - Avondale Partners, LLC, Research Division

The $25 million for 2012, did that get you to the midpoint of the range or is that the lower end of guidance?

Yoram Bronicki

I believe that -- you know what, Smadar can jump in.

Smadar Lavi

Dan, if we look at the natural gas prices that we had when we calculated January impact, they are very similar to what we have in the last 2 days. Maybe today it's at 5% to 6% lower but you know [indiscernible] fluctuations, we see it every day and we cannot say that's the bottom but say what it looks now and we see the trends in the last 2 weeks, we hope that we will see higher rates and the 25 will be the low end.

Daniel J. Mannes - Avondale Partners, LLC, Research Division

Okay. And then one last question and I'll let someone else jump in. Your capital expenditures, it looks like they've changed a bit. I think you were $367 million for the year as of 12/31. You spent about $60 million in the quarter and you're now down to $270 million. Did you cut out from development spending and maybe replace it elsewhere or can you talk a little bit about maybe a change in your planned spending for this year?

Yoram Bronicki

Well, there are some -- there's nothing that is dramatic, but there are some modification like the fact that we haven't got the permits to expand Mammoth at this point. It's -- obviously we adjust our CapEx plan accordingly. So I think that this is for the -- really for the most part, probably Mammoth is the biggest change besides CapEx that went into, that was contemplated in different exploration program and based on priorities and other findings we made modifications to this. So these are a few million dollars here and there, but not a big impact on the program itself.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Gregg Orrill with Barclays.

Gregg Orrill - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Just getting back to the new rate on Ormesa, Heber and Mammoth, how often is the rate reset? And is there a sensitivity that you might be able to provide to gas prices, EBITDA to gas prices?

Yoram Bronicki

So the rate will be calculated constantly. It's driven by the short run of what it cost. I'm sorry, Dita, you want to...

Yehudit Bronicki

Thinking about it when we had the earlier dialogue on gas prices, we will put there something for the Analyst Day so that we can share with everybody. I realize that it's something we need to do. We don't have it handy. We will do it for the Analyst Day, which is in about a month, so not a long time to wait. And we will be able to provide more transparency there.

Gregg Orrill - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Okay. Also on the O&M expenses per megawatt hour, down to $35 from $41 in Q1 '11 How much of that related to North Brawley?

Yoram Bronicki

Brawley had -- probably had a significant impact. Give me a second. I can probably give you just a rough indication.

Yehudit Bronicki

Let's move on then we'll get back.

Smadar Lavi

Yoram, do you want to take it?

Yoram Bronicki

Smadar, I think we don't want to give a precise answer but to give just a directional answer, Gregg, even at our other facilities I think that we had at least a 10% improvement in our operating expenses outside of Brawley. So in general, although Brawley had a big impact, we see better performance out of the combined fleet even excluding Brawley.

Gregg Orrill - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Is that something that we could -- those expense reductions, is that for the rest of the fleet? Has that leveled off or are you continuing other initiatives there that could push it down further?

Yoram Bronicki

Clearly, this is what we need to do. We need to continue and look at ways to operate more efficiently, leverage our buying power, improve design of equipment that is more troublesome -- or not troublesome, but more expensive to operate. There's always an element, there's an element of good fortune and bad luck and this. When you have a failure of a major piece of equipment. And it does happen on fleet by car, then it does the cost to operate may spike up during that quarter. So part of what we see is clearly sustainable and is based on improvement in how we do things. Part of what we see is that we have a very good quarter. But as our fleet grows, the opportunities to combine for permanent leverage, our buying power, that's very substantial. Our expansion that is done by, if you like, areas of influence, so expanding into eastern Nevada and pretty soon having 3 power plants operate from that location with shared resources, these are all things that would allow. And of course, expanding Olkaria again in the same location. These are all areas that will drive our overall cost per negota [ph] are down. And these are all positive trends.

Operator

Your next question from the lines of JinMing Liu with Ardour Capital.

JinMing Liu - Ardour Capital Investments, LLC, Research Division

First of all just some follow-up questions on North Brawley. What was the effective capacity for North Brawley in first quarter and what is your expectation for production for North Brawley in the coming quarters?

Yoram Bronicki

So we do not provide forecast on future generation. The ramp-up is something that we have decided we will do very gradually as we find more indications on which wells are better to operate and what are the prudent operating schemes. So I cannot offer this to you. The number, the average number for the quarter or the number for the quarter was somewhere between 20 and 22 megawatts in terms of average production. It's a little low because we have connected a new well, a newly drilled well later in the quarter. So the first part was still a little low. And then as we said on our presentation a little earlier, another well that we believe is very successful has just been connected. So this will drive the generation up and so that we expect better results than the 20 to 22 megawatt that we had in the first quarter.

JinMing Liu - Ardour Capital Investments, LLC, Research Division

And regarding the swap contract you entered for the Puna facility. Should I just, for modeling purpose, should I use the crude oil price in the first quarter as a benchmark for the future periods?

Yoram Bronicki

Yes, within the limitations of variables, but I think that that's good.

Yehudit Bronicki

And amount of outage adjustments.

JinMing Liu - Ardour Capital Investments, LLC, Research Division

Okay. Got that. Lastly is -- my question is for the total take projects you have. Are those projects ready to contribute for revenue sometime beyond 2013?

Yoram Bronicki

I mean there's the one that is actively in construction, which is at Heber.

JinMing Liu - Ardour Capital Investments, LLC, Research Division

Yes, that's built in California but I'm a little bit [indiscernible] there's 166 megawatts.

Yoram Bronicki

So yes, the one that is currently in construction we expect to complete in 2013, so we may see some revenue in 2013. The rest of the projects are not yet in construction and therefore, I think that it's prudent to say it will be post-2013. Although there could be good surprises there because these projects are, once you have all the permitting in place, all the approvals will be on line very quickly. That trouble is that we don't -- or not the trouble but the difficulty in forecasting, when would they come online is that we don't have all the approvals yet and the visibility on how long it would take to get them is not very good. But as soon as some of them move into actual construction, we will provide a more detailed forecast on when we can see revenue stream.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Your next question comes from the line of Mark Barnett with Morningstar.

Mark Barnett - Morningstar Inc., Research Division

Just a couple of quick questions. Can you provide maybe an update on operations and output at Jersey Valley?

Yoram Bronicki

There's nothing major to update on Jersey Valley. We're looking at drilling additional injection. We're working on the permitting, on targeting. I believe that nothing dramatic happened. In this quarter and it's all work in preparation. The plant is running well at lower capacity of course, than desired, but it's running well. And as we find more injection, we will ramp up production as well.

Mark Barnett - Morningstar Inc., Research Division

In your revenue guidance for the year, is there some flexibility around maybe bringing on some new capacity at that plant or what are you projecting in the guidance as it is today?

Yoram Bronicki

The impact of Jersey on the revenue is very small. We have taken a conservative approach when we did the original guidance, which is no ramp-up of Jersey at all, but it's not substantial. And I think that that's certainly the way to look at this. We certainly want the plant to be as close to capacity as possible and we'll work hard to do so, but the impact on overall revenue is not huge.

Mark Barnett - Morningstar Inc., Research Division

Okay. And just one quick further question on the solar capacity figures, just down a little bit. Detail on maybe a project that you no longer hope to pursue or how are those moving around?

Yehudit Bronicki

The solar activity needs to be divided in order to understand it into 2 groups. One is the project that is actually under construction, the 10-megawatt project in the Imperial Valley. This one is moving along and we expect it to be online in 2013. The other Israeli projects, all of them, and they are still subject to regulatory approval. So while some of them are more advanced and some of them are less advanced, none of them have full regulatory approval. So it's more difficult to predict how many of them and when they will be in construction. Clearly, some of them will reach construction phase soon, but how many is hard to predict.

Operator

At this time, there are no further questions. I now turn the floor over to Dita for closing remarks.

Yehudit Bronicki

There are not really closing remarks. We are very happy with the quarter. We look forward to a very good year and to a continued cooperation with all of you. Thank you for your interest in the company and bye-bye.

Operator

Thank you for joining today's conference call. You may disconnect your lines at this time.

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