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Executives

James Unger – President and CEO

Dale Davies – SVP, CFO and Treasurer

Jim Cowan – EVP and COO

Analysts

John Barnes – BB&T Capital Markets

Joe Box – KeyBanc

Barry Hans [ph] – Safe Asset Management [ph]

Paul Bodnar – Longbow Research

Dennis Savo [ph]

Art Hatfield – Morgan Keegan

Phyllis Kamera [ph] – Pax World Funds

Steve Barger – KeyBanc

American Railcar Industries, Inc. (ARII) Q2 2008 Earnings Call Transcript August 7, 2008 10:00 AM ET

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the second quarter 2008 American Railcar Industries earnings conference call. My name is Karassa and I will be your coordinator for today. (Operator instructions) I would now like to turn the presentation over to your host for today's call, Mr. James Unger, President and CEO. Please proceed.

James Unger

Good morning. I’d like to welcome all of those on the call as well as our audio webcast listeners today. For all of those who are interested, a replay of this broadcast will also be available on our website at www.americanrailcar.com beginning shortly after this call ends. I’m Jim Unger, the Chief Executive Officer of American Railcar. And with me this morning are Jim Cowan, our Chief Operating Officer, and Dale Davies, our Chief Financial Officer.

We will open the call today with a brief prepared statement related to the company’s 2008 second quarter financial results. After that, we will make a few comments on the status of our operations and comment on events important to ARI. Following these remarks we will open the conference to your questions.

But first, let me introduce our new CFO, Dale Davies. Dale was appointed CFO for American Railcar this past June. Prior to becoming CFO, Dale was our Vice President of Finance for the past three years, and prior to joining ARI, Dale held various financial management positions with two well-respected St. Louis-based manufacturing and research companies, Solutia Inc. and Monsanto Company. Dale, would you being the conference with a review of the financial results for the second quarter.

Dale Davies

Thank you, Jim. It’s my pleasure to present our 2008 second quarter financial results. Before we get started, let me remind everyone that today’s conference call contains forward-looking statements including statements as to estimates, expectations, intentions and predictions of future financial performance. Participants are directed to the American Railcar Industries’ SEC filings and press releases for a description of certain business issues and risks, a change in any one of which could cause actual results or outcomes to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements. Also please note that the company does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements made during the call.

And now for the financial report. The second quarter of 2008 certainly had its challenges. A very competitive railcar market, weak demand from a slowing economy and rapidly escalating raw material costs have all contributed to a difficult operating environment. Considering these challenges, we are pleased with the financial results that we have reported for the quarter.

Railcar shipments were the second highest for a quarter in the company’s history, behind the second quarter of 2007. Shipments for the quarter were strong as a result of increased tank railcar shipments due to the additional tank railcar capacity, which came on stream in late 2007 and early 2008. But partially offsetting the increase was lower shipments of hopper cars due to weak demand and competition and market.

Consolidated revenues were $204 million for the second quarter of 2008, up 11% sequentially, but down 2% from the record revenues of the second quarter of 2007. Revenues for the manufacturing segment were up 12% sequentially, but down 3% from the second quarter of 2007. Railcar services segment continued to demonstrate steady growth with revenues up 3% sequentially and 3% above the same quarter of 2007. To support faster growth of the railcar services business, we have recently initiated significant capacity expansion projects for our railcar repair business.

ARI delivered a total of 2,077 railcars in the second quarter of 2008, a 9% increase from the 1,902 railcars delivered in the first quarter of 2008, but an 8% decrease from the record 2,268 railcars delivered in the second quarter of 2007. During the second quarter of 2008, we increased tank railcar shipments from our Marmaduke, Arkansas railcar complex as a result of the increase in capacity from the new production line at that facility. We also shipped tank railcars produced under our manufacturing agreement with ACF Industries.

Gross profit decreased in the second quarter of 2008 by $2 million or 8% sequentially and decreased by $5 million or 20% when compared to the second quarter of 2007. A weak railcar market and competitive market conditions resulted in lower volume and decreased margins for a significant portion of our hopper railcar shipments. Our manufacturing gross margins for the second quarter of 2008 were 9% versus 12% in the first quarter of 2008 and 12% in the second quarter of 2007. We continue to focus on cost management at our railcar manufacturing facilities to work through this difficult market.

EBITDA for the quarter was $18 million, down $6 million sequentially and down $4 million from the second quarter of 2007. The decreases when compared to both the first quarter of 2008 and the second quarter of 2007 were attributable primarily to decreased profit in our manufacturing operations, partially offset by lower stock-based compensation expense. The decrease in EBITDA in the second quarter of 2008 was impacted by a $2 million unrealized loss related to investments and derivative securities that referenced the common stock of the Greenbrier Companies, Inc.

In the first quarter of 2008, a $3.1 million of unrealized gain was recorded related to this investment. Partially offsetting the $2 million unrealized loss for the second quarter of 2008 was a $1 million realized gain on the sale of a portion of the company’s investment in common stock of the Greenbrier Companies.

Net earnings attributable to common shareholders for the quarter were $6 million or $0.29 per diluted share, a decrease of $4 million or $0.18 per diluted share when compared to the first quarter of 2008 and a decrease of $5 million or $0.22 per diluted share when compared to the second quarter of 2007. Earnings for the current quarter included a $1 million or $0.03 per diluted share gain on the sale of Greenbrier stock, offset by an after-tax unrealized loss of $2 million or $0.07 per diluted share, attributed to our investment in derivative securities that referenced the Greenbrier Companies’ common stock.

Earnings for the first quarter included an after-tax unrealized gain of $2 million or $0.09 per diluted share related to the same derivative securities. Also contributing to the decline in the second quarter net earnings was an increase in net interest expense driven primarily by lower interest rates and lower average cash balances.

For the six months ended June 30, 2008, consolidated revenues were $389 million, down 2% from the six months ended June 30, 2007. Manufacturing revenues were down 3% when compared to 2007, primarily due to the competitive hopper railcar market, partially offset by strong tank railcar shipments. Revenues for railcar services were up 5% over the first six months of 2007. Net earnings attributable to common shareholders for the first six months of 2008 were $16 million or $0.77 per diluted share, a decrease of $8 million or $0.38 per diluted share compared to the same period of 2007.

EBITDA for the six months ended June 30, 2008 was $42 million versus $47 million for the six months ended June 30, 2007. EBITDA and net earnings for 2008 were impacted by lower gross profit in our manufacturing operations, partially offset by gains from the sale of Greenbrier stock and lower stock-based compensation expense. EBITDA is a non-GAAP financial measure that is reconciled to our net earnings in our press release, which was issued yesterday. Press release is available through the Investor Relations page of our website.

Let me now ask Jim Cowan, our COO, to comment about the status of our plant operations.

Jim Cowan

Thank you, Dale. The management team is excited about the future for our railcar manufacturing facilities as we continue to experience strong efficiencies at our existing facilities and our major cost reduction and expansion projects are beginning to deliver benefits. As Dale previously mentioned, shipments for the quarter from our Paragould Hopper railcar facility were lower in 2008 compared to 2007 due to lower demand and increased competition within the hopper railcar market.

Our management team has done a good job of managing our overhead costs and improving efficiencies during this period of lower price and volume. Another factor impacting our 2008 results was the substantial price increases for steel plate, steel coil, and steel components. The cost to purchase steel raw materials had increased rapidly this year and we have able to recover most of these cost increases through increased selling prices.

With the exception of one fixed priced order, our backlog has orders with provisions for recovering raw material price increases through increased selling prices. Our purchasing group has done an excellent job of securing steel and components at prices that we believe will result in shipments for our fixed priced order at break even or better. Once this order is complete, we have the ability to recover material cost increases for all other orders in the backlog.

We have a number of capital projects that we expect to complete in 2008 that should improve manufacturing efficiencies and provide other cost reductions. We continue to make good progress to further integrate our supply chain by investing in equipment to in-source key component manufacturing. Our new wheel and axle mounting shops started production in February of this year and we expect our new tank head press in Marmaduke, Arkansas to be in production later this month.

These facilities should provide significant cost savings through production efficiencies and free cost reductions as well as reduced inventory levels. In June 2008, we entered into an agreement with Amtek Auto Limited, an Indian company, to form a joint venture to build and manufacture at a facility in India and sell and supply freight railcars and other components in India and other countries to be named.

We expect construction of this facility to begin during the later part of 2008 and production and delivery of our first orders could begin in the fourth quarter of 2009. We are excited to join the strong management team of Amtek to build railcars in India. We believe Amtek’s depth of manufacturing experience and knowledge of Indian markets support our partnership’s short and long-term perspectives for growth within India.

Back in Arkansas, we expect to start production at the axle manufacturing plant being built by our joint venture Axis, LLC during the fourth quarter of this year. We are excited about the cost savings forecast for this joint venture, resulting in lower costs for a major component that we use for all of our railcars.

At this time, let me turn the meeting back to Jim Unger, our CEO, to make a few comments on our results and other matters important to ARI.

James Unger

Thank you, Jim. We had a strong second quarter in spite of the competitive hopper railcar market. Our railcar backlog declined during the second quarter at June 30, 2008 was 8,219 railcars or $689 million. As we have mentioned before, industry pricing remains highly competitive indicating challenging railcar market. We do not have any indication as to when this market environment will improve. When the market does strengthen, we believe that with our new flexible railcar plant as well as our capabilities at our other railcar manufacturing plants, we will be able to take orders for several different railcar types and adapt to the rising market demand when it occurs.

With rising fuel prices, rail is still a very efficient mode of transportation and we are motivated to position ARI well for growth when demand improves. To support our current business and to grow for the future, we have continued to invest in the company. During the six months ended June 30, 2008, we invested $24 million towards capital projects to expand capacity, reduce cost, and improve efficiencies. This included 2008 spending to complete the new plant at Marmaduke, the new wheel and axle assembly shop, and the new tank head press that Jim mentioned earlier.

Other major projects currently underway include our investment in the Axis joint venture and the vertical integration of our parts and fabrication capabilities. We also have begun funding significant growth in our railcar repair network this year, with expansion of our mechanical shops and adding to our capacity to paint and line railcars. In addition to our recent India joint venture with Amtek, our management team has also invested considerable time and effort in developing relations and investigating similar joint venture opportunities in both the Ukraine and Russia. We believe that a good market exists for freight railcars in these countries and we will pursue potential joint venture opportunities in the Ukraine and Russia markets.

As I’ve previously reported, we have designed and built intermodal freight cars and our cars are in service and performing to our expectations. In addition, we have under construction a rotary dump aluminum coal car, which should be completed next month and put into rail service under an agreement we have consummated with a large utility user. We expect to complete bottom discharge aluminum coal car by year-end and similarly expect to have it in service after completion. As you can see, we have been aggressively expanding our product offering and geographic footprint to be able to take advantage of wider range of products in the railcar business.

We will now take a few of your questions. Operator, would you please explain to our guests how they can register their questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

(Operator instructions) Your first question comes from the line of Mr. John Barnes from BB&T Capital Markets. Please proceed.

John Barnes – BB&T Capital Markets

Good morning. I just got in from the West Coast, so I got on a few minutes late. But I just wanted to ask you a couple questions about what you’ve heard from some of your competitors. Can you just give us an idea of kind of what you are seeing in terms of average selling price on the cars? Obviously, there haven’t been a lot of orders out there in the marketplace. Are you seeing a greater degree of competition than you expected or is it about what you would have expected given the lack of orders?

James Unger

I think it’s about what we expected given the lack of orders. And prices had been very competitive. They have been holding steady, John. We are getting a lot of inquiries for budgetary quotes at this time, whether they materialize into orders or they are just for budget purposes, but we are seeing activity out there for quotes.

John Barnes – BB&T Capital Markets

Okay. And can you talk a little bit about your contract – your order mix right now? I mean, are you exposed to fixed price contracts at all? And if so, kind of what percentage of your business might be at risk with no – kind of no escalators on steel or other costs?

James Unger

As Jim had mentioned, we have one contract currently production subject to fixed price contract. It’s less than 10% of our business. We don’t anticipate any exposure there. At worst, we figure a breakeven on that contract. We have been producing for the last two or three months under that contract. So we think we are protected. And we have not booked anything in reserve for shipments. The contract will run out by the end of the year, but we feel we are protected.

John Barnes – BB&T Capital Markets

Okay. And the order activity that you are seeing in the marketplace, can you just break that down for us in terms of kind of the end customer type, and I’m not asking for names, but is it kind of the normal orders coming in by customer type, or have you seen a shift and there's people being a little bit more aggressive trying to take advantage of the weakness? Or – and then could you talk a little bit by car type, the bid activity? Just give us some feel for what kind of car types are you seeing the majority of the bid activity in?

James Unger

What we are seeing is a lot of activity are requests from shippers, the end user, not so much the leasing companies. And leasing companies probably have a full book or they have got some surplus cars out there they are trying to place. But we see a lot of specialty car tax, particularly in the hopper car and the tank car. Specialty commodity cars, which we have very good ability to manufacture, that’s kind of our real niche in the marketplace. Because of our quality and our experience in manufacturing of tanks and hoppers, we can build those specialty cars at some fair margins. And we are seeing activity there, and again as I mentioned, we are seeing a lot of budgetary quotes for the beginning of ’09. And that’s pretty much a broad spectrum of your general service type tank and hopper.

John Barnes – BB&T Capital Markets

Okay. And last thing, and I’ll turn it over. The ownership of the securities associated with GBX, and obviously it was a big contributor last quarter, it was a bit of a headwind this quarter, not that I included in my operating results. But I’m just kind of curious as to what do you anticipate the timing is to unwind the position? Is that your intention to completely unwind it? Could you just give us an update there?

James Unger

The Investment Committee meets regularly, and we discuss what we should do with that stock; hold it, add to it, or sell it? And we’ll announce appropriately in our filings when we decide them to make a move.

John Barnes – BB&T Capital Markets

Okay, very good. Nice quarter guys. Thanks for you time.

Operator

The next question comes from the line of Steve Barger from KeyBanc. Please proceed.

Joe Box – KeyBanc

Hi, good morning guys. This is actually Joe Box calling in for Steve.

James Unger

Hi, Joe.

Joe Box – KeyBanc

Can you just give us a sense maybe for your expected production schedule for the remaining 8,200 cars that you have in your backlog?

James Unger

Yes. I would say production schedule for the balance of the year, third, fourth quarter, would be similar to what we’ve done for the second quarter. Similar mix, similar margins.

Joe Box – KeyBanc

Okay. And despite the decline in covered hopper prices, you actually year-over-year and sequentially had an increase in average car prices. Was that primarily related to a greater mix of tank car shipments or is that more raw material recovery?

James Unger

Greater tank car shipments and raw material prices have significantly increased.

Joe Box – KeyBanc

Okay. And last question for here. How should we think about the gross margins for the back half of 2008? Taking into account, weak covered hopper demand and pricing, potentially rising raw materials, but yet offset by some of your internal margin expansion programs that you have?

James Unger

I think you are going to see similar margins relatively what we’ve run – close to what we’ve run in the second quarter.

Joe Box – KeyBanc

Thank you.

Operator

The next question comes from the line of Mr. Barry Hans [ph] from Safe Asset Management [ph]. Please proceed.

Barry Hans – Safe Asset Management

Good morning. I just had a follow-up on the fixed price contract. You covered most of the ground there, but when you said it was less than 10% of the business, where you referring to less than 10% of backlog? That’s the first question. And then second, it sounds like that order is principally being produced in the second, third, and the fourth quarters? And is it roughly evenly split between those three quarters or is there – just kind of get a sense of how much in each of those quarters? Thank you.

James Unger

Evenly split and it’s less than 10% of our backlog.

Barry Hans – Safe Asset Management

Great. Thank you very much.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Paul Bodnar from Longbow Research. Please proceed.

Paul Bodnar – Longbow Research

Good morning gentlemen. Question just on the coal cars, you said you – this week I guess you are going to have one going to service in the end of the year. What kind of timing is associated with actually getting those first into service and then actually seeing substantial order activity for those car types and historically how was that played out?

James Unger

We are putting into service we plan on, anticipate in September putting their first car in service. We did not have through testing. It’s an existing design car we’ve built. We have signed a lease agreement with a major utility to put it in its fleet. We have the material order to begin the construction of the bottom discharge car, which should be completed by year-end and similarly have it in service. The car design has been proven. So it's just operating performance measured by the user and we’ll be able to quote delivery of those cars to be constructed beginning in ’09.

Paul Bodnar – Longbow Research

So (inaudible) six months where they kind of use it for six months, then maybe it’s for general order for 500,000 cars or something like that, or is–?

James Unger

Could be. If they have an interest in placing orders, but we will be in the market. We will be ready to quote for ’09. As we’ve mentioned earlier, both our plants at Paragould and Marmaduke have new production lines or third lines that are capable of producing any car type. We’ve been investing considerable time and energy, our engineering department, on developing intermodal and coal cars. We want a broader spectrum of product and we have a rich history that goes back over 100 years from affiliated companies. I might remind the investors we’ve got several thousand cars in operation, steel coal cars that we designed and built several years ago. We have experience in those markets in building those cars.

Paul Bodnar – Longbow Research

Okay. And then secondly as a follow-up with India, one, what kind of capacity do you think that that’s going to end up having from your cars? And secondly, I mean, a little more detail on the Russia, Ukrainian market expansion opportunities?

James Unger

India, we are planning on building a facility that can deliver 2,000 cars that can be readily expanded to 4,000 cars very quickly, similar to what we’ve done at Paragould. The Russian/Ukrainian market in your question, that market size is similar to North America. You’ve got very old antiquated designs, and you have a lot of cars that are in disrepair. And the estimates are very large as to what the car build is going to be over the next five to ten years.

Paul Bodnar – Longbow Research

And then at this point, are you still looking for potential joint venture partners, or where are you at there?

James Unger

That’s correct. We’ve talked to several different groups as we did in India. And we hope to have something to move on that in fairly short order.

Paul Bodnar – Longbow Research

And then as I look at your cash balance, it’s so (inaudible). I mean, is that one of the potential plans for deploying that additional capital, or do you have anything else you are also looking at?

James Unger

Yes. No, we would deploy that capital in international ventures. And if you look at what we’ve got going now, are joint ventures. Because of the accounting rules, all of the start-up expenses, we are incurring – we are booking as we incur – expensing the Axis joint venture on the axle, the Indian joint venture, similarly if we do a joint venture in Russia/Ukraine, we will be expensing those two current operations and absorbing it in expenses. So, the cash reserve we’ve got, we’ll use to continue to fund those ventures as well as look for opportunities to invest in the United States, either within our industry or outside our industry.

Paul Bodnar – Longbow Research

Outside the industry what would you look at right now?

James Unger

We’d focus on the energy markets.

Paul Bodnar – Longbow Research

So maybe it would be essentially something in that Wind Towers area, would that be something you would look at?

James Unger

That’s a possibility.

Paul Bodnar – Longbow Research

Thanks. Appreciate it.

Operator

The next question comes from the line of Art Hatfield from Morgan Keegan. Please proceed.

Art Hatfield – Morgan Keegan

Good morning, Jim.

James Unger

Good morning, Art. Hello? Hello?

Operator

Mr. Keegan [ph], please press star one to ask a question. We have Dennis Savo [ph]. Please proceed.

Dennis Savo

Thank you for taking the question. I apologize if this has been asked before, what percent of the backlog do you expect to be delivered towards the later half or back half of 2008?

James Unger

In the last half of 2008, we are going to have about half.

Dennis Savo

50%. Okay, thank you.

Operator

We have Mr. Art Hatfield for a follow question.

Art Hatfield – Morgan Keegan

Am I working this time?

Operator

Yes.

James Unger

It seem to be, Art.

Art Hatfield – Morgan Keegan

Okay, thanks. As we look at ’09, what needs to happen for things to change? Rail volumes in the industry kind of remain flattish to slightly down. Trends with backlogs across the board for cars seem to be indicating that we could have a difficult year next year. What can you tell us about that and should our expectations be that maybe ’09 is the bottom of this cycle?

James Unger

Well, I think your chemical industry and food industry supports tank cars. They will be relatively stable. Okay?

Art Hatfield – Morgan Keegan

Okay.

James Unger

The hopper car markets, the big drivers there, grains, foods, cements, I think those will continue to be moderate. You see increased shipments of grains. So there will be continued demand in those markets, especially hoppers. We expect that to pick up easily. In downturns and tough markets, shippers are still in the need to replace equipment and they look to these specialized hopper cars. We see some strength there. The weakness will continue, we see, in plastic pellet markets until we see a rebound in automotive and housing, which depending on which economist you listen to could be mid ’09 to mid 2010. Coal, forecasters are saying in ’09 we should see some pickup. That will attribute greatly to the builders because you will have three people that will potentially build that car and we’ll be able to put some orders in their backlog. When you look at intermodal, that’s an existing market.

It’s got a surplus of cars. However, it’s still growing. They are going to need that. Those cars are going to be needed in the future. So until those surpluses are used up, we don’t see any order activity. But we would expect something in late ’09 there.

Art Hatfield – Morgan Keegan

Okay. Okay, thanks. That’s helpful.

Operator

(Operator instructions) Your next question comes from the line of Phyllis Kamera [ph] from Pax World Funds. Please proceed.

Phyllis Kamera – Pax World Funds

Hi, thank you very much. Can you tell me is the – the new aluminum coal car, is that included in your backlog already?

James Unger

No.

Phyllis Kamera – Pax World Funds

No.

James Unger

No, we have not included the new aluminum coal car nor have we included any international orders that we’ve received.

Phyllis Kamera – Pax World Funds

Explain for the international orders, do you just put – you make your cars and then just put them on a big ship and ship them over empty, or is that typically the way you would get–?

James Unger

No, we will actually manufacture those cars in the country to which we’ve got the orders.

Phyllis Kamera – Pax World Funds

Okay, okay. Great. And then from looking at your cash balance, and I know you mentioned that you would be using some of that for – added expenses for new cars and new joint ventures you prefer? What do you expect your cash balance to be for the end of the year? What can we look at it for next year, what are you expecting?

James Unger

I think you’ll see most of our capital expenditures in our expansion programs are going to be funded internally out of our cash generation from operations. So you are going to see that cash balance remain relatively stable around $300 million, and that’s where we will be focusing on organic and non-organic growth. And as everyone knows, we’ve got a very active Chairman and we will be aggressively looking at all areas. And when we sell upon an investment activity or an area that we feel is going to be rewarding to the shareholders, we’ll announce it.

Phyllis Kamera – Pax World Funds

Okay. Thank you very much.

Operator

Your final question comes from the line from Steve Barger from KeyBanc. Please proceed.

Steve Barger – KeyBanc

Yes. Can you just give us a quick sense on capacity utilization rates at both your Paragould and Marmaduke facilities?

James Unger

Yes. Marmaduke is running about 90%. Paragould, I’d say, is 55%, 60% capacity.

Steve Barger – KeyBanc

Perfect. Thank you.

Operator

There are no further questions in queue. I’d like to turn the call back over to Mr. James Unger for closing remarks.

James Unger

Thank you. Overall, I’m very pleased with the progress ARI and its employees have made on a number of operational and strategic fronts in the US and India. We believe that ARI is well positioned to take advantage of current and future opportunities in our industry, and we have both the management and capital resources to do so. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you for your participation in today’s conference. This concludes your presentation. You may now disconnect. Good day.

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