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Accuride Corporation (NYSE:ACW)

Q32012 Earnings Call

November 2, 2012 10:00 am ET

Executives

Richard Dauch - President, Chief Executive Officer, Director

Gregory Risch - Chief Financial Officer, Vice President

Analysts

Rhem Wood - BB&T Capital Markets

Kirk Ludtke - CRT Capital Group

Jimmy Baker - B. Riley & Company

John Koerber - Bennett Management

Ross Taylor - Somerset Capital

Graham Morris - Contrarian Capital

Operator

Welcome to the Accuride Corporation third quarter 2012 earnings conference call. On today's call are Accuride's President and CEO Mr. Rick Dauch and its Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Greg Risch. My name is John I and will be wrapping your operator for today's call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question-and-answer session. Please note that this conference is being recorded and will be available for replay later today. At the end of today's call, I will give instructions to access the replay

I will now turn the call over to Accuride's CFO, Greg Risch. Please go ahead, sir.

Gregory Risch

Thanks, John and thanks everyone for joining us today. If you turn to page two, I will remind everybody that during this call, we will be making statements that can be considered forward-looking as defined in the Securities Act. We caution you to read these statements that are subject to risk in our business and I encourage you read all of our SEC filings to understand what those risks are.

Please turn to slide three. During today's call, Rick will provide an update regarding activities within the company, along with key highlights in our industry. I will then review our third-quarter results and provide guidance with Rick finishing up discussing our longer term outlook before I open up the line for questions.

With that, I will turn it over to our President and CEO, Rick Dauch.

Richard Dauch

Good morning, everyone. As we discussed back at October 10, the recent weakness in the North American heavy truck industry created a very challenging environment for Accuride during the third quarter. Our business was severely impacted during the third quarter as our end markets softened significantly. Today, Greg and I will walk you through the impact of these near-term challenges we are having in our operational and financial performance here at Accuride. We will all discuss what we are doing to respond to these near-term headwinds and provide an update on our operational turn on efforts.

Go to slide five. Let's talk about our achievements in the quarter first. In spite of end-market softness both at Accuride Wheels and Brillion Iron Works, we were profitable during the third quarter. All of our major CapEx projects are on schedule and on budget. The launch of our aluminum wheel capacity is 95% complete with the preproduction approval process complete at three of our major customers. The expansion of our machining and polishing operation in Canada is complete and three of the five machine lines in Mexico are installed and running. The last two lines have been installed and qualified now and it will be released into production by 12/1/12.

That will more than double our capacity for aluminum wheels by the end of the year. 75% of our new machine equipment at Gunite is installed and operating, including two of the three drum lines and our automatic slack adjusters assembly line. The third drum line is being installed in Rockford, as we speak, and the hub machine and assembly equipment are on track for delivery during the fourth quarter.

Our Imperial operations in Texas and Tennessee continue to be a challenge for us. The consolidation of our Imperial Tennessee plants will be completed by March 31, allowing us to further reduce our operating expenses in that business unit. The commercial and labor agreements that we have recently completed, up in London, will allow that facility to realize positive operating income for the first time since 2006, 2007 period. It will also allow us to avoid some significant cash contributions to the pension fund for our Canadian employees.

We have made significant progress during the quarter on renewing our long-term agreements for steel and aluminum wheels with our major OEM customers. We had nothing to announce today, but those negotiations are proceeding in positive fashion. The lean manufacturing and quality systems that we are implementing across the corporation are beginning to make meaningful differences in our quality and delivery performance to our customers. I am confident that these efforts will result in improved operational and financial performance as they continue to gain traction and take root across the company.

In response to the significant reductions that we have seen in end-market demand, we have reduced our corporate headcount by 14%. We have made these reductions in a very target fashioned way in order not to jeopardize our long-term ability to fix and grow Accuride.

Let's talk about the challenges in the quarter. Class 8 truck orders have been very weak which has caused OEMs to significantly reduce their build schedules during the third and fourth quarters. Volumes are down at least 25% to 30% in the second half of the year compared to the first two quarters of 2012. Brillion's order backlog and revenue has fallen by approximately 40% on a monthly basis. While that business continues to be profitable, its reduced revenues have impacted our corporate revenue and profit expectations for the remainder of the year.

Return Imperial to profitability remains a challenge. We are currently negotiating with customers to address money-losing products at our Tennessee and Texas facilities and if we can't reach an agreement, we will look to exit some of that business. We are also actively pursuing a plan to exit the lease in Tennessee plant one in early 2013 and we need to complete some critical press repairs in the Texas facility, which will help improve our performance of that location.

As discussed on October 10, Gunite's revenue projections have been negatively impacted by the loss of standard position at both Navistar and Paccar and the continued offshore competition pressure that we feel at both Gunite and in the steel wheels part of the aftermarket business.

Please go to slide seven. As this chart illustrates, OEMs have typically been slow to react to weak order trends, as you can see all the way back to 1996 that’s a true statement. The recent period of weak orders is no exception. The pattern of building trucks in the phase of weak orders that continues since early in the year is unsustainable which is why we have seen rapid and steep declines in build schedules in the third and fourth quarter this year.

Slide eight. The significant reduction in build schedules that we have seen over the last several weeks and months as infiltrated in this comparison of the October build schedules versus the build schedules we used back in June for the forecast before big truck OEMs. On a combined basis, the build schedules for the big truck OEMs are down 22% and we believe there is further risk to build schedules in November and December. We believe that these declines are indicative of near-term weakness in heavy truck orders rather than a long-term cyclical downturn. This is one of the steepest and most rapid declines that we have seen in quite a long time.

Slide nine. The build schedules adjustments that we began to see from our customers during the summer have accelerated over the last several weeks. You can see these build schedule declines had accelerated each month through the back of the year. As an indication of just how fluid these build schedules have been, we have seen additional reductions in customer build schedules since we communicated with investors just three weeks ago. This dynamic environment is what prompted us to withdraw our guidance three weeks ago. It is difficult environment to operate in, especially as we are in the midst of executing our plan to fix the manufacturing operations here at Accuride that have been underinvested in and poorly operated for many, many years.

Slide 10. Our Brillion business, which is largely dependent upon the industrial and agricultural markets it serves has also seen steep declines in monthly orders and revenues. As Brillion came out of its annual summer shut down in July, orders did not pick up as anticipated. This was due in large part to a slowdown in the oil and gas industry orders. In September, that slowdown of oil and gas was compounded by a slowdown in the global construction and commercial truck build markets.

Although Brillion does not sell directly to many overseas customers, its business have been significantly impacted by the slowdown in global economy especially in China as Brillion's industrial customers experienced continued softness in their respective segments. In spite of the rapid decline in revenue, I am pleased that Brillion continues to be profitable which is a direct result of our focus on fixing businesses that have historically underperformed.

Slide 12. The rapidly changing environment we have been operating in for the past few months has forced us to make targeted but aggressive measures to reduce our operating costs. We have reduced our corporate headcount by 14%, including 31 corporate staff and three senior executives. These reductions will save the company about $6.5 million annually. In addition, we have reduced other corporate expenses by just under $5 million.

These reductions include some compensation related expenses as well as travel, marketing and other discretionary spending. The reductions that we have already made have been very targeted. We have been very careful to maintain the talent required to continue to fix our business. You can't run a manufacturing-based business without the right resources in quality product engineering and manufacturing operations. This will ensure that we are well positioned when the upturn does come.

We are pulling ahead to close of our Elkhart Indiana and Brillion Wisconsin machine operation into the fourth quarter. They were originally planned in first quarter. We are also planning to take extended downtime during November and December at most of our operations and will perform our semiannual plant maintenance work on straight time rather than during the holiday periods as is normally done.

Slide 13: The consolidation of Elkhart and Brillion will not only help reduce Gunite's cost structure but will also allow us to significantly improve Gunite's quality and delivery performance to our customers. The reduction in headcount, freight and other costs from this consolidation are just a part of a long-term solution for our Gunite business. In light of Navistar and Paccar's recent decisions regarding Gunite, we are evaluating in updating the business model for Gunite based on a $108 million to $220 million of annual revenue. This analysis will be complete during the first quarter of 2013 and we will share some of our preliminary plans during our investor day on December 5.

Slide 14. With the exception of Imperial, all of our major capital investment projects are on schedule and will be complete by the end of the year. The aluminum wheel capacity expansion is all but done. We have two machines left to install in Mexico and we have tripled the capacity of our Camden facility which is now approved for OEM production for the first time at three of our major customers.

These efforts will allow us profitably gain share as the market continues to shift from steel to aluminum. As I said earlier, two of the three drum machine lines as Gunite are installed and running with a third line being installed right now which will allow us to machine 100% of our drums in Rockford by year-end. We have replaced two manual slack adjuster assembly lines with an automated line which is much more robust from a quality and cost standpoint.

The hub machine equipment at Brillion have been refurbished and is now in Rockford being installed which will allow us to exit the Brillion machining operations by the end of November. We have one remaining piece of equipment that’s due in at the end of December that will take us about 60 days to qualify (inaudible) with our customers.

As I mentioned earlier, returning Imperial to probably continues to be a challenge. We are negotiating with customers to address the money-losing products at our Tennessee and Texas facilities and are actively pursuing a plan to exit the lease in Tennessee plant one. While critical press repairs continue in the Texas facility, I expect all of this work to be done by the end of the first quarter of next year.

Brillion continues to perform in the face of reduced revenues. That is a business that lost over $140 million over a 10 year period. So we are pleased with the improvement that our Brillion team has made this year. As we have discussed previously, Brillion may not fit our long-term vision so if we can monetize it for the right value, we will take the opportunity to show up our balance sheet. Although, as well hold onto it until the market picks back up.

We began the initial work to implement a new ERP system back in June. We continue to performing the necessary preparatory work to purify our databases prior to implementing the new system. This is a multiyear project that we anticipate completing in 2014. The heavy capital intensive restructuring of Accuride will be complete by the end of the year. Going forward, our CapEx will be approximately half of what we have been spent in each of the last years returning to a more normalized 3.5% to 4% of revenue.

Slide 15. We keep an internal report card for each of facilities. As you can see, when I arrived at Accuride in 2011, many of our plants were in pretty rough shape in terms of profitability, quality, delivery and cost effectiveness. Our London Ontario plant has been losing money for a long time but is now in a position to make money at the operating income level, due to our commercial and labor agreement settlement. Operations at Monterrey and Erie have both been improved with the introduction of lean manufacturing, selective increases in capacity to break bottlenecks and much more disciplined approach to both quality and safety.

We purchased Camden in the summer of 2011, are in the final phase of bringing that facility up to our new performance standards for Accuride operations. Our distribution warehouse is not up to world class standards. So we are evaluating our options to improve that part of our business. We spent considerable time outlining the improvements that have made been made at Gunite facilities but the end of the year, we have close two machining facilities and we will have a much improved operation at Rockford.

If you remember, when I got here, we were 70,000 units past due with a PPM rate of over 10,000 with two quality spills. As of the last 30 days we have had a PPM rate of 10 PPM, we are not past due to our customers and we have adequate capacity to meet their needs. I have one customer tell me I have never seen Gunite shipped within five days and live up to their commitments for the last years. We still have some work to do on the casting line and we have to make a lot of progress to fix because it was a very worn out inefficient operation at Rockford.

As I indicated earlier, I am very pleased with the progress that our Brillion teams has made. We have taken that mulitplant complex from a money-losing operation to a profitable operation in a relatively short period of time. We still have some work to do there but we are headed in the right direction at Brillion.

Our Imperial facilities have had mixed results over the past year. Our polishing and plating operation in Portland, Tennessee has improved but our performance in Texas, a significant indicator, has been disappointing. Our new making progress down in Texas but we have a lot of work left to complete there. Closing the Portland, Tennessee stamping facility and addressing the operational and commercial issues in Texas are two of our highest priorities over the next three to five months. Our Chehalis, Washington and Dublin, Virginia plants continue to be strong and profitable operations for us and we hope to grow those businesses going forward.

I will now turn it over to Greg to present the financial results for the quarter.

Gregory Risch

Thanks, Rick. Please turn to slide 17. As Rick noted, we faced rapidly declining production in our industry beginning in the middle of the third quarter. Year-over-year our sales from continuing operations for quarter three were down 10.6% and down 20% from quarter two. Our operating loss of $9.7 million was lower than the prior year income of $4.5 million primarily due to the overall decreased demand.

Our net loss of $17.7 million was unfavorably impacted by $3 million of non-recurring charges related to the closure of Elkhart, Indiana facility for Gunite and $2 million of other severance related salary headcount reductions made in the period, as Rick previously mentioned.

Despite the reduced demand in the industries that we serve, our wheels and Brillion operations remained on track. Gunite operations are improving with the new machinery yet are facing increased competition which is putting increased pressure on margins.

The Imperial business has improved operationally from the second quarter but is also adjusting to the significantly lower class 8 demand in the second half of the year.

Next slide, please. I thought it would be helpful to show a bridge from the third quarter 2011 to the current results. Sales from continuing operations again were about 11% lower that last year with Gunite and Imperial experiencing the more significant percentage decreases. Our operating loss of $9.7 million was below the prior year income of $4.5 million primarily due to the loss contribution on a reduced sales demands and the non-recurring charges related to the Elkhart closure and other salary reductions totaling $5.1 million.

Our net loss of $17.7 million matched last year's results but mostly due to recording charges in 2011 related to discontinued operations. It was basically including a tax provision related to the divestiture of Fabco in September 2011.

Next slide, please. On slide 19, you can see that through the first nine months, our sales from continuing operations were about 9% higher than last year. Our operating income of $7.1 million was less than the prior year income of $14.4 million primarily due to pricing and other impacts related to launching new equipment and fixing our business. Our net loss of $21.5 million was just over last year's results but again mostly due to the impact of the 2011 divestitures that brought down last year's results.

Next slide, please. For the first time in this year, slide 20 shows revenue that’s below last year's results as the market demand declined in the current quarter, Again, year-over-year revenue of $215 million was almost 11% below last year and 20% lower than quarter two of this year. The impact was significant and continuous drop in demand during the third quarter that Rick outlined on slide nine, created operational inefficiencies that it was difficult to take cost out in a rapid manner.

Next slide, please. Slide 21 shows the trends for both our wheels and Gunite businesses. Our wheels business reflects the same trends at the consolidated company in regards to sales and earnings. Sales in Q3 of about $98 million represented about 46% of our total revenues for wheels. We experienced both OEM and aftermarket demand falling. Within a two week timeframe, as Rick mentioned, we went from operating the aluminum wheel facilities from a seven days per week basis to just under five days of run rate. Year-over-year margins were impacted by that decrease in mix and pricing of approximately $4.5 million in our wheels business.

Gunite experienced a tough quarter. Since they are in the middle of their new equipment launches, which requires extra cost related to training and qualifications regarding quality, and they are also experiencing the decrease in demand in both OEM and aftermarket particularly brake drums. Revenue of approximately $49.6 million was 22% lower than last year and 26% lower than Q2 of this year. Gunite's net sales represent approximately 23% of our total sales.

Again, the earnings won't reflect a significant improvement until we complete the launches and consolidate their footprint with the closures of the Brillion and Elkhart machining operations. Also important to note, year-over-year, the net impact of approximately $1.7 million of cost were reflected in Gunite's results this quarter for current market pricing related to certain casting and machining operations from Brillion. As Rick stated, I am merrily looking forward to hosting investors on December 5 to show how we are positioning this business to run once the industry demand increases.

Next slide, please. On slide 22, we see the Brillion business continues to perform with increases in both top line and earnings. Brillion's revenue of $39.4 million represents approximately 18% of the consolidated revenue of the company this quarter. Brillion's challenge during the most recent quarter was to adjust to the rapid decline in demand coming from the markets that they serve. They experienced a 20% decline in demand from just the prior quarter, quarter two this year but responded quickly with reduced head count.

Imperial revenue of $28 million was up 19% year-over-year and 29% versus quarter two, the most significant drop quarter-to-quarter in our businesses. Back in the first quarter this year, Imperial sales growth year-over-year was about 60%. We can see that this business has seen significant volatility making it difficult to operate. Again, we see significant improvement to the day-to-day operations at Imperial but we have commercial issues to resolve while we finish up the repairs of certain presses and exit the larger Tennessee facility in early '13, as Rick mentioned.

Next slide. Top two graphs on slide 23, breakout the three components of our trade working capital. Trade accounts receivable, inventory and accounts payable. Total trade working capital dollars fell in the quarter due to the decrease in revenue. We were challenged to reduce inventories through the period as demand for our products declined and as we are working through the more significant equipment launches.

Next slide, please. Slide 24 shows our free cash flow for the quarter of negative $15.4 million. Positive cash flow from operations of $3.2 million was curtailed by our regularly scheduled interest payment on the bond that’s that occurs every February and August. I will remind everyone that our capital expenditures are higher than the historical norms currently due to being in the midst of our fix and grow strategy and that will be reduced by approximately 40% to 50% in next year, as Rick previously stated.

Next slide. Moving with our free cash flow for the period, our liquidity shown on here on slide 25 dropped from just over $100 million to just under $80 million as of September 30. We remain focused on completing our fix and grow strategy and keeping adequate liquidity to face the currently declining demand from our customers. The initiatives on the bottom half of the slide are an example of our current activities related to liquidity.

We will walk through a couple of those. First one being, exploring lease options for recent capital investment. This could generate approximately $10 million to $15 million received in the fourth quarter and we will keep you abreast as those continue.

Second, minimizing and deferring CapEx. As Rick stated, we are not going to jeopardize our fix and grow strategy. We will continue to make sure that we are ready for the customers as the demand increases but we can also curtail things as we head into 2013.

Third, we will continue to work on working capital and we have a target of $10 million. I was fortunate to attend a link conference recently within the company and I was extremely impressed with their focus, the sophistication and the direction of those activities. I have confidence that they will result in significant inventory savings going forward.

Last, we have discussed previously potential sale of non-core assets or idle equipment. We don't have anything to announce today but that process remains ongoing and again we will keep you abreast when the time comes.

Otherwise, in regards to our outlook we have modeled our business using build scenarios of approximately 230,000 truck builds in 2013, as well as a downside scenario of 180,000 trucks to assess our liquidity. While we are comfortable that our normal management of cash provides the liquidity, we will remain focused on the initiatives mentioned previously to give us ample cushion.

Now let's turn to slide 27 to address our 2012 guidance. Using the current expectations from the market our revenue projections have declined by approximately $100 million in 2012. Outside of regular class 5 through 8 and trailer fluctuations that we normally experience, Brillion's outlook dropped by approximately $35 million in the second half. This represents a rapidly declining production rate for our industrial customers there as well as the oil and gas industry. Our traditional production market hurt us by approximately $25 million due to the lower build and the market share gains that we are anticipating in the second half that will be pushed into 2013. The impact of the Gunite loss of standard position is expected to be in the $15 million range while the aftermarket demand has remained softer than expected which impacted both the Gunite and wheel business.

Please turn to the next slide. Using the build data at the top of the page along with the current expectation from our aftermarket customers and industrial customers that Brillion serves, we are revising our guidance shown here on slide 28. We expect net sales to be in the range of $900 million to $925 million. Given the challenges of the declining demand adjusted EBITDA is projected to be in the range of $60 million to $65 million. Our loss per share should be in the range of $0.89 to $1 with free cash flow being use of cash of $35 million to $40 million.

Let me note a couple of items included in the EPS number. First, the closure of Gunite Elkhart facility impacts EPS by $0.06. Other severance, Rick mentioned in the quarter, represents $0.04. We are also forecasting an asset write down of $0.07 in quarter four. As we will disclose in our upcoming Form 10-Q, we are performing our annual goodwill and other intangible impairment tests during the quarter. In the event that the fair value of one or more of our reporting unit is less its carrying amount, we will determine the amount of impairment if any, and it will be recorded in the fourth quarter. I will remind you that any such charge is non-cash and would not affect our liquidity, tangible equity or debt covenants.

Now I will turn the call over to Rick for a few comments on the industry prior to taking your questions.

Richard Dauch

I am on slide 30 now. There is no doubt that we have had a very challenging third quarter and we expected to continue to face headwinds from the commercial truck and other industrial segments over the next two to three quarters. The good news is, there is an underpinning for a fundamental recovery in the commercial vehicle market over the next several years. Manufacturing appears be holding its own with September's ISM reading providing some reassurance.

The age of fleet is at 6.7 years and it's at an all-time high going back more than 25 years. Historically, when trucks pass the have the five-year and 500,000 mile mark, maintenance costs begin to rise sharply probably. Finally, freight volumes are continuing the trend of modest growth.

Fleets won't be able to sit on the sidelines indefinitely and are likely to begin placing orders once some of the uncertainties surrounding certain political and global economic events have passed. In recent discussions with our OEM customers, there appears to be a slight uptick in fleet orders over the last few weeks that will impact late fourth quarter and early first quarter 2013.

Let's go to slide 31. The build forecast for class 8 medium duty and trailers project a healthy outlet for the next several years. There is a big disparity between FTR and ACT for 2013 class 8 builds with ACT at 280 and FTR at 233. We are going to tend to be on the conservative side, more on the 220 to 230 range. The fleets need to come back in the market for us to see year-over-year increases in build. If they don’t we will be certainly be down at the lower end of the range.

Medium duty build, which are tied to the housing market and government spending are projected to increase to between 180,000 and 200,000 trucks next year. We have seen some recent weakness, though, in trailer builds. They were running as high as 250,000 annual run rate early in the year and right now they are running around 220,000 annual run rate. Projections for 2013 are between 2010 and 250,000 for trailer builds.

Slide 32. We started this journey when I arrived in Accuride in February 2011. In April that year, we give our board and our customers a rough draft of our strategic vision which we presented to investors in July last year. Our vision and goals remain unchanged which are to create a profitable premier global wheel-end company.

Step one of our plan was, we started at the bottom of the period with people. We have replaced the majority of the leadership team. We now have a confident business unit and functional department leaders, capable plant managers and a strong VP of quality and experienced manufacturing and product engineers throughout the organization. We are working as a team across the enterprise to improve the foundations of our business every day, machine by machine, plant by plant, operator by operator.

Step two, we spent a lot of time listening to our customers, which is what has driven our decisions to invest in our core businesses. Our wheels business is on track and we see extremely high marks from all of our customers and we now have adequate capacity in place at the right locations for both steel wheels and aluminum wheels. So we are ready for the upturn when it comes but we have a lot of work to do to earn back our reputation with our customers at both Gunite and Imperial which continue to be our operating challenges.

Step three, we will continue to divest non-core assets at the right price and at the right time. We want to put these assets in the hands of owners who will invest in and treat the assets appropriately.

Step four, we are implementing lean manufacturing systems across the organization and are moving the company in the right direction with the goal of bringing all of our facilities up to the same high standards that we have already achieved at Henderson and Erie. I have worked with a consultant who is at Toyota veteran at three different companies and the marks he gives us for Erie and Henderson are the highest marks I have heard from him ever in the last 10 years of working with him.

Step five. Once we have fixed our core businesses here in North America, we will start growing the company on a global basis.

Let's go to slide 33. Taking a little view of our efforts over the past couple of years. You can see the progress we have made in our efforts to create a company that’s much more focused on our core products and our core market segments. We have divested businesses that are outside of our core and invested in our core businesses. We will continue this focused approach to strengthen our core operations and getting rid of the businesses that are not related to what we do best.

Slide 34. The bottom line is that industry conditions and recent customer developments have made our efforts to fix our business much more difficult. I have shared this before but someone asked me last year on one of our calls, if it's easier to fix the company when the volumes are going up or when volumes are going down. I remember, I laughed when I heard the question. They are both very difficult but it is much more difficult when you don’t have the volume to cover your fixed operating structure or your operating inefficiencies.

We respond to these challenging market conditions by reducing our cost structure without jeopardizing our long-term fix and grow plans. Given our current projections we have the liquidity we need to continue to streamline and fix the operations within our core businesses. Our aluminum wheel and Gunite launches will be complete by year-end and we are aggressively addressing the operational and commercial issues at Imperial.

Tough market conditions and the recent decisions by our OEM customers are causing us to reevaluate the Gunite business model based on $180 million to $220 million in annual revenue. However, we remain focused on making the right decisions for the long-term success of Accuride. Accuride will be a much stronger and more dependable company for our customers and shareholders.

Before I close up, I would like to remind everyone of our upcoming analyst day which will be held at our Rockford, Illinois facility at 11 AM central time on Wednesday December 5. We are excited to give you, our investors, the opportunity to see the significant improvements that we made in Rockford and hope that many of you will be able to join us in December.

Thanks for joining our call today and thanks for supporting us as we continue the hard work of turning this company around. Now I will turn it over for Q&A.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

(Operator Instructions) Our first question comes from Rhem Wood from BB&T Capital Markets. Please go ahead.

Rhem Wood - BB&T Capital Markets

My first question is, your guidance implies that the fourth quarter earnings are going to decelerate even though maybe you have taken out some costs, you have a little more time to adjust cost. So the question is, what kind of quarterly production rate do you think you need from the industry to make money at this point?

Richard Dauch

To make money or to achieve this rate?

Rhem Wood - BB&T Capital Markets

Well, to make money, I guess.

Richard Dauch

I don’t think I can answer that with just one number because, if you know, I wouldn’t equate Brillion to a class 8 or 5 through 7 trailer and obviously we have had a significant piece of business for Gunite that’s aftermarket related. So I don’t know that I can answer, if you are asking where our breakeven point. Is that your question, Rhem?

Rhem Wood - BB&T Capital Markets

Yes. it is. It is kind of my question because I guess what I am trying to figure out is if you can money in any quarter in 13 because your guidance from production of 220 to 23 is presumably below what was in the third and maybe in the fourth quarter.

Richard Dauch

In the first and second quarter of this year, we are running at truck builds of around 75,000 and if it wasn’t for operation issues at Imperial, we would have had a positive net income in both the first and second quarter.

Here in the third and fourth quarter, we are running closer to the 50,000 to 60,000 type of run rate, right, and you see the results. We need to get our cost structure right. We are closing three operations basically in the next 90 days or nice to say the next 120 days between the Tennessee plant, the Brillion machining plant, and Elkhart facility that takes off from cost structure. We have taken out some SG&A here at corporate and that’s about where we are at right now. Okay.

So we like to see builds north of 65,000 in the quarter. We don’t think we are going to see that in the first quarter. We may not see that in the second quarter and we are very hopeful we will see that in the third and fourth quarter but we will do some more work and come back to you guys on the Analyst day about where we think that is. Okay.

Rhem Wood - BB&T Capital Markets

Next question. So I guess, what I want to understand is that while you only have one covenant, as I understand, a fixed charged covenant and that only kicks in at the borrowing base, gets low, but next as you think about things, what happens if you continue to post losses like this and then the borrowing base inventory receivables and other things come down. How do you foresee that impacting your liquidity.

Gregory Risch

Rhem, as I stated previously, we have done a lot of modeling. We have modeled some lower business case and actually we modeled a lower of the FTR and ACT projections for next year and then we also modeled FTR further downside scenario closer to 180, right. I think 188 is the current downturn scenario. So we modeled the 180 just to test that to see where it is.

So, as you would expect first quarter is the tightest when we did that and as primarily with the bond payment in February. So our challenge will be, as Rick said, is to adjust the CapEx and also to maintain the proper amount of inventory through that period. So first quarter is the tightest but we are comfortable with those scenarios.

Richard Dauch

Hey, Rhem, our board asked us a quarter ago, when they started seeing some of these schedules. The downturn happened at greater than 30%. Do we have adequate liquidity to get through the first half of next year. So we have actually modeled it down to 180,000 build rate for the entire year next year. That is about 45,000 truck build per quarter and we think we have adequate liquidity to do that.

We are taking actions, as Greg said, to look at some more capital leases, deeper cuts in inventory and some other activities that we can get done to make sure we have adequate liquidity get through there. Okay. So if it really hits the fan next year, we go below 45,000 build rate, we are taking actions to get ready for that kind of situations in case things go bad.

Rhem Wood - BB&T Capital Markets

Then last question, I will turn it over. With your charges this quarter of $0.11, I think $0.06 were for Elkhart and maybe $0.04 or $0.05 for something else. What line item are those and have they been called and do you expect another $0.07 in the fourth quarter?

Gregory Risch

The $0.07 in the fourth quarter, we currently would anticipate that being operating expenses. The charges in the third quarter, I believe, the $3 million related to Elkhart, were in cost of goods sold and I believe that of the $2 million of the pretax charges, I believe that $1.6 million of those was in operating expenses with remainder in cost of goods sold.

Operator

Your next comes from Kirk Ludtke from of CRT Capital. Please go ahead.

Kirk Ludtke - CRT Capital Group

I am also looking at the implied fourth quarter guidance and with respect to cash flow it looks like you are looking for cash flow break even in the fourth quarter. Sounding about right?

Gregory Risch

Yes, that’s right.

Kirk Ludtke - CRT Capital Group

Looks like you still have about 20 million of CapEx to go. You may have been already this I am guessing that you are expecting a contraction on working capital to offset that.

Gregory Risch

We should have that.

Kirk Ludtke - CRT Capital Group

Okay. You are showing nine for the full year. Is there anything left to do in the fourth?

Gregory Risch

We are done with that for the year. So there is nothing to worry in this year and that 65, capital number, we may be able to improve that a little bit to help further but that’s that we are anticipating for now.

Kirk Ludtke - CRT Capital Group

Any cash restructuring cost or anything like that?

Gregory Risch

No, nothing significant there. I would say. Paying out some of those cost that we incurred at the end of the third quarter in September, relating to Elkhart, those will get paid throughout the fourth quarter.

Kirk Ludtke - CRT Capital Group

Are they enough to move the needle?

Gregory Risch

No.

Kirk Ludtke - CRT Capital Group

So it looks like you are looking for a working capital contraction of $15 million to $20 million in the fourth?

Gregory Risch

That’s about right. If you think about it, if you watch our industry you can see that even on normal, well, I don’t know what normal is anymore, but even normally in December as the production gets take down, there are plans to do schedule maintenance in December. That will happen this year. So that’s the bulk of it.

Kirk Ludtke - CRT Capital Group

Okay, and you were talking about, you got some excess inventory but that comes out.

Gregory Risch

Some of that inventory is due to the equipment launches and then also, we normally inventory down at the end of the year anyway, but we probably had a little extra in the third quarter because we couldn’t get it out fast enough and we still had those launches to get through.

Richard Dauch

We had little bit of inventory to close the Elkhart and Brillion facilities, right, as we moved equipment. So we built some inventory up at Brillion early in the third quarter. We then shutdown the equipment, took it out, refurbished it and put it back in the condition where it can working run at quality parts and being installed and then we had to move some assembly equipment out of Elkhart into Gunite between now and Christmas until the new equipment gets all fully launched there, okay.

We had also, earlier in the year, built some inventory to protect us in case we had any issues up in Canada. That worked itself out, basically late second quarter, early third quarter and we are going from there.

Kirk Ludtke - CRT Capital Group

That’s helpful. I appreciate it. Can you talk a little bit about the stress that the sudden downturn in production is having on the industry in general. I hear that some of your customers are asking you for concessions and on pricing and trade terms and I suspect that there is probably a lot of that going around. Can you elaborate on that at all?

Richard Dauch

While I have had the opportunity in the last 30 days to go visit the big four truck guys, depends who you are talking to. You know how stressed they are. Some of them are having profits for 73 years. Well, that’s okay, if the suppliers make money too. Bu the suppliers lose money while they make money. That is not a good relationship to be in, right.

So we had to have some of those discussions. We have others who are in a very challenging situation and it's hard to give money and price reduction when you have no money to give, right. So I will say that they are pretty regular discussions. Where we can help, great. Where we can't, we won't. Where we need help, we are going to ask for that. Otherwise they can find some somebody else to lose money on products we ship for them. Does that make sense?

We are not, as I said earlier on, when I got here last year. We are not going to have plants to lose money. If we can't find a path with 24 to 36 months to have money being made at a plant, that plant won't survive. It will be closed. If we have products that we can't money on, we will exit those products. We have customers who don’t allow us to have a fair profit but allows us to invest back in our business. We need to exit those customers as well.

This business has been punished for too long by not having the money to invest back in the business and that’s what we are trying to do in a very quick fashion in '11 and '12, so when we do get a ramp up in the industry, we are not behind schedule. We are not running seven days a week. We are not having quality spills, right. So it’s a challenging turnaround and what is an up and down cycle, right.

Last year, when the cycle turned up, we couldn’t keep up. We burned through money on Imperial and Gunite because of past due situation, quality issues. This year, we are getting our capacity in place when the market turns down. So now we have got to be flexible enough to move quickly.

I get brilliant credit. We put in four extra crews with the union's support back in March and April, took advantage of the high-volumes and some pricing, ran the hell out of that plant and when the volumes dropped off like a cliff in mid-August, we laid off 198 people in less than seven days. That’s not how Brillion used to operate. That’s how we are operating now. Much more intense operating focus here at Accuride.

Kirk Ludtke - CRT Capital Group

That’s good. I appreciate that. So it doesn’t sound like you have experienced any erosion in trade support.

Richard Dauch

No.

Kirk Ludtke - CRT Capital Group

And I guess the last topic, and I know this is probably early days to really talk about this, but I think we have got a pretty good sense for what your cash requirements are. Meaning a normalized CapEx is probably what, mid-30s?

Gregory Risch

Yes, I think 35, plus or minus 5, depending on the volumes, right and I think the maintenance capital is somewhere in the 15, 20 and then we have some productivity things related to some of the other equipment we have. So we have already been working on that for 90 days and we scaled back some of our demand for next year assuming the market is going to stay down low in the first half of the year.

But we have only got a couple of more bigger capital investments that we need to take care in terms of some of our coding systems and then some upgrades, some old equipment down at Mexico but aluminum wheels are in great shape, right. There are something we like about aluminum wheels which we can defer to 2014, 2015. Steel wheels were great shape. Although we have some issues on our old equipment in Mexico we need to address from a quality standpoint. At Gunite, we don’t anymore money in machining. We have come to the end of what we have spend on the facility in the casting line to make sure that thing is competitive, okay.

In Imperial we have got some pretty big press repairs that are due down in Texas. Presses that were worn out. One of them got damaged during the move. We ran it pretty hard last week. So that should all be done by first quarter.

Then Brillion, right now, with the volumes where they are at, we can hang with where we are at and we can reduce the capital. We can defer from capital out to 2015 or 2016 or until somebody else owns that asset.

Kirk Ludtke - CRT Capital Group

Okay, and I appreciate that. Let's say we are at the current run rate for another two quarters and you have got thought interest in CapEx of $35 million for the first half of the year and working capital reverses itself. So now we are at, let's say, it’s a use of $20 million. We have got $50 million, $60 million of cash requirements in the first half of the year and if you are doing $15 million of EBITDA, is that kind of the math here that we should be thinking about?

Gregory Risch

I would say that we would be reducing CapEx as things continue to stay low or worse than we project. So we will manage CapEx and we will manage our working capital too. I wouldn’t expect working capital to be a use.

Kirk Ludtke - CRT Capital Group

In the first half?

Gregory Risch

If we stay it well, in those scenarios that you are outlining, in regards to remaining slow for the next two quarters, I would say that there shouldn’t be a working capital increase.

Kirk Ludtke - CRT Capital Group

Because it only increases if volume increases.

Gregory Risch

There you go. You are right. We would be reinvesting in the receivables primarily.

Kirk Ludtke - CRT Capital Group

Okay, I got it. I appreciate. Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from Jimmy Baker from B. Riley & Company. Please go ahead.

Jimmy Baker - B. Riley & Company

Just a couple of follow-ups to the liquidity questions so far. So first, do you expect to make additional borrowings on the revolver to get through Q1 and can you just remind us of how much capacity you have there before you would be in a compliance period.

Gregory Risch

Yes. So, I think it's probably not a question that we may have to borrow in the first quarter. It really depends on what volume there is. You could anticipate that for that $14.7 million payment n the February 1. Other half of your question, I am sorry, what was the other half? Are you asking what the availability is?

Jimmy Baker - B. Riley & Company

Right until you would be in a compliance period.

Gregory Risch

Our compliance period would only be kicked in or the fixed covenant charge covenant only kicks in when we have the lesser $15 million of availability or 15%, right.

Jimmy Baker - B. Riley & Company

Okay, and then just in terms of the scenario analysis that you mentioned you ran, I think 230,000 and all the way down to 180,000 Class 8 builds. What EBITDA were you assuming at those, in those prospective build rates to stay comfortable with your liquidity.

Gregory Risch

That’s a great question but I am probably not going to answer that one today. That’s a very good question, though. We are not ready to release our guidance or imply what our guidance is going to be for 2013 just yet.

Jimmy Baker - B. Riley & Company

All right, I can try, right.

Gregory Risch

That was good. So, I appreciate it, Jimmy.

Richard Dauch

Jimmy, we have done some of the preliminary work, right, and we are doing some more work and the guys I think come back to Greg and I in mid-November and we will inform our board of directors at mid-December.

Gregory Risch

You should anticipate we would talk about that at our next earnings call.

Jimmy Baker - B. Riley & Company

Just was interested if you could talk a little bit about the margin pressure at your wheels business during the quarter. How much of that is aftermarket share loss versus just not having the volume you originally anticipated?

Gregory Risch

Are you referencing just what is going on in the current quarter or are you try to compare it to another period?

Jimmy Baker - B. Riley & Company

Well, you can compare it any number of trailing periods with similar overall volumes and your margins are down, right?

Gregory Risch

Yes, sorry. So let me just maybe talk in general, right. So third quarter we had a shutdown at the July 1, and so we have some maintenances going on there. So that always pushes that a little bit. Otherwise you are right. The rapid decline and so as we get called weekly as we go back to slide nine, that Rick outlined, continuing pressure on what the volumes are going to be with expectations. So you have a cost structure ready to handle X volume and then you get a phone call and so you start adjusting and then you get another phone call.

So the rapid declines, I would say, each of our business is safe but at wheels it’s the same as well. If you think about the third quarter though, Jimmy, the launch expenses related to the expansion in both Camden and Monterrey, there is training, there is qualification, that’s just what happens during a launch. So that’s quarter three.

Now, in addition to those, the volume was aftermarket business and the OEM downturn, both hurt. So aftermarket getting a little softer and I think we talked at our last call, about how the imports have continued to hurt the steel business so that keeps that demand soft. So that’s pressure that’s not going away right now.

We will see next Tuesday brings us.

Jimmy Baker - B. Riley & Company

Well, I guess, the implicit question is, is there any lingering impairment that we should be modeling from a margins perspective given the sustained share loss on the steel aftermarket side or when volumes pick back up again, can you return to a more historical range for wheels margin?

Gregory Risch

Yes, I do think we can return to those historical norms. I do think that we are challenged on the aftermarket piece of it and I think if you are trying to split them apart, I would certainly say that aluminum is making ground at the expense of steel. However, there is nobody in better position than Accuride Corporation to handle that switch.

If a customer wants to go from steel to aluminum we are the only ones that can help them out. So we will take that aluminum sale over steel sale internally. I am glad to have that. But I think the wheel business in total, I am not looking at is as impairment.

Jimmy Baker - B. Riley & Company

Lastly, I just have couple on Gunite and I will back out in the queue. Can you talk about where your planning for revenue mix at Gunite is 2013? Is $180 million to $220 million revenue range in terms of aftermarket versus OE? Then also in '13 do you still think you can get to a double-digit EBITDA margin in that business for the full year?

Gregory Risch

I think OE is going to be more like 25% and aftermarket on 75%.

Richard Dauch

Yes, that sounds more appropriate.

Gregory Risch

And we are working hard to see if we can maintain that double-digit EBIT margins at the $180 million to $220 million build rates. So we get to take out some more structural costs. We have brought in some outside people to help us really dig through our current standards and some of the things we do. In fact, I have the rest of my team across the hall working on that right now. So we will talk more about that with you December 5.

Richard Dauch

Yes, that’s our challenge, Jimmy.

Operator

Your next question comes from John Koerber from Bennett Management. Please go ahead.

John Koerber - Bennett Management

Actually my questions were about how the customer was the going to do something on trade terms and Kirk hit that and really, I had some questions on margin and then the last guy asked that too. So I am done here.

Operator

Our next question comes from Ross Taylor from Somerset Capital. Please go ahead.

Ross Taylor - Somerset Capital

Rick, it's more of a comment than a question. I really respect what you and your team have been trying to accomplish and have accomplished over the last year and a half or so but the simple fact as an investor in the company, it hasn’t worked for us. The shareholders have suffered pretty significant losses over that timeframe. The company, in talking to people in the industry and other places, the assets seem to be worth three times or more what the equity market is currently trading them at, largely because of fear of the viability of the company. I would like to say any conversation I have with any holder of your company always come back to the same question of, shouldn’t this company, shouldn’t the board, in addition to looking for disposal options for non-core assets Brillion, and the like shouldn’t be exploring the full ramifications of strategic alternatives for the company and see if we can get an opportunity to have someone pay shareholders what the value of this company is as opposed to having to run through a period which listening to this clear, really, clearly you guys are not thinking that you are cusp of a great turnaround. We are lot further away from it today than we were six months ago, it seems.

Gregory Risch

Thank you for your comment.

Richard Dauch

We are working hard to turn around the company. I will tell you that we talk with our board on a regular basis about the strategic options for our company and we are working on many fronts to make sure we maximize the shareholder value here. All right. The downturn in the industry which, as some of you who have been in the business much longer than myself, I have been here 20 months, I have got people who have been here 20 to 40 years. They said the downturn we experience in the third quarter is the steepest and most rapid declines they have ever seen their careers here.

Okay, so hopefully I have also been told, when it turns it turns up fast and I experienced that last year. We are much more well positioned to handle an upturn if there is an upturn next year but your point is well taken and I will take that in advice and my board and I will continue to make sure we are doing the right things for this company and our shareholders.

Ross Taylor - Somerset Capital

Okay, and I hope that right thing means, that you undertake the effort to see. I don’t think anyone wants to sell this thing at a fire sale price but I think it's only fair that we figure if there is someone out there willing to pay us a fair price for that the equity holders get a chance to get that relief.

Richard Dauch

Ross, I would tell you obviously after we pulled our guidance back on October 10 I have had many phone calls about that for three or four weeks, right. From both, equity investors and guys who think they can come in and potentially take advantage of a tough situation. We are fixing a company that has a viable future. We have will wheels business that is excellent business. We have Brillion business which we return to probability could be monetized. We have an Imperial business that needs a lot of work. It's been ignored for long, long time around here. We have a Gunite business that, quite frankly, wasn’t really invested in for over 20 years.

So we are trying to get that thing fixed but I appreciate your comments.

Operator

Our next question comes from Michael (inaudible). Please go ahead.

Unidentified Analyst

With the current production increase, capacity increases in Monterrey and Camden, is there any thoughts on where we can see market share relative Alcoa wheels on the aluminum side in 12 to 24 months?

Richard Dauch

I think traditionally, we have been around 67%, 33% flip between Alcoa and Accuride than what I have been told when I got here when truck builds approach the 250,000 range, the Accuride ran out of split and Alcoa picked up all the volume in the upside. Even this year, as late as first week of August, before the production cuts came, we were running our aluminum plant seven days a week, even with the new capacity put in place.

So there is definitely a shift going on the markets, especially as fuel prices continue to be stubbornly high, although it has come down in the last couple of weeks from steel to aluminum. We are now finally in a position. This is one of the thing our customers told me the first month out here. Rick, you do not have enough aluminum capacity. You shut us down at the Volvo Mac back in 2006, we can't give you business in the trailer market because you do not have the volumes and you are servicing the aftermarket.

We now have adequate capacity to go toe to toe with Alcoa. They are a competitor. We are rational competitor. We are going to go and fight tooth to tooth. Whoever got the best quality and the best on time delivery wins. I do think our Camden facility in the heart of Southeast region where there is a lot of trailer builders and there is a lot of Daimler plans is a great location for us to be at from a freight logistics standpoint and from overall cost of operation there, right.

I would say, Alcoa still has an advantage over us in Monterrey because they can forge and machine and all we do is machine. So were shipping products from Erie down to Monterrey. I am sure I would love to have a forging plant down there but that’s not something I can afford to do right now. So I think it will be a nice battle and we will see if we can gain some share there.

Unidentified Analyst

So you are thinking that if there is a run rate approaching 300,000 in a couple of years, that ratio between Accuride and Alcoa can dramatically shift?

Richard Dauch

I think we can gain some points of market share, yes.

Unidentified Analyst

I don’t know if this is an appropriate question on this call. In terms of margins, currently on steel wheels versus aluminum wheels, just back of the envelope, what are we looking at for the difference?

Richard Dauch

Those margins are similar. I would say current rate if we think about Q3. Aluminum was down just a little bit just because they are going through those equipment launches and so the extra training and qualifications that they are going through, may have dipped slightly just in the quarter but ongoing they should remain similar as far as a percentage.

Unidentified Analyst

And in a normalized environment, after the CapEx of this year, do we look at margins being approximately similar?

Richard Dauch

Yes.

Operator

Your next question comes from Graham Morris from Contrarian Capital. Please go ahead.

Graham Morris - Contrarian Capital

Can you rule out an equity issuance to raise additional liquidity?

Gregory Risch

Yes, I don’t see it soon. Equity at $2.50 a share. That’s pretty high cost capital, right.

Operator

(Operator Instructions) We have a question from (inaudible). Please go ahead.

Unidentified Analyst

Just a quick question on wheels. You talked a little bit about margins in Q3. Can you give us sense for what a run rate for wheels at 60,000, 65,000 quarterly build rate level would be, backing out the ramp up cost and any raw material impact this quarter?

Gregory Risch

I think if you look at what we have historically done, I think you can still count on that. I did things with current margin pressure, just because of the launches, well it's gone through, it's going to just impact the current. So as we get through that after quarter four, remember, we still have a little bit to go in Mexico in the fourth quarter, but if you are looking for a normal run rate I think you can still count on what we have historically produced.

I think we have improvements coming that should offset competition in regards to overseas on the steel side. Rick was mentioning there is lean manufacturing initiatives and so those type of things will offset any kind of competition in the future and we should be able to get through that and still perform at historical norms.

Unidentified Analyst

So if you look at Q3 how much was wheels impacted by those ramp up costs versus by raw materials?

Gregory Risch

I don’t have a dollar figure but I am guess somewhere around $0.5 million to $1 million. Basically related to training and excess cost of material getting through that. Some of the logistical costs, equipment and the move around within the plant disruptions.

Operator

We have no further questions at this time.

Richard Dauch

We appreciate your interest in our company. For those who are in the East Coast, we send you our best wishes for a quick recovery. We look forward to seeing all of you in December 5 and we will continue to put our nose in the grind stone and continue to fix this company. Thanks and have a great day.

Operator

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I would like to remind you that a replay of today's call will be available from 11:30 AM today until midnight Central Time on November 9, 2012. You can access the replay by calling 888-843-7419 in the United States, or 630-652-3042 internationally, and using access code 33645018. This concludes today's Accuride earnings call. Thank you again for participating. You may now disconnect.

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