Ormat Technologies' (ORA) CEO Dita Bronicki on Q1 2014 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

| About: Ormat Technologies, (ORA)
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Ormat Technologies, Inc. (NYSE:ORA) Q1 2014 Earnings Conference Call May 9, 2014 9:00 AM ET


Brad Nelson - IR

Dita Bronicki - CEO

Yoram Bronicki - President and COO

Doron Blachar - CFO

Smadar Lavi - VP of Corporate Finance and IR


Dan Mannes - Avondale


Good morning. And welcome to the Ormat Technologies' First Quarter 2014 Earnings Conference Call. All participants will be in a listen-only mode (Operator Instructions). Please note this call is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to Brad Nelson of KCSA Strategic Communications. Please go ahead.

Brad Nelson

Thank you, Emily. Hosting the call today are Dita Bronicki, Chief Executive Officer; Yoram Bronicki, President and Chief Operating Officer; Doron Blachar, Chief Financial Officer; and Smadar Lavi, Vice President of Corporate Finance and Investor Relations.

Before beginning, we would like to remind you that the information provided during this call may contain forward-looking statements relating to current expectations, estimates, forecasts and projections about future events that are forward-looking as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.

Before beginning, we would like to remind you that the information provided during this call may contain forward-looking statements relating to current expectations, estimates, forecasts and projections about future events that are forward-looking as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.

These forward-looking statements generally relate to the company’s plans, objectives and expectations for future operation and are based on management’s current estimates and projections, future results or trends. Actual future results may differ materially from those projected as a result of certain risks and uncertainties. For a discussion of such risks and uncertainties, please visit risk factors as described in Ormat Technologies’ Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the SEC on February 28, 2014.

In addition, during the call we will present non-GAAP financial measures, such as EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA. Reconciliations to the most directly comparable GAAP measures and management’s reasons for presenting such information is set forth in the press release that was issued last night, as well as in the slide posted on our website. Because these measures are not calculated in accordance with U.S. GAAP, they should not be considered in isolation from our financial statement prepared in accordance with GAAP principles.

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

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

Dita Bronicki

Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us today for the presentation of our first quarter 2014 results and outlook for the near future. In addition to the team that is hosting this call, we also have with us today Isaac Angel who joined Ormat on April 1 and will be succeeding me as CEO when I retire on July 1.

Let’s turn to the presentation. Slide 4 and 5 present the financial and operational highlights for the quarter. Doron will go into the numbers in detail in a minute. We are pleased with the strong financial and operational results for the first quarter. In the electricity segment we’ve continued to focus on a multi stage approach to development. The Olkaria III complex in Kenya which had a significant contribution to this quarter results provide a perfect example of the benefit of this approach.

In February, we completed plan III at the complex, three month ahead of schedule, building the total capacity of Olkaria III to 110 megawatt. The staged approach helped us minimize delays and maximize the efficiency by making sure we completely understand the resources we are developing.

The product segment continue to be robust in terms of revenue and in terms of margin, and with the expected closing of the solar financing in the next month. The performance of the product segment will gain an important base for the next three years.

With that said, I would like to turn the call over to Doron, to review the financial results. Yoram will then provide a review for operation and I will return for closing remarks before opening the calls for Q&A, Doron?

Doron Blachar

Thank you, Dita, and good morning everyone. Let me provide an overview of our financial results for first quarter of 2014. Starting with Slide 7 -- total revenues for the first quarter of 2014 were $142.4 million, a 19.8% increase of revenue of $108.9 million in the first quarter of last year.

In our electricity segment, as you can see on Slide 8, revenue grew 38.8% to $94.8 million in first quarter of 2014 over $68.3 million in first quarter of 2013. The increase was primarily due to the new capacity coming online and then increase in generation from our existing portfolio.

In addition, energy under the Standard Offer number 4 contract and under the new contract signed for Zunil in Mammoth G1 and G3 were higher this quarter compare to 2013.

As it is being our policy since 2012, we continue to take action to mitigate the impact of natural gas prices on our Electricity Segment through our hedging activity. We have entered into relative transaction different actually, with a fixed price of $4.07 per MMbtu for the year 2014 to use our exposure the fluctuation in natural gas prices through December 31, 2014.

We entered into a hedge contract with $4.95 per MMbtu from the period from January 1 2015 until March 31, 2015. As a result of our hedging activities for the first quarter we recorded a net loss on derivatives transaction on oil and natural gas prices of $2.4 million compare to $4.6 million during the same period in 2013.

The first quarter in 2014, the loss was compensated with higher revenue in amount of $2.2 million of the higher natural gas prices compare to the hedge price. Excluding hedging adjustment, electricity revenues increase 73.3% year-over-year.

In the product segment on Slide 9, revenue for the first quarter of 2014 was $47.6 million. The 5.9% decrease year-over-year was primarily due to a reduction in new customer orders in 2013 in total revenue acquisition.

Moving to Slide 10, the company’s combined growth margin for the first quarter of 2014 was 37.5% compare to 22.5% in the first quarter of 2013. In the electricity segment, gross margin for the first quarter of 2014 were $37.8 million or 39.8% compare to $13.2 million or 19.3% in the first quarter of 2013.

There are few reasons for the significant improvement in the gross margin this quarter, as it was mainly to build revenues for those of the costs of revenue [Indiscernible]. In the product segment gross margin for the first quarter 2014, we find $15.7 million or a 32.9% compared to $13.6 million or 26.8% in the first quarter of 2013.

The increase in the product gross margin is mainly attributable to the different product mix and margin into various sales on track that we have. Moving to Slide 11, operating income in the first quarter of 2014 was $42.6 million or 29.9% of revenue compared to operating income of $7.7 million or 6.5% of revenue in the same period of last year.

The increase was primarily due to the growth in the electricity segment gross margin, as well as a $9 million of early termination fees that’s almost same in the first quarter of 2013. Operating income attributable for electricity segment for the first quarter of 2014 was $30.9 million compare to an operating loss of $1.7 million for the first quarter of 2017.

Operating income attributable for our product segment for the first quarter of 2014 was $11.7 million compare to a $9 million for the first quarter of 2013. Moving to Slide 12, interest expense net of capitalized interest for the first quarter of 2014 with $20.5 million compare to $15.9 million for the first quarter of 2013, this interest was primarily due to the two new loan were perceive for OPIC in 2013.

Moving to Slide 13, net income attributable for the company stockholder for the first quarter of 2014 with $21.6 million or $0.07 per diluted share compare to a net loss of $5 million attributable to the company’s stockholder for the first quarter of 2013.

On March 26, 2014 we signed an agreement with RET Holdings to sell the Heber Solar project in California for $35.25 million. We have seen the first payment of $15 million with the remainder expected to be paid in the second quarter of 2014, probably to fulfillment of certain milestone.

Due to certain contingency on the sales agreement we defer the pre-tax gain for approximately $7.5 million until fulfillment of the condition subsequent which is expected in the second quarter of 2014.

As shown on slide 14, adjusted EBITDA for the first quarter of 2014 was $70.6 million compare to $45.7 million for the first quarter of 2013 representing a 54.4% interest. Net cash provided by operating activities or $68.1 million for the first quarter of 2014 compare to $18.2 million in the first quarter of 2013.

Moving to Slide 15, cash and cash equivalents as of March 31, 2014 was $47.9 million that company slides [Indiscernible] report. Our long-term debt as of March 31, 2014, in the payment schedule are presented in Slide 16 of the presentation. The average cost of this stands at 6.1%.

On May 8, 2014, Ormat’s Board of Directors approved a payment of quarterly dividend of $0.05 per share. The dividend will be paid on May 13, 2014, to shareholders of record as of May 21, 2014. We still pay quarterly of $0.05 per share for the next two quarters 2014.

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

Yoram Bronicki

Thank you, Doron and good morning everyone. Moving to Slide 18, the total generation for the first quarter of 2014 was approximately 1.2 million megawatt hours, which is an increase 15.5% from last year. The growth in generation as a result of expansion program of 2012 and 2013 and specifically the contributions of Plants 2 and 3 in Olkaria and the Don A. Campbell Plant in Nevada. As Doron mentioned, the electricity segment had direct revenue and very high gross margin.

The growth in the margin was mainly due to the addition of the new facilities that were described earlier; however, the margin also benefited from a reduction in our specific operating cost from $35 to $30 megawatts hour. Part of this reduction is lasting and is driven by the addition of the modern plants with the specific characteristics of their well fields and plant design that provide the marginal generation at a lower cost. Another part of the reduction in cost this quarter is driven by timing, and we expect higher operating expenses in the second quarter of this year.

Moving to Slide 19, in the yearend earning call, we discussed our future growth plans. As a summary, our budget includes new projects and late stage development projects that should support our growth and may add between 120 and 150 megawatts. Here is an update on more advanced projects. The work that was completed in McGinness Hills in Phase 2 include the developing all the required Zunil production capacity, equipment manufacturing and the start of civil work. The new power plant is expected to come on by mid 2015.

In Honduras, we’re getting ready for drilling and we’ll spot our first well towards the end of the second quarter. In our operating plants, we currently had two significant improvement projects. The Heber 1 upgrade project will enable the CapEx to maintain 92 megawatts and support the extended contract what we signed earlier this year, actually it’s late last year. This is substantial improvement of the plant that was constructed in 1985 that includes the modernized turbine, the modern generator, the modern control system the addition of new wells in the conversion of some of the old well.

To allow for this substantial upgrade the Heber 1 Plant went through scheduled shutdown in late March and the work on the power block and balance of plant has been progressing. At the time of this call, all the major pieces of equipment have been installed and we’re in the process of commissioning the different subsystems with the completion target of no later than June 1st. Anticipated net impact of this project on our second quarter revenue compared to the second quarter of 2013, net income is about $1.8 million reduction. And this has been incorporated in our revenue guidance for 2014.

Another ongoing project is refurbishment of G3 Plant at the Mammoth complex in California replacing all the units with Ormat manufactured equipment to optimize the operations of the complex. We expect to complete the refurbishment in 2015 and do not expect it to have any impact on revenue in 2014.

On March 28, 2014, the Sarulla consortium of which we hold a 12.75% stake secured $1.17 billion in project financing for the 330 megawatt project in Indonesia. Closing is expected in the second quarter of 2014 at which point the consortium will begin construction. The first phase is expected to third operation in 2016. The remaining two phases are scheduled to be in commercial operation within 18 months of first phase.

As a reminder, we’ll supply our Ormat energy convertors to the power plant and we’ll add the $254 million supply contract to our product segment backlog once notice to proceed is issued. We expect to recognize revenue from the project over the course of the next three to four years starting in the fourth quarter of 2014. We have 35 prospects in early exploration where activity is yet to begin in the U.S., Chile, Guatemala, New Zealand and Indonesia. In addition to adding capacity, we will continue to seek technical and commercial opportunities to improve existing plants. Slide 20 provides for an update on the product segment. Our backlog remains substantial at the $120.4 million excluding the $254 million Sarulla supply contract.

Let me turn the call over to Dita.

Dita Bronicki

Thank you, Yoram. If you could please turn to Slide 22, you will see our updated CapEx requirement for the remainder of the 2014. We plan to invest the total of $97 million in capital expenditure a new project under constructions or enhancement.

An addition $93 million is budgeted for development, exploration activities, maintenance capital for operating projects and investments in machinery and equipment, as well as $68.1 million for debt repayment.

The funding of this program will come from cash on hand at the end of third quarter of 2014, expected cash from operation, annual corporate line of credits and from an expected financing of the McGinness Hills Phase 2 project, which is covered under the existing financing structure for OFC 2 senior secured note benefitting from the deal from long guarantee program.

Turning to Slide 23, we outlined our revenue outlook for 2014. For the full year 2014, we equate our electricity segment revenue to be between $370 million and $380 million. And product segment revenue to be between $170 million and $180 million. The product segment guidance includes $36 million from the solar projects which are subject to the financial close.

As we guided in the year-end earning call, we expect product revenue to decrease beyond the second quarter, before strengthening towards the end of the year. The expected release of the solar supply contract letter this quarter than the financial closing of the projects will occur, will garner a continued strong product segment not only in 2014, but also in the next three years.

The first quarter was a very strong quarter, while we expect second quarter as a whole to be relative quick quarter, our expectation are that 2014 as a whole is going to be stronger than 2013, mainly as a result of the new power plants in the electricity segment which has better power prices and lower operating costs. And also due to the product segment as explained earlier.

Before opening up the call for questions, let me finalize the general business environment we are in. Renewable energy or clear clean environment. A huge change that appeals since the IPO for Ormat and also since Ormat started to build geothermal power plant.

Total investment in renewable energy which was minimal 10 years ago, go to an annual number or hovered in $91.2 million in 2013. And so our debt price is out at the short of $5 million Btu. Renewable is 5% or 6% of the U.S. power market; renewable is 70% of all new capacity coming online in the United States.

Stock market yield is projected for renewable energy company, until solved solutions are developed, the all of geothermal, while a small participant in the development of our Zunil is important as it is very low and cancel as integration cost mitigation. Ormat is well position to continue to grow in this positive and encouraging business environment. With that I would like to thank you for your support and at this time the call is open for questions. Operator.

Question-and-Answer Session


(Operator Instructions) And our first question is from Dan Mannes of Avondale. Please go ahead.

Dan Mannes - Avondale

So a couple of follow-up questions just for the quarter end (ph). And my apologies I missed the first couple of minutes. But can you may be walk -- can Doron go back over comments as it relates to number one the hedging activity for 2015? And secondly as it relates to the first quarter energy, because my understanding was your hedges were sort of return swaps so I would had thought you would have had a bigger lost in the first quarter, given how much natural gas prices went up. So can you maybe walk back through those two items for me?

Doron Blachar

Sure, Dan. Regarding 2015, we hedge a Q1 for natural gas prices with hedging four line define compare to the 47 we could have this year. And it’s a process that we keep on doing, looking forward and trying to find the right timing tool to hedge. And regarding the first quarter we actually mark-to-market on our hedging contracts so we mark-to-market at the end of December and Q1 we have the net impact of the hedge actually was a loss of $2.4 million and will compensated with $2.2 million this regards from the higher prices. And this is the mix between the natural gas and the oil on the natural gas practice that we had a little bit higher loss and on the oil we’ve got some money back. The net impact was 2.2 revenue that we got -- additional revenue in a loss of 2.4 on the hedging.

Dan Mannes - Avondale

Right so basically since natural gas prices started moving up late last year you’re saying a lot of hedge impact actually the fourth quarter of last year rather than this year?

Doron Blachar

Yes, last year we had hedges about $2.5 million in Q4.

Dan Mannes - Avondale

Okay got it. So that was already anticipated somewhat in the swap that makes sense. Looking really quickly on the development side, can you give us any update on some of the non-named development projects like CD-4 and Carson, we just seem some headlines that looks like there maybe some challenges as relates to water for CD-4 and I wasn’t sure that was long that went down?

Doron Blachar

The CD-4 is an air-cool project so there is no water consumption and we just need to go through the permitting the process. The opposing party is the Water Board. In our mind, there is no reason for opposition so I guess it’s -- what we need is ridiculous and slow process of consensus building and making sure that everybody understands that our projects do not have any impact on freshwater and on the water table in general. So, its part -- I mean, this is why permitting takes, sometime takes longer. You need to work with people, educate them and since fundamentally we help environment. We think that fundamentally we’ll prevail.

Dan Mannes - Avondale

Okay and last thing and I probably should have asked this first is, a margin on the electric side in the quarter was very strong I think this probably the strongest first quarter we’ve seen maybe this strongest quarter we’ve seen on from a margin perspective. I know you’ve discussed a little bit about how some of that due to timing of outages, but as you look over the course of the year how good an indicator is this where margins could fall out on a full year basis?

Doron Blachar

So I think the part it is that we have the little more visibility into it of course is generation things maybe happen but our understanding of our wells field is fairly good and also the expectation for what ambient temperature will do. So I think for us really and this what we try to stress that the big part of the story here is the fact that we’ve -- all our work -- say Dita’s work to push our growth resulted in additional plants and our sales are real. This is many more megawatt hours that we sold and actually under a good contract. So I think that top line on sales this is here to stay is very real. There is another maybe another element to this that is worth stressing and this is that is historically -- I mean our plan is to always make more power in the first quarter.

But our historical the legacy contracts mostly the California contract really favorite generation in the summer. So generation was always high in revenue was not necessarily that high in the fourth and first quarter but as we move away from the California contract as they are less of -- have small share in our overall generation. And most of our other contracts are ones that favor generation. We do see strengthening of the margins in the fourth and first quarter where the generation is high because of lower ambient temperatures and I think that’s also Mr. Nadav is better person to quantify this in detail.

But I think that is you think about what change in Ormat between past and present its additional capacity, good contracts and actually contracts that favor more generation that this disparity is gone. Now when it comes to cost again some the fact that we have bigger portion of our fleet our plants that have easier well fields to operator this benign chemistry high productivity wells all this translate into lower specific cost. And there is it’s always good to be fortunate so there some expenses that may not take place at all that we’re scheduled for first quarter or some that move from first to second quarter. But I think that there are very real fundamentals that should cause us and you to be optimistic about the company going forward.

Dan Mannes - Avondale

Okay. That’s helpful.

Dita Bronicki

But let me be the golden person here. The [indiscernible] of the first quarter is most indicative. I think it’s important.

Dan Mannes - Avondale

It’s high but it sounds like the trend is clearly to improvement relatively as we’ve seen in the past maybe just not to this level.

Doron Blachar

Q1 basically is higher but we do see on continuing to comparing to last year improve the gross margin recently.

Dan Mannes - Avondale

Okay and my last question here. You did mention obviously some shifting of the outage timing, can you maybe talk about which plants and was this discretionary decision given the high price of energy during the first quarter or was this already preplanned?

Doron Blachar

Actually in terms of the outages there wasn’t any shifting because it takes -- it requires so much planning that it’s not a -- we typically do not move it just for other reasons but it’s for instance we have an estimate on how many pumps we will have to replace in all of our the 100 in some production was that we have. So we typically have a plan and budget that is based on experience but we rarely pull a pump out of the well unless we need to do this.

So based on the condition monitoring of wells that was done in the first quarter, we did not feel that we needed to do any well work. That was pushed into the future quarter. But since the statistic says that we need to go through some many pumps in a year than the fact you haven’t done much in the first quarter -- we’d directionally tell you that you’ll do more in the next quarter. So timing issues are of that nature it’s typically we didn’t have to spend the money at the moment but it doesn’t mean that money won’t get spend.


(Operator Instructions) I’m showing no further questions at this time. This will conclude our question-and-answer session. I’d like to turn the conference back over to management for any closing remarks.

Dita Bronicki

And hopefully we’re closing this now, but thank you for the opportunity to say goodbye because this is my last call. Thank you for your support.


Thank you. The conference is now concluded. Thank you for attending today’s presentation. You may now disconnect.

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