Newalta's (NWLTF) CEO John Barkhouse on Q2 2016 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

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Newalta Corp (OTCPK:NWLTF) Q2 2016 Earnings Conference Call August 4, 2016 1:00 PM ET


Anne Plasterer - Executive Director, Investor Relations

John Barkhouse - President and Chief Executive Officer

Mike Borys - Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Linda Dietsche - Vice President, Finance


Brian Butler - Stifel

Anoop Prihar - GMP Capital

Raveel Afzaal - Canaccord


Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Sally, and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Newalta Corporation’s Second Quarter Results Conference Call. All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise. After the speakers’ remarks, there will be a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions].

Thank you. I would now turn the conference over to Anne Plasterer, Executive Director of Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

Anne Plasterer

Thank you, Sally. Welcome to Newalta’s conference call for the second quarter of 2016. On the call today, we have John Barkhouse, President and CEO; Mike Borys, Executive Vice President and CFO; and Linda Dietsche, Vice President of Finance.

During the call today, Newalta may make forward-looking statements relating to expected future performance. Such statements are based on current views and assumptions and are subject to uncertainties, which are difficult to predict, including expected operating results, industry conditions, the availability of financing alternatives, debt service and future capital needs. Certain financial measures that do not have any standardized meaning prescribed by GAAP will be referred to during this presentation. These measures are identified and defined in Newalta’s continuous disclosure documents. Please refer to our continuous disclosure documents as they identify factors, which may cause actual results to differ materially from any forward-looking statements.

For today’s call, Linda will highlight the financial results for the quarter, Mike will discuss the actions we have taken and the outlook for the year, and John will close with an update on the current business environment before we take your questions. Linda?

Linda Dietsche

Thank you, Anne. Performance in the second quarter of 2016 was above our guidance, reflecting the impact of our cost rationalization initiative, better commodity prices and improved volumes in heavy oil facilities.

Q2 revenues decreased 49% to $41.8 million compared to prior year. Approximately half of the decline was attributable to heavy oil onsite services, with the remaining balance due to lower production-related waste volumes.

Year-to-date revenue decreased 50% to $90.4 million from $179.4 million in the prior-year, driven by the same factors as the quarter. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $2.3 million compared to $15.5 million in the prior year. The decline was driven by a decrease in divisional EBITDA of $17 million, partially offset by G&A savings of $3.8 million.

Year-to-date adjusted EBITDA was $2.3 million, down $26 million over prior-year, driven by a decline in divisional EBITDA of $34.3 million, partially offset by G&A savings of $8.2 million. Factors that played through the latter half of 2015 continued into the first half of 2016 we’ve produced through shutting in wells, minimizing maintenance activities and deferring projects and capital spending.

In addition, we absorbed $4.5 million of impact from the Fort McMurray wildfires in the second quarter. Production-driven waste volumes in the quarter decreased by 17% over prior-year, with an increase at our heavy oil facilities partially offsetting a decline at our Canadian oilfield facilities.

Reduced production waste volumes drove $9.5 million of the $17 million decline in divisional EBITDA for the quarter and $20.4 million of the $34.3 million decline year-to-date. The balance of the decrease was primarily a result of lower drilling activity largely offset by cost savings realized in the first quarter. Our contract-model continued to provide steady predictable cash flows and represented 26% of our trailing 12 months revenue.

For the quarter and year-to-date, G&A decreased 35% and 33% to $7.1 million and $16.6 million respectively. The year-over-year improvement reflects the impact of our cost rationalization initiative. Capital expenditures were $1.3 million and $4 million in the quarter and year-to-date respectively.

We incurred $3.6 million in restructuring and other related costs during the second quarter, comprised of non-cash onerous contracts expense of $1.8 million and employee terminations and other costs of $1.8 million.

Looking at the results by divisions. Heavy oil revenue and divisional EBITDA decreased by 47% and 53% respectively to $19.5 million and $6.8 million compared to prior-year. These decreases were primarily driven by the Fort McMurray wildfires and the Syncrude MFT contract which remained in hibernation during the second quarter. Equipment for this contract at Syncrude's Southwest Sands site will be demobilized in the second half of the year. We are actively pursuing opportunities to redeploy these assets within our facility network or on other projects.

Oilfield revenue and divisional EBITDA decreased by 51% and 78% respectively to $22.3 million and $2.6 million compared to prior-year. Performance was driven by lower contribution through both oilfield facilities and drilling services business units, primarily due to reduced production and drilling activities.

I’ll now hand it over to Mike to discuss the near-term outlook.

Mike Borys

Thanks Linda. In responses to severe decline in activity levels in crude oil prices in 2015, that is extended into 2016, our focus continues to be on protecting our financial flexibility, our balance sheet and ultimately our ability to manage through this lower for longer environment.

I’ll review the actions we’ve taken to protect profitability and our balance sheet. During the first half of 2016, we completed cost rationalization actions which will drive incremental $15 million in annualized adjusted EBITDA savings with $12 million in 2016 by eliminating approximately 90 positions across G&A and operations and further consolidating office space. These actions combined with a 2015 initiatives have driven in excess of $50 million annualized and systemic savings over 2014 levels.

In fact in March 1, 2016, we amended the terms of our credit facility to extent the waiver of our total debt to EBITDA covenant to Q1 2018 and revised the senior debt to EBITDA interest coverage covenant threshold to provide improved flexibility in the current economic environment.

We suspended our quarterly dividend following the dividend paid to shareholders on January 15, 2016. And finally early in the second quarter, we underpin these actions with a successful equity financing to raise $51.4 million in net proceeds which reduced the amount drawn on our credit facility and provided further financial flexibility.

All of the actions we have taken to-date have helped us withstand this prolonged market downturn, protect against further market deterioration and position the companies when markets recover. As for our outlook, we expect performance in the second half to be substantially stronger than the first half. This is based on expected improvements in commodity prices, a slow but steady improvement in production volumes flowing into our facilities, targeted improvements in performance within our drill site business and the impact of management’s ongoing focus on cost managements.

For some color here, I would add that H2 and 2017 performance is less about the linear commodity price impact drove results but much more so related to the impact in an improving commodity price environment has unstabilized the market activity and more specifically production-related activity.

I’d highlight that between 2015 and the first half of 2016, we have lost approximately $65 million in adjusted EBITDA solely from reduced production waste volumes coming to our facilities. The greatest opportunity to tapping into our operating leverage will emanate from a recovery in production-related waste volumes and the pacing of that recovery.

Our 2016 guidance ranges are: revenue of $40 million to $60 million for the third quarter of 2016 and a $190 million to $220 million for the full year; adjusted EBITDA of $8 million to $12 million for the third quarter of 2016 and $20 million to $30 million for the full year.

Guidance range is quoted here and in our MD&A attempt to reflect the most recent downward trending in WTI over recent weeks. And of note, adjusted EBITDA in the second quarter would have been $6.8 million excluding the $4.5 million impact of the Fort McMurray wildfires, providing further support for both our Q3 and second half guidance even with the reduced oil prices we’ve been seeing in the first month of the quarter. We anticipate there will be minimal ongoing impact from the Fort McMurray wildfires to our adjusted EBITDA guidance for the second half of 2016.

We have done a good job of proactively structuring our business model for a lower for longer environment. Our equity financing, rationalization initiatives, amended credit facility, reduced capital spend and suspension of dividends, provides the liquidity and flexibility to operate in a sustained downturn and to flux with the anticipated and gradual pace of recovery.

We will continue to manage cash flows to ensure our financing obligations are met and spending is minimized wherever possible. Beyond 2016, subject to the pacing of recovery in oil price and activity levels, we will target positive cash flow after all cash financing tax and capital expenditures. Managing debt leverage and use of cash in capital are our highest priorities. We will remain within our debt covenants throughout the balance of the year.

Inherent in our business model is the capacity to leverage significant upside, once we start to see a recovery in oil pricing and activity levels and with minimal levels of capital to activate that leverage. As we’ve noted in the past and as sustained $50 WTI environment with associated activity levels, using 2015 operating results as a base, we would expect adjusted EBITDA to be in the range of $100 million to $140 million.

Further, we expect that operating leverage on recovery will be gradual as activity returns and stabilizes in those basins we serve.

I’ll now hand it over to John to provide more color on the overall business environments and our priorities.

John Barkhouse

Thanks Mike. While we are beginning to see improvements in certain areas of our business, performance in the first half of 2016 continues to be impacted by reduced drilling and completions activity and lower production waste volumes. We are proactively responded to the current environment by creating greater financial flexibility, in addition to permanently reducing costs and aggressively pursuing new business.

We believe our recent equity financing combined with previous actions taken to suspend dividends, rationalize the cost structure, improve flexibility in our credit facility and prudent capital spend for the year have positioned us to successfully maneuver through this downturn and optimize the operating leverage inherent in our business in the years ahead.

As Mike mentioned, the impact to adjusted EBITDA from the Fort McMurray wildfires was slightly lower than expected. Including this one-time impact, our adjusted EBITDA would have been $6.8 million, which provides a sense of what our trending was prior to the wildfires. I am very pleased and proud of the efforts of our people as we think we resumed operations in the area.

Throughout the commodity crisis, Newalta has focused internally on the assets of the business we directly control or influence. More importantly, Newalta’s focused significant energy in repositioning the company as a data-driven, lean, agile and customer-centric solutions provider.

The company has been executing an internal transformation to align Newalta’s capabilities with the evolving future of the E&P space. Our drilling services group has made some significant progress in the last 12 months, which doesn’t yet materially show up in the financial results due to drilling activity levels being at a generational low. However, Newalta is transforming the solids control segment by using real-time data and process optimization to lower the cost of drilling, while improving sustainability and reducing long-term land-filling liability for our customers.

In the last few quarters, we successfully demonstrated the value of our field vision data system and Envirmax [ph] system on our solids control assets. Through customer aligned key process indicators, real-time data acquisition, reporting and optimization, we’ve demonstrated the elimination of mixed soft material resulting in approximately 100 tons per well reduction in disposal, transportation and handling to and from the site.

We’ve demonstrated invert loss reductions from 30% oil on cuttings to 4.8% oil on cuttings resulting in 220 to 300 barrels per well of invert recovery versus previous competitor’s performance. The combination of invert recovery and mix off elimination reduced landfill liability by approximately 140 to 160 tons per well. These results have enabled the acquisition of incremental customer opportunities, including an additional six rigs awarded starting in the third quarter.

In the broader E&P space, the use of our modular capital structure has enabled us to demonstrate that processing waste versus disposal of waste is not only lower cost, it is environmentally the best option.

Our recent mobilization has demonstrated our ability to rapidly mobilize assets and to enable the reuse of high solid fluids from drilling, completions and production sources, with demonstrated disposal cost savings of 40% to 60%, a 50% to 60% reduction in chemical costs associated with treatment. This has enabled 20,000 to 30,000 barrels per month of water to be put back into the fracking cycle versus being disposed out into disposal network.

The net result of these savings include a reduction in truck traffic cost, the associated risk and environmental impact. We have capital available and ready to deploy on new opportunities and continue to see pull from the industry as these facts become more holistically understood. Our contracts remain a steady contributor at 26% of our trailing 12-month revenue, which we underpinned in the first quarter with an amended contract with a heavy oil customer to extend operations on their site through to December 31, 2017.

These and other opportunities we are pursuing allow us to demonstrate value and entrench Newalta in customer operations and in the supply chain. As expected during our transformation, it will take time to demonstrate a better way for our customers and convince them the risk of changes worth the reward.

I am pleased with the headway we are making in this regard and continue to see a greater cross-section of the customer base beginning to challenge their conventional practices from the well-head to the landfill in an effort to reduce cost and enhance their position on sustainable practices. When economics in doing the right thing align, great things happen for us, our customers and our industry. This is sustainability simplified and this is the unique value proposition of Newalta. I am pleased with the increase in momentum and providing solutions to our customer based on their pull.

Turning to our outlook, the remainder of the year is underpinned by reasonable assumptions, and while we see 2016 as a year of challenges, we will weather this downturn and emerge as a much stronger and leaner organization.

We see 2016 as the year we successfully weather the downturn and strengthen the platform to deliver our operating leverage. In 2017, we expect to see this operational leverage not only improve our adjusted EBITDA base but also improve our balance sheet and debt leverage metrics against the backdrop of a gradual pace recovery in the market environment.

Beyond 2017, we expect to continue to unlock our operating leverage and look to a reset of our growth phase. I believe the organization is prepared for the challenges of a fundamental industry change.

As we head into the next phase, we will demonstrate operational excellence and ingenuity as we protect our balance sheet and secure revenue and cost savings opportunities. We believe that Newalta is positioned to deliver excellent operational leverage as the activity levels in markets we serve gradually recover.

I will finish again by thanking our employees for their hard work and excellent operational results during the quarter and their key focus on safety and cost efficiency.

We’d now be pleased to take your questions.

Question-and-Answer Session


[Operator Instructions]. We’ll pause for just a moment to compile the Q&A roster. And your first question comes from the line of Brian Butler with Stifel. Your line is open.

Brian Butler

Good morning. Thank you for taking my questions.

John Barkhouse

Good morning.

Brian Butler

Just on the first part on the EBITDA in this quarter. So this was much better than what you guys were looking for and exceeded your expectations. Could you give a little color on how that breaks down, like where that beat came from? Was it kind of commodity prices, volumes, cost reductions, just looking for a little bit of the distinction of where the strength was?

Mike Borys

It was actually spread across a number of factors. So one would have been that we came in at a higher end of the commodity range that we had provided, so part of this is going to be higher commodity prices. We did have the benefit of cost rationalization, so that came in a little bit better than where we would have been pegging the quarter based on actions we’ve taken as well as additional actions we took. We did have increased volumes at heavy oil and that was driven from SAGD as opposed to [indiscernible] conventional heavy oil, so that was - again that was a big - that was a positive given that we had the fire which eventually shut much of that market down in May and part of June. So, good strong April was big part of it in terms of volumes at heavy oil.

And yes, again good margin management within oilfield as well as within heavy oil, so it was across the board. We weren’t overly surprised. It was kind of coming in as we were beginning to see the quarter. We were beginning to see that it was good steady. There wasn’t one big event that helped cause the positive variance, good strong improvement across the board.

Brian Butler

Okay. And it sounds like on the drilling side, and the volumes in general, looking like we’re coming off some type of bottom is down 50% drilling activity in the second quarter and you’re looking for 30% to 40% decline kind of third quarter. How did this look in July and is that the right way to think about it as kind of we found the bottom and things are starting to improve from a volume perspective?

John Barkhouse

Go ahead.

Mike Borys

I was going to add, rig count has certainly been - we are seeing rig count improve. So we would have been - in the second quarter, we would have been in the lows of 20 or so in terms of active rigs. We’re currently closer to 96 to 100 rigs. So rig activity is actually improving. So we would expect to see some improvement coming into Q3 coming out of spring break out here in Canada. So again we’re seeing some positive aspects from the macros and then from our own internal drill site solutions and the kinds of things we’re doing with Anadarko as well as with other customers, we are getting that pull that John spoke to earlier in his comments.

Brian Butler

Okay. And next on guidance going into second half, how should we think about the sequential improvement? I mean, you gave the third quarter - I mean, is this the right way to think about it? Seasonally you took we see a little downturn in the fourth quarter or because of the changes in the kind of the trend that we’re seeing here that this is going to be flat to up going third quarter to fourth quarter when you think about EBITDA trend?

John Barkhouse

It’s hard to speak to like given where we are in the environment, I mean the stability in the environment will have a big impact in terms of how does Q3 look to Q4. My quick and dirty analysis and I’ll focus on Q3, if you look to Q2, we came in at $2.3 million. You add back the impact, the one-time impact of the wildfires, you’re now close $6.8 million or call it $7 million. Q2 is depressed because its spring breakup, you can make an adjustment for spring break up and get to a run rate of closer to that $9 million.

Our range right now for Q3 is $8 million to $12 million, $20 million to $30 million for the full year. But it certainly gives us a bit of confidence in terms of how we’re looking at for the full year as well as obviously how we’re looking at it for Q3. But Q2 to Q3, my quick and dirty should give some comfort and confidence in terms of how we’re looking at to build for the balance of the year.

The wildcard is going to be what’s happening with the oil price. So we’re seeing a little bit of stability in the last couple of days closer to the $40 to $41. We had good stability closer to $45 as we were coming out of Q2. So again we’ve tried to take that into account in our guidance range with our WTI range of $40 to $45, but that is going to be the wildcard. It’s not so much that $40 become $45 so to stabilize at some price point because then that will have an impact on us eventually seeing production volumes coming through as producers address the wells that had been shut in.

Brian Butler

And if we see that kind of stabilization in the pricing as well as kind of the volumes then continuing in the positive trend, looking at 2017 and the pace that you’re going to exit ‘16 is if you’re kind of in that, call it, $10 million a quarter of $8 million to $10 million, I mean - and then you add back the benefits, you’re going to see obviously the wildfire will not reoccur. And I think if I caught it right, was there another $12 million of cost savings that will show up in ‘17?

Mike Borys

Yes, you’ll have - so from an annualized perspective, we had - in 2015 we had $40 million of annualized. 2016, we’ve now spoken to $15 million, so we keep holding in excess of $50 million, so the math will kind of put you to closer to $55 million. The rollover impact into 2017 will be closer to a $5 million number. So in terms of the calendar impact of what we’ll see in 2016, we won't see all of it. We’ll see a rollover of about $5 million coming into 2017.

Brian Butler

So if you’re running at $10 million - let's call it $8 million to $10 million a quarter, you’re somewhere in that close to $40 million of EBITDA for ‘17 plus the rollover benefit and the non-recurrence of the wildfire, that’s kind of in the $40 million to $50 million range for ‘17. Am I thinking about that just completely wrong or is that a reasonable range?

Mike Borys

I’m not trying to give a guidance but again I would probably indicate that has to be on the lower end when you think about - again we haven't seen the production volumes coming at us. That hasn’t been part of performance to-date. There is going to be a lag there. So again you are thinking about it right in thinking what would a normalized Q3 be. We can get into debate over given where oil prices are and where they will be, what’s the right level of EBITDA. You’re thinking about it right way. I just think you’re probably at the lower end.

Brian Butler

Okay. And then one last one, did you say free cash flow was expected to be positive in ‘17 and are you defining that as cash from op less CapEx?

Mike Borys

Yes, so we’re - again it’s going to depend on the pacing of the stability in the environment and the pacing of the recovery. So a big part of that will be how do we see production volumes coming to our facilities. So given how that plays out, then we would be looking - again it all depends on how that plays out. We’d be looking at being positive cash. And our definition of positive cash is really how much cash you have at the end of the day to pay down your debt. So it’s after everything. It’s after financing costs, maintenance capital, growth capital, tax, whatever else you’re spending money on, we would - we’re moving towards that model of being positive cash flow generating so that you’re now paying down debt as opposed to building debt and working towards the leverage target.

Brian Butler

Okay, great. Thank you very much. That was all my questions.

Mike Borys

Great. Thanks.


[Operator Instructions]. And your next question comes from the line of Anoop Prihar with GMP Capital. Your line is open.

Anoop Prihar

Good morning. Just a couple of questions please. First of all, the interest expense for the quarter was about $11 million but that included a substantial portion of, I think, is non-recurring. I’m just trying to understand what shall we thinking about in terms of your recurring interest expect on a going forward quarterly basis?

Mike Borys

Yes, Q2 had distortion of - there is an adjustment for accretion expense associated with decommissioning liability having to do with the discount rate. So I’m going to call that $3 million to $4 million of non-cash and accounting adjustments that would have distorted with finance expense look like. Your cash financing for the most part, I kind of point back to using the interest rates on the debentures of $275 million and then given where our debt levels are that will - you will kind of get your cash amount and quick math will kind of put you at $20 million to $22 million or $23 million in terms of cash costs but you’re always going to get an accounting financing cost that will be slightly different because of where discount rates may be going and adjustments we have to book quarter-to-quarter.

Anoop Prihar

And should we anticipate any additional restructuring costs being incurred over the balance of the year?

Mike Borys

We don’t have anything forecast for the balance of the year. And again it wasn’t overly material in Q2 with the $3.6 million. So if there is anything, it would be minimal or immaterial, so I think for the most part, I don’t want to say that we’re done because we’re going to continue to look at opportunities but nothing material has been flagged at this point.

Anoop Prihar

Okay. And then just the last question, it comes back to trying to get my head around the whole notion of what your current run rate is. So if we say that the adjusted EBITDA for Q2 was, call it, $7 million, and your guidance suggest that for the balance of the year we’re going to be running somewhere around, call it, $10 million for the Q3 and Q4, the incremental three that we’re looking at which those numbers will suggest, how does that breakdown between increased volumes, increased prices and just reduction in the step change?

Mike Borys

So we’re actually right now not forecasting any material improvements in production volumes coming to our facilities. For the most part when we look at oilfield and we look at heavy oil, we’re looking at what have we averaged over the last four to five quarters in terms of production waste volumes, I’m thinking could be meter that are coming into oilfield. So for the most part, roughly we’re not counting on a huge incremental bump on oilfield and I say the same for heavy oil. Heavy oil there maybe a - there will be a marginal improvement that we’re looking at, but again we have to factor SAGD volumes coming in as well as the conventional heavy oil volumes coming in.

So we’re not seeing - we’re not being aggressive at all in terms of production volumes coming into our facilities. The factor that you have to look at is the incremental impact of - again we did take some incremental cost rationalization action, so that will add to the run rate, the buildup of what a normalize Q2 run rate is. You’ll have to normalize the spring breakup. There is an assumption that oil will improve a little bit through the balance of the year, not dramatically. So the direct linear on oil price isn't overly material but that will have an impact in terms of building to a proper quarterly run rate.

But the big - again, I come back to the big wildcard we’re going to have is where we don’t have a linear relationship, all has to do is how do production volumes come back. We are going to - and we never count on getting 100% of it back. So they are going to come back and we’re not going to get overly anxious over the pacing of how that comes back, because we are fairly confident, very confident that we’re weathering 2016. We’ve done all the actions. We’ve taken all the actions we have to take.

As John laid out in his opening remarks, 2016 was about, we’re going to weather the downturn based on the actions we’ve taken. 2017, we’re going to tap into that operating leverage we always talk about $100 million to $140 million. We’re not suggesting we’re going to be at $100 million to $140 million but you’re going be at some midpoint based on how production volumes come out to.

And when you do that and you follow through on the map, all your balance sheet metrics fall in place. Your total leverage falls in place. Your senior leverage and your interest coverage, all fall into healthy level. And then, again as John has indicated, you move into 2018 and you’re into a reset of your growth and you’re off to the rates in terms of being that much more healthier and growing the company.

Anoop Prihar

Thank you very much.

Mike Borys



Your next question comes from the line of Raveel Afzaal with Canaccord. Your line is open.

Raveel Afzaal

Good morning, guys. Thank you for hosting the call. A question regarding the sensitivities that you’ve provided in the past, that’s my only question. So when I look at the drilling sensitivities, is it safe to assume that they have decreased? Previously you had said that a 5% change will have a $2 million to $3 million EBITDA impact. My guess is that now that we are at a much lower drilling activity rate, that rate is plateauing and maybe it’s not $2 million to $3 million anymore. That’s what I at least see from Q2 and maybe it’s still $2 million to $3 million on the upside but not in this environment in which we are in right now.

Mike Borys

So I think I’d be agreeing with you Raveel. The factor that would weigh into the linear component would be some of the actions that we’re taking. So what will impact, whatever that drilling decline will be and what the EBITDA impact will be, will be mitigated by, I think, some of the gains that we’re making in terms of providing new solutions to customers and getting new customers and getting a bit of that that pull that John had referred to. So that will - I think the sensitivity works well when we are coming down to where we are coming down to, but you’re absolutely right in terms of does that sensitivity absolutely apply given where we’re at as well as given all of the factors that play. So I think I’m agreeing with you.

Raveel Afzaal

All right guys. That’s all I had. Thank you.

Mike Borys

Great. Thanks Raveel.


There are no further questions at this time. Ms. Plasterer, I’ll turn the call back over to you.

Anne Plasterer

Thank you, Sally. Thank you for being on the conference call today. A taped broadcast of the call is available on our website and we look forward to providing you with an update on our performance after the completion of the third quarter of 2016.


Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your participation. This concludes today’s conference call. You may now disconnect.

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