“Disciplined Core Price Growth and Continued Cost Control Focus Contributed to Solid Quarter Company Reaffirms Full-Year Guidance”
HOUSTON — (BUSINESS WIRE) — Apr. 29, 2015 —
Waste Management, Inc. (NYSE:WM) today announced financial results for its quarter ended March 31, 2015. Revenues for the first quarter of 2015 were $3.0 billion compared with $3.4 billion for the same 2014 period. Net loss(a) for the quarter was $129 million, or $0.28 per diluted share, compared with net income of $228 million, or $0.49 per diluted share, for the first quarter of 2014. On an as-adjusted basis, excluding certain items, net income would have been $227 million, or $0.49 per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2015 compared with $212 million, or $0.45 per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2014.(b)
The Company’s as-adjusted first quarter 2015 results exclude a $0.74 per diluted share loss on early extinguishment of debt as well as a $0.03 per diluted share impact from non-cash charges related to post-closing adjustments that reduced the gain on the sale of certain operations in 2014 and an impairment of a short-lived landfill asset. In order to provide a meaningful comparison to 2015 results, the Company’s first quarter 2014 results have been adjusted to exclude the earnings from businesses and assets divested in 2014, which provided $0.04 per diluted share to the first quarter of 2014.(b)
David P. Steiner, President and Chief Executive Officer of Waste Management, commented, “We are pleased with our first quarter results. We continue to see the benefit from disciplined core price growth and cost controls. Our adjusted net income, operating income and margin, and earnings per diluted share improved when compared to the first quarter of 2014, despite year over year headwinds of $0.03 per diluted share from lower recycling commodity prices and the unfavorable impact of foreign currency fluctuations.
“During the first quarter, we re-invested a portion of the proceeds from the sale of our waste-to-energy business. We completed the acquisition of Deffenbaugh Disposal. Once fully integrated, Deffenbaugh should add about $52 million of annual operating EBITDA.(b) We also refinanced high interest rate notes to generate interest savings in 2015 and beyond.”
KEY HIGHLIGHTS FOR THE FIRST QUARTER 2015
- Internal revenue growth from yield for collection and disposal operations was 2.0%.
- Core price, which consists of price increases and fees, other than the Company’s fuel surcharge, net of rollbacks, was 4.4%, up from 4.2% in the first quarter of 2014.(c)
- Internal revenue growth from volume in the Company’s traditional solid waste business declined 1.2% in the first quarter of 2015 versus a decline of 3.2% in the first quarter of 2014.
- Overall revenue declined by 10.5%, or $356 million. Virtually all of the $356 million revenue decline can be attributed to a $220 million decline from divestitures, a $70 million decline from lower recycling revenues, $36 million in lower fuel surcharge revenue and $25 million in foreign currency fluctuations. Looking at the solid waste side of the business, revenue was virtually flat, with increased revenue from high margin collection and landfill lines of business offsetting revenue declines in the lower margin residential and national account lines.
- Average recycling commodity prices were approximately 14.1% lower in the first quarter of 2015 compared with the prior year period. Recycling volumes declined 8.0% in the first quarter. In total, recycling operations negatively affected earnings by $0.02 per diluted share when compared to the prior year period.
- Operating expenses improved by $286 million compared to the prior year period. Excluding divestitures, operating expenses improved $131 million.(b) Lower fuel and subcontractor costs, lower commodity rebates, and continued route optimization drove the improvement. As a percent of revenue, operating expenses were 64.0% in the first quarter of 2015, as compared to 65.7% in the first quarter of 2014, an improvement of 170 basis points.
- SG&A expenses improved by $27 million compared with the first quarter of 2014. Excluding divestitures, SG&A expenses improved by $15 million compared with the first quarter of 2014.(b)
- Net cash provided by operating activities was $499 million, compared to $584 million in the first quarter of 2014, with divestitures driving $57 million of the decline. Capital expenditures were $233 million. The Company had $19 million of divestiture proceeds in the quarter.
- Free cash flow improved by $22 million, to $285 million, in the first quarter of 2015, compared to free cash flow for the first quarter of 2014. The comparison excludes the impacts to first quarter 2014 free cash flow of divested operations and assets.(b)
- The Company returned $176 million to shareholders in the form of dividends.
- The effective tax rate was approximately 41.0%. Adjusting for items excluded from the Company’s as-adjusted results, the tax rate was 34.2%, in line with the Company’s expected full-year tax rate of 35%.(b)
Steiner concluded, “First quarter results put us on track to achieve our full year guidance. Volumes in our traditional solid waste business were a negative 1.2% in the quarter, but we saw some very positive trends in our commercial and industrial lines. The rate of decline in our commercial volumes moderated and was 200 basis points better than the rate of decline in the first quarter of 2014. Similarly, our industrial volumes were 520 basis points better than the first quarter of 2014. Both lines of business had the lowest rate of decline in seven quarters. Consequently, although total revenue in the quarter was down more than we expected, the revenue decline was primarily in low margin lines or resulting from external factors like foreign currency. The revenue and volume trends in our most profitable lines of business are encouraging, and we expect them to improve as we see our normal seasonal upturn.
“At the beginning of the year, we gave guidance that our 2015 adjusted earnings per diluted share would be between $2.48 and $2.55 for the full year, including a negative $0.03 to $0.05 diluted earnings per share headwind from recycling commodities. The annual impact from the recycling business is now anticipated to be closer to $0.10 per diluted share. We will continue to work to improve our recycling contracts and to implement additional operational improvements. Despite the increased recycling headwind, we still anticipate adjusted earnings per diluted share to be within the guidance range. We also expect to achieve our full year free cash flow guidance of between $1.4 and $1.5 billion.”(b)
For purposes of this press release, all references to “Net loss” and “Net income” refer to the financial statement line items “Net income (loss) attributable to Waste Management, Inc.” and “Net income attributable to Waste Management, Inc.,” respectively.
(b) This press release contains a discussion of non-GAAP measures, as defined in Regulation G of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. The Company reports its financial results in compliance with GAAP, but believes that also discussing non-GAAP measures provides investors with (i) additional, meaningful comparisons of current results to prior periods’ results by excluding items that the Company does not believe reflect its fundamental business performance and are not representative or indicative of its results of operations and (ii) financial measures the Company uses in the management of its business. Accordingly, net income, earnings per diluted share, operating expenses, SG&A expenses, and our effective tax rate have been presented in certain instances excluding items identified in the reconciliations provided.
The Company’s projected full year 2015 earnings per diluted share is not based on GAAP net earnings per diluted share and are anticipated to be adjusted to exclude the effects of events or circumstances in 2015 that are not representative or indicative of the Company’s results of operations including the items excluded from our as-adjusted first quarter results. Projected GAAP earnings per diluted share for the full year would require inclusion of the projected impact of future excluded items, including items that are not currently determinable, but may be significant, such as asset impairments and one-time items, charges, gains or losses from divestitures or litigation, or other items. Due to the uncertainty of the likelihood, amount and timing of any such items, the Company does not have information available to provide a quantitative reconciliation of adjusted projected full year earnings per diluted share or projected earnings growth to a GAAP earnings per diluted share projection.
The Company also discusses free cash flow and provides projections of free cash flow. Free cash flow is a non-GAAP measure. The company discusses free cash flow because the Company believes that it is indicative of its ability to pay its quarterly dividends, repurchase common stock, fund acquisitions and other investments and, in the absence of refinancings, to repay its debt obligations. Free cash flow is not intended to replace “Net cash provided by operating activities,” which is the most comparable U.S. GAAP measure. However, the Company believes free cash flow gives investors useful insight into how the Company views its liquidity. Nevertheless, the use of free cash flow as a liquidity measure has material limitations because it excludes certain expenditures that are required or that the Company has committed to, such as declared dividend payments and debt service requirements. The Company defines free cash flow as: Net cash provided by operating activities less, capital expenditures plus, proceeds from divestitures of businesses (net of cash divested) and other sales of assets.
The Company’s definition of free cash flow may not be comparable to similarly titled measures presented by other companies, and therefore is not subject to comparison.
The quantitative reconciliations of non-GAAP measures used herein to the most comparable GAAP measures are included in the accompanying schedules, with the exception of projected earnings per diluted share. Non-GAAP measures should not be considered a substitute for financial measures presented in accordance with GAAP, and investors are urged to take into account GAAP measures as well as non-GAAP measures in evaluating the Company. Management refers to GAAP income from operations before depreciation and amortization as “operating EBITDA.”
(c) Core price is a performance metric used by management and is based on certain historical assumptions to allow for comparability between reporting periods.
The Company will host a conference call at 10:00 AM (Eastern) today to discuss the first quarter 2015 results. Information contained within this press release will be referenced and should be considered in conjunction with the call.
The conference call will be webcast live from the Investor Relations section of Waste Management’s website www.wm.com. To access the conference call by telephone, please dial (877) 710-6139 approximately 10 minutes prior to the scheduled start of the call. If you are calling from outside of the United States or Canada, please dial (706) 643-7398. Please utilize conference ID number 16632898 when prompted by the conference call operator.
A replay of the conference call will be available on the Company’s website www.wm.com and by telephone from approximately 1:00 PM (Eastern) Wednesday, April 29, 2015 through 5:00 PM (Eastern) on Wednesday, May 13, 2015. To access the replay telephonically, please dial (855) 859-2056, or from outside of the United States or Canada dial (404) 537-3406, and use the replay conference ID number 16632898.
The Company, from time to time, provides estimates of financial and other data, comments on expectations relating to future periods and makes statements of opinion, view or belief about current and future events. This press release contains a number of such forward-looking statements, including but not limited to statements regarding 2015 earnings per diluted share; 2015 free cash flow; future results from yield management and cost controls; refinancing of retired debt and related interest savings; volume trends and improvements; future recycling commodity prices; results from recycling operations; and operating EBITDA from the acquired Deffenbaugh Disposal operations. You should view these statements with caution. They are based on the facts and circumstances known to the Company as of the date the statements are made. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to be materially different from those set forth in such forward-looking statements, including but not limited to, increased competition; pricing actions; failure to implement our optimization, growth, and cost savings initiatives and overall business strategy; failure to identify acquisition targets and negotiate attractive terms; failure to consummate or integrate such acquisitions; failure to obtain the results anticipated from acquisitions; environmental and other regulations; commodity price fluctuations; disposal alternatives and waste diversion; declining waste volumes; failure to develop and protect new technology; significant environmental or other incidents resulting in liabilities and brand damage; weakness in economic conditions; failure to obtain and maintain necessary permits; labor disruptions; impairment charges; and negative outcomes of litigation or governmental proceedings. Please also see the Company’s filings with the SEC, including Part I, Item 1A of the Company’s most recently filed Annual Report on Form 10-K, for additional information regarding these and other risks and uncertainties applicable to our business. The Company assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statement, including financial estimates and forecasts, whether as a result of future events, circumstances or developments or otherwise.
ABOUT WASTE MANAGEMENT
Waste Management, based in Houston, Texas, is the leading provider of comprehensive waste management services in North America. Through its subsidiaries, the company provides collection, transfer, recycling and resource recovery, and disposal services. It is also a leading developer, operator and owner of landfill gas-to-energy facilities in the United States. The company’s customers include residential, commercial, industrial, and municipal customers throughout North America. To learn more information about Waste Management, visit www.wm.com or www.thinkgreen.com.
Waste Management, Inc.
Ed Egl, 713-265-1656
Toni Beck, 713-394-5093