Newalta Inc. (Newalta), a Canadian waste management and environmental services provider, has reported revenues of CAD597 million for the year-end 2008, up 19%, compared with the revenues of CAD499.9 million in the previous year-end. It has also reported net earnings of CAD58.9 million, or CAD1.40 per diluted share, for the year-end 2008, down 19%, compared with the net earnings of CAD61.2 million, or CAD1.51 per diluted share, in the previous year-end.
Performance in 2008 was strong, despite deteriorating market conditions and slumping commodity prices in the second half. Revenue was up 19% and EBITDA was up CAD29.5 million, or 31%, compared to 2007 and EBITDA per share increased to CAD3.00, said Al Cadotte, president and chief executive officer of crude oil that we recovered to our account from waste increased 11% and the average price that we realized was up from CAD62.20/bbl to CAD86.20/bbl. As a result of the volume and price improvement, the revenue generated from crude oil sales was up CAD12.5 million. Investments made in 2007, including the acquisition of the lead-acid battery recycling operation (VSC), contributed solid bottom-line results for the year. In 2008, we invested CAD104 million to expand services, to diversify the business, and to improve profitability. These investments will contribute to 2009 performance.
Activity remained relatively strong in the fourth quarter with revenue up CAD8.2 million and EBITDA up CAD1.1 million compared to 2007, despite a drop in crude oil sales of CAD2.0 million due to reduced prices, as well as non-recurring charges in excess of CAD3 million. Waste volumes were higher overall in 2008 and drill site equipment utilization improved from 28% in 2007 to 45% in 2008.
Compared to the third quarter of 2008, EBITDA declined CAD10 million from CAD37.4 million in Q3 to CAD27.6 million in Q4. The decline in crude oil prices from Q3 to Q4 of more than 50% resulted in reduced crude sales of CAD5.9 million which, combined with the non-recurring charges, accounted for the bulk of the decline in performance. Waste volumes and activity levels were generally comparable quarter-over-quarter.
Our markets have changed dramatically over the past six months with declining commodity prices and deteriorating market conditions across all Canadian sectors. In determining the dividend to be paid to our shareholders, the Board reviews, among other things, our historical financial performance and internal forecasts for the near term, including capital requirements, as well as the current economic environment. After review of all factors, and in light of volatility of our markets, our Board has declared a dividend of CAD0.05 per share to holders of record as at March 31, 2009. The Board will continue to review future dividends as financial performance is known and conditions stabilize.
We have taken prudent and responsible steps to manage expenses, improve profitability and productivity, strengthen our balance sheet, restrict capital expenditures, and review all of our business practices, as well as our organization. Our focus on strengthening the business through this challenging environment will better position Newalta to capitalize on opportunities as the economy recovers in the future.
Financial results and highlights for the three months ended December 31, 2008:
Revenue increased 6% to CAD145.3 million compared to 2007. Net earnings decreased 62% to CAD9.1 million primarily due to higher recoveries of future income taxes in 2007. Combined divisional net margin was up 2% over the prior year, to CAD33 million. EBITDA increased CAD1.1 million, or 4%, to CAD27.6 million compared to Q4 2007.
Western’s revenue and net margin(1) declined by 13% and 14% year-over-year, respectively, due primarily to the decline in crude prices, which dropped 29%. Waste processing volumes increased year-over-year as a result of growth in heavy oil business.
Utilization of our drill site equipment was up in both Canada and the US with total equipment in use up from 40 in 2007, to 73 in 2008. In Q4, the average equipment-in-use in the US increased by 186% compared to Q4 2007. Gains made in drill site were offset by a steep decline in environmental services.
Eastern’s performance in Q4 was strong with revenue and net margin up 43% and 57%, respectively, due to the contribution of acquisitions completed in Québec and Atlantic Canada in 2007 and strong event-based activity at the Stoney Creek Landfill (SCL).
Cash distributed to unitholders in Q4 was up 20% compared to last year, to CAD22.1 million.
SG&A costs increased, compared to last year by CAD2.5 million to CAD17.8 million. The increase was largely due to non-recurring costs of CAD1.7 million associated with the conversion.
Maintenance capital expenditures for the quarter were CAD8.5 million compared to CAD6.2 million in 2007. Growth and acquisition capital expenditures were CAD38.2 million.
Financial results and highlights for the year ended December 31, 2008:
The increase in EBITDA was primarily a result of strong commodity prices in the first three quarters of the year, combined with solid contributions from investments made in 2007 to grow and diversify our business.
Western’s revenue and net margin were up CAD7.7 million and CAD12.7 million respectively, compared to 2007. Oilfield’s results improved due to strong crude oil pricing and an increase of 11% in waste volumes compared to 2007. Overall drill site processing equipment utilization increased from 27% to 40%, mainly from continued improvement in Canada and equipment transfers to the US These improvements were offset by reduced demand for environmental services. Industrial’s performance was flat with higher finished product sales offset by reduced volumes.
Eastern’s revenue and net margin were up 60% and 87%, respectively. These increases were primarily due to the full year contribution of acquisitions completed in 2007. Eastern’s contribution as a percentage of total revenue grew to 40% in 2008, compared with 30% in 2007, largely due to the contribution from VSC. The full integration of 2006 and 2007 acquisitions contributed to growth of net margin as a percentage of revenue to 17% in 2008 compared to 15% for the same period in 2007.
Cash distributed to shareholders increased 9%, to CAD82.1 million. In 2008, monthly distributions per unit were CAD0.185 per unit for a total of CAD2.22 per unit for the year.
SG&A costs increased by CAD7.8 million to CAD62.1 million compared with CAD54.3 million in 2007. The increase was mostly due to the impact of acquisitions completed in 2007 and non-recurring costs.
Maintenance capital expenditures in the year were CAD20.8 million, a 20% increase over 2007. Improved utilization of our drill site processing equipment and upgrades at our western fixed facilities resulted in higher maintenance capital expenditures and accounted for most of the increase.
Growth and acquisition capital expenditures in the year were CAD104.4 million. The internal growth spending in 2008 related to expanding capacity at fixed facilities, equipment to expand Onsite and Drill Site services, improving productivity and enhancing market coverage across North America. Corporate growth spending was focused on Eastern’s SAP implementation and leasehold improvements.