|Annual Meeting CEO transcript, 5/17/07|
CEO John Stanik:
2006 was a critically important year for Calgon Carbon. It was a year of positive fundamental change. First, the e-engineering program was completed, a two year program of extensive, numerous changes that lowered costs, and significantly improved the efficiency of the company. Nearly $30MM of inflationary costs were offset by the improvements derived from the reengineering program. The company now has a stronger foundation, and is well positioned to take advantage of growth opportunities. I thank our shareholders who endured these last two years with patience and understanding.
A second fundamental change which occurred in 2006 was the new credit structure which was established in August. While stock prices fell during this process, I am happy to say that they have rebounded and are now at a higher price than they were prior to getting the structure in place. As a result of this
effort, our company has greater credit capacity and, at a significantly lower cost. The $55MM asset-based loan is currently untapped and provides us with flexibility to do what is strategically beneficial to grow Calgon Carbon.
The third fundamental change was the activated carbon anti-dumping petition against Chinese AC imports to the United States which was filed in April of 2006. While the petitioning process did not complete until March of 2007, we were
successful in getting preliminary tariffs of approximately 70% in place in October. This re-established a fair market place, one free from dumping, and allowed us to increase prices to pass on some of the inflationary cost increases which I mentioned earlier. Years of declining margin finally ended.
It is very gratifying to report three such important developments in one year. But there were many others also.
• Divestiture of the charcoal business at far greater than book value at the culmination of a three-year restructuring of the business. And there is potential for additional earn-out in 2007 and 2008.
• Successful resolution of the August 2005 Hurricane Katrina insurance claims for our Pearl River Plant which was flooded.
• A major global price increase initiative in the fourth quarter.
• Divestiture of the solvent recovery equipment business which had contributed to narrowing our focus on the core prospects of Calgon Carbon.
• Freezing the U.S. Salaried employee pension plan, a tough decision, but one that reduces our cost base and follows a national trend in employee benefits.
• Entry into the U.S. mercury removal from coal-fired power plants market, an activated carbon market opportunity that is currently projected to be the biggest application ever for activated carbon, potentially reaching as much or more than 1 billion pounds consumed every year.
• Completion of the 2007-2010 Strategic Plan update. An update containing numerous exciting growth opportunities, a plan which we will diligently execute.
I am also pleased to report that the company has made major progress on the legal front. The long awaited AST trial occurred in January and we received a $10MM award from the jury. This year we settled with Trojan regarding the UV
license fee litigation cases in Canada and New York and the New Jersey UV litigation concluded this April. Thus, the four cases which we have been litigating have been completed, pending only a potential appeal of the AST judgment. We expect our 2007 and future legal spending to be much less than in recent years.
We expect 2007’s performance to be much improved over last year. We will announce first quarter results today after the market closes. With the ability to pass on cost increases in the United States because of the anti-dumping tariff and because of our re-engineered base, we expect the company to return to profitability in 2007 and enjoy continued performance improvement in ensuing years. Major market opportunities are coming and we are well-positioned. Let’s review some of these opportunities.
I have already mentioned the flue gas mercury removal market for coal-fired power plants. This billion pound opportunity is expected to grow over the next seven to ten years. Calgon Carbon is very busy getting our products approved in
various states so that we can become a market leader early, and stay a market leader. A strategic sourcing plan for this market is also needed and we are preparing this plan. Single contracts are expected to be large and occupy large amounts of plant capacity so a proper pricing strategy will also be a key.
We remain very positive about our Ultraviolet Light technologies. Disinfection of drinking water and wastewater continues to be a major growth opportunity globally expected to reach billions of dollars over the next several years. Add to
this, products for taste and odor to complement activated carbon and products for water re-use and we will continue to gain more ground on our longer established competitors.