Moderator: Harry Kletter
March 22, 2010
Operator: Good afternoon. My name is (Rachel) and I will be your conference operator today. At this time I would like to welcome everyone to the 2009 Operating Highlights 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. If you would like to ask a question during this time, simply press star, then the number one on your telephone keypad. If you would like to withdraw your question, press the pound key. Thank you.
Mr. Kletter, you may begin your conference.
Harry Kletter: Hello, everybody. Thanks for listening. I’d like to give you a little (preliminary). If you have a computer handy to you, go to isa-inc.com. Upon that, hit “company” and then hit “headquarters.” The reason for that is you’ll have a view of the (art) as we – and the facility as we’re talking.
Well, most of all, I want to tell you the company is hitting on all cylinders. And the most important part about that is that we are presently reporting our earnings for 2009 which was one of the most difficult years since the Depression.
Of course, we’ve had our 10-K just released about a half hour ago. We had our release in the morning and I want to tell you we’re hitting on all cylinders. We showed a $181 million in sales compared to $100 million, not a lot but there’s more to the story.
The other – we made $1.37 per share compared to $0.43 of the prior year, and we all know that in 2009 the last quarter was clearly a very difficult quarter. But this year far exceeded what we would have done anyhow.
Besides that, we have to tell you, today we are one of the largest recyclers and processors stainless steel in the United States. We’re a world-class operation with a large scale shredder and substantial amount of capital investment had put in place in this short period of one year. We started our shredder operation during 2008, continued to put it in, and as of July 1st 2010 it went to work. So therefore we did not get the full extent of having the shredder onboard and it also was that we just recently took over a venture operation which was an acquisition of assets, people, equipment and now onboard doing twice as much business as we did when we bought it and with a monthly on-time service facility.
Now we’re seeing the benefits of these initiatives. We also developed the management team. We have Brian Donaghy who is the President of the company; Don Rodgers is financial; Steve Jones, operations; and Ron Kletter, administration. Ron Kletter is my son, of course. Now we’re seeing all these initiatives have come up to be what you need to do in this commodity business.
One of the main things we have to understand about commodities is the world is short of commodities and this came about on some of my visits when I was in China in 2003 and my background in the business. I believe more than anything there will be a continuing shortage of commodities mostly in the ferrous scrap and the stainless scrap.
With that, we have reported our earnings already and we’re thinking about the other more important thing. What developed to make this company what it is? Customer relationships are healthy. ISA had been the key supplier to our on-time service customers that are only 50 miles from us. We’re in the process of finalizing our credit needs and in the process of showing and using a good team of people, excellent customer relationships, world-class facility, strong balance sheet, strong financials, and more to come in some organic growth within our operations.
If you have the picture, you can see some of the things that we’re adding. On the picture, we have a 144,000 square foot building that is going to be upgraded into what we call high alloy operation with also two other venues. This allows us to grow organically. And organically, our investment has been made already, so we’re capitalizing on our people and our assets.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time in trying to give you all these important things that I just told you about but because I think that the Q&A is more important to me than anything. I have had a (proud) time (inaudible) right now, and in fact, I’m going to tell you I’m 83 years old, had my birthday last Sunday, and I actively have been able to step aside from operations after many years.
I was public once before, brought up the waste business in 1969 as a public entity and I always believed in the public market. I like currency; I think currency is the way of the world, and I do use it as my money. As you know, I’ve felt very loyal to my currency and I am staying there. The only thing is I’m passing a lot of the duties on to my staff, the people and to the stockholders. Their desire is my desire.
So therefore, I’m not going to talk a long time because I think that more than anything your Q&As are going to be more important to me. But I will tell you this. We’re winding up our first quarter, and our first quarter’s already showing that our sales are between 65 and 75 million already and more to come.
We’re going to appear at the RedChip conference at NASDAQ. I will be there Tuesday and Wednesday this week, 23rd, 24th. Also, by having this picture online, many of you can see the investment. You don’t have to; it’s self-explanatory. And any time you want, you can call. We both put on a picture, (any) investors, anything like that and I’ll explain it.
I’m trying to be a little different. I’m not going to give you a lot of words, a lot of talk because I think that we have some people here, Don Rodgers who can give you the detail. And I think that that’s the most important thing, so I’m going to do something right here. ISA’s got this headquarters here at (Long City) investors. I want to – in fact, everything I can to inform it because I’m very proud of it.
So therefore, I’m going to turn it over to Don Rodgers, and then we’ll get back to anything that you may want to do in the Q&A.
Don Rodgers: Thank you. Congratulations on a great year. (Inaudible) with 2009 performance review, and I’d like to start out by reading a short Safe Harbor Statement.
This performance review contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ from predicted results. Specific risks include fluctuations in the price of recycled materials, varying demands for waste management systems, equipment and services, competitive pressures in the waste management systems and equipment, competitive pressures in the waste managing business, and loss of customers.
Other information on factors that could affect ISA’s results is detailed in ISA’s filings with the Securities Exchange Commission. ISA undertakes no obligation to publicly release the results of any revisions to forward-looking statements.
Having said that, our 10-K is now posted our website in detail. I’m going to give you some of the highlights.
Two thousand nine annual revenue hit a record of 181.1 million compared to a 100 million in 2008. Breaking that down by segments, Recycling was 92.2 – I’m sorry. Recycling was 174 million, an increase of 92.2 over 2008, and Services was 7.1, a decline of 11.1 million versus 2008.
Breaking down the Recycling by type, in 2009 the revenue for Stainless was a 112.6 million which was 66 percent of our total revenue; ferrous and shredder operation was 38.8 or 20 percent of our revenue; and non-ferrous was 24.5 or 14 percent. In 2008 there was no Stainless revenue. The ferrous was 26.7, so we had a – basically remained flat. We were up 0.3 in 2009 and the non-ferrous was 50.3 which was 65 percent.
Moving along, our G&A expense has been managed effectively. Management has reduced G&A expense by 360 points over the last eight quarters. Our G&A for 2009 was 20 million compared to 16.8. In 2008 we had 126 employees; in 2009, a 165, an increase of 39 employees which would be the increase in the stainless business. As a percentage of revenue, the G&A was 15.3 in the first quarter of 2008. And in the fourth quarter of 2009 it was 11.7, a decrease of 3.6 percent.
ISA’s profitability more than doubled in 2009 relative to 2008. The EBITDA in 2009, 12.7 million compared to 5 million in 2008, an increase of 7.7 million. The EBITDA margin in 2009 was 7 percent of revenue compared to 5 percent, an increase of 2 percent. And as Harry mentioned before, the earnings per share, a $1.37 in 2009 versus 43 cents in 2008, an increase of 94 cents per share.
Year-over-year ISA saw substantial improvement in 2009 versus the comparable period in 2008 in the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter of 2009 the revenue was 37.7 compared to 10.6 in 2008, an increase of 27.1. And the gross profit in the fourth quarter of ’09 was 9 million compared to 400,000 in the fourth quarter of 2008, an increase of 8.6 million. And as Harry mentioned earlier, in our release, the first quarter of 2010 revenue is projected to be 65 to 75 million.
With that, I think I’m going to turn it back to Harry. Wait a minute. I’m sorry; one more point here. Capital investment, ISA has invested heavily in its infrastructure over the last two years investing 27.5 million. And for an example, our net assets in 2007 were 9.5. In 2008 they were 10.9, and in 2009 we’re up to 27 million of net assets.
We have an outlook and an update for the 2010 guidance. For the full year we’re projecting revenues to be 200 to 250 million; adjusted EBITDA, 13 to 23 million; depreciation and amortization expense, 2 to 2.5 million; interest expense, 2 to 4 million; our tax rate, 40 to 41 percent; and the projected net income for 2010, 6 to 12 million; projected diluted earnings per share, 1.33 to 2.67 and that’s based on 4.5 million shares; capital expenditures as a percent of revenue, 1 to 2 percent.
With that I’ll turn it back over to Harry to wrap up the call and to start taking questions.
Harry Kletter: OK. Thanks, Don. We’re trying to hold this in the Q&A because I think the Q&A would be more important than anything because rambling off a lot of numbers – I’m very good at numbers but I think some time it pays to hear the question and then answer. So I’m going to turn it back for the Q&A.
Operator: At this time I would like to remind everyone in order to ask a question, please press star, then the number one on your telephone keypad. We’ll pause for just a moment and compile the Q&A roster.
Your first question is from the line of Eric Glover with Canaccord Adams.
Eric Glover: Hi. Congratulations on the results.
Harry Kletter: Thank you.
Eric Glover: Just wondering if you could provide an update on two markets in terms of the flows you’re seeing as well as pricing; number one, being ferrous and second, being stainless steel?
Harry Kletter: Well, yesterday I was watching on camera. We have about 17 live cameras and I was at home watching it on Sunday while we’re watching the health bill being done. And the lines were up and down the streets in all scales; we have multiple scales.
But you got to understand the catch-up on the scrap supply is because of the winter and a lot of the other things. I believe that the supply, and I think that we gathered a new venue of customers. I mean I watched it closely and I’ve been around a long time. We saw (the man) with 10 pounds and we saw (the man) with 20,000 pounds and truckloads coming in.
And in seeing it come in, we think that everybody’s taking advantage of these high prices right now and we think the prices will sustain themselves because we’ll flow into a slower period, maybe not us but others because our facilities have greatly increased our volumes coming in. Yes, I think the shortage will go on. In 1969 I said that it was going to be short. So now (inaudible) a difference.
We have shipped all the materials from the Adirondacks to Europe, from the Rockies we shipped to Asia, and middle of the United States there’s nothing on the streets and nothing in the field. So I think the supply will tighten up very extensively, and I think we will see that the mills and our consumers will have to maintain pricing to sustain the saving on materials.
Does that answer that, Eric?
Eric Glover: Yes, it does. Thank you. Second question is, you know, you’ve been talking about the (source) of scrap for a while. Now I think you’re being proved correct about that. Could you talk about how that’s affected the industry in terms of competition for what material is available?
Harry Kletter: I would have to say unless they take (the mentor’s) idea of what we’ve done, they will not survive. I think they will sustain a livable living but you have to be modern today. You have to have millions, you have to invest in the unique operations of the shredders, and what you do with these things.
So therefore I think that the competition will be there, but sooner or later there would be like the waste industry which is something I was very instrumental in bringing. Nowadays, back in the days when I was first in the waste business, there were thousands of waste haulers and companies. Right now we – the waste business, only has five.
I think it would take the same direction. Fortunately, I was the founder of the first public company in 1969 to go public at least and I saw back then that you’re going to have to do something about going modern, getting money and getting going public.
Does that answer that?
Eric Glover: Yes, it does. Thank you.
Operator: Your next question is from the line of (Matthew Larr) with (Flat).
(Matthew Larr): Good afternoon, gentlemen. Thank you for taking my question, and happy birthday, Mr. Kletter.
Harry Kletter: Thank you.
(Matthew Larr): You kind of answered what I was going to ask. You said shortages are going to remain and mills would have to sustain pricing. When you talk about sustained pricing, are we talking about flat or up in terms of April and May? Will they have to come up with more or can they buy at the price that they’ve been buying?
Harry Kletter: Well, I don’t think we’re going to sell anything cheaper because we don’t know where we’re going to get it later in the year and we have to be competitive. I think prices are going to maintain this level. I think it’s a better price to stay at this level too for both sides. We cannot get it in and the mills cannot get it from us unless we sustain the price that the people will want to sell it to (inaudible).
And you know, basically, we’re down to only one supply, cars, because the factories aren’t working, the people aren’t working and the people have to go out there and scavenge it and do the best they can. So I think that the price levels will stay in the levels of where we are, up and down a little bit but not too much either way.
(Matthew Larr): OK. Perfectly. Thank you very much.
Operator: Your next question is from the line of Juan Noble with Taglich Brothers.
Juan Noble: Hi. Good afternoon, Harry, Don. A couple of my questions have already been answered. Just two other ones, depending on the revision of your loan agreement, that’s also with BB&T, right?
Harry Kletter: Yes.
Juan Noble: OK. Second question, Harry, you went through the roster of your principal executives. Could you run that on me again? It’s not on the 10-K, I don’t think, and I didn’t pick up on all of the names. I caught Don and Ron and yourself, of course, but who were the others?
Harry Kletter: Well, the one we have is Harry Kletter, of course.
Juan Noble: OK.
Harry Kletter: Brian Donaghy, who is the President and Chief Operating Officer. One little thing. I don’t understand. When I was first in this business, they only had presidents. Now they got presidents and chief operating officers and they got chief executive officers. So the titles sometimes confuse even me.
So we got Harry Kletter, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; Brian Donaghy as President; and then we have Don Rodgers who is Chief Administrative who is overseeing financial and legal duties like that; Steve Jones, a very important person and moving into our Chief Operating Officer position and that is the one that brought all of the alloy business; and onboard is coming on another person.
So our staffing is well covered throughout the things – we have been able to build this and we have staffing in all directions.
Juan Noble: All right. That’s helpful, Harry. Thanks very much. Thanks, Don.
Don Rodgers: Thank you.
Operator: Your next question is from the line of John Henderson with JBH Capital.
John Henderson: Hi, guys. I just wanted to say congratulations, great report. And I was wondering, new to the company, I was wondering if you could provide a little bit of background on what the genesis was of the Venture Metals acquisition last year?
Harry Kletter: Well, about two and a half years ago, these two gentlemen were with the company and they came to us and asked us if we would be willing to help them out. They wanted to leave and start their own business about three years ago.
And we said, yes, because they were friendly with Brian and we gave them space in our facility. And at that time, we said we’ll operate it for you; you pay us for the operations. And from that, they (evolved) and where they started growing pretty extensively and they asked us if we would put capital into it and we said, well, you know, at that time we weren’t interested in putting capital because it was a lot of money. I mean, I, you know, it’s a lot of money because stainless is not cheap.
We said, well, it’s a lot of exposure. We’re not used to it. I know the alloy business from way, way back but, you know, I wasn’t ready to do it. So they moved off the property into a site and we’re backed by some offsite people. We knew the offsite people as well and we continued to keep a relationship with both the – Steve and (Jeff) who were the principals and the others were investors.
Well, by the end of the 2008 when everything collapsed, they were in trouble. The two investors were not agreeable to work with them and they met over at Christmas and said, “You know, we’d like to come back, and could we possibly – we have an idea.” And between Brian Donaghy and the two principals of Steve and (Jeff), they worked up this asset purchase and the commodities at market. We weighed every pound of it and moved it and moved it back into the (yard), and then took over the business and paid $11,500,000 for it.
Then after that, we – January 1st we took it over and immediately started shipping it. Within three months we sold the whole inventory. We proceeded to replace the inventory, moved it on, and then eventually, we said we’ve got to move it over; it did not have enough room. And we, January 1st 2010, completely moved the operation, consolidated the operation, staffed it with their staff, integrated, who were all people we knew anyhow. And now the operation is at this picture I told everybody to look at and it is presently operating at really high tonnages, a lot of money and (no shoulders) coming here more than anything.
But the most important thing that we weighed every pound. And today I can tell you it’s one of the greatest (feats) I’ve ever seen in acquisition, but I don’t call it acquisition because we bought like I used to buy, going out there, looked at it and bought it.
John Henderson: OK. Well, that helps a lot. Thank you. And in terms of understanding your business, is there a general seasonality? I looked back over the last number of years of Qs and annual reports, and it seems as though there’s a certain element of seasonality in the first half of the business where the first half is typically strong. Is that how your business works or am I reading too much into it and to the previous numbers?
Harry Kletter: You’re reading too much into it because (I’ll tell you what it is) 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days in a year business. And you sustain with your customers because they are the same kind of mills that operate that way. And in my history of being in the business, I’ve gone through this, but this is the best atmosphere that you do and we happen to be in mid-United States where our mills, our customers, our supply works those same days.
John Henderson: Understood. OK. Well, thank you very much and I look forward to seeing how the story develops. Good luck. Thank you.
Harry Kletter: Thank you.
Operator: Your next question is from the line of Rudy Scarito with RS Finance & Consulting.
Rudy Scarito: Good afternoon. Congratulations.
Harry Kletter: Thank you.
Rudy Scarito: I have a question about your capital expenditures. You mentioned that you spent more than sort of above average spending the last couple of years and you talked about buying Venture Metals and also constructing the shredder. What were some of the other items that you invested in over the last couple of years?
Harry Kletter: Well, firstly, we had been buying equipment all along and especially during the prime years of the 2003 to 2008, and we were able to depreciate them off and accumulate money on the – from the depreciation. So most of our mobile equipment was all purchased and over the years 1996 to 2007. And we were pretty well equipped except the shredder came upon a first big piece and that was the big outlay. We had been buying properties out of our normal depreciation and everything like that.
Well, if you take the equation of saying how could you spend $27 million and do all these things, and yet your net worth is only that, we had a lot of depreciation, a lot of benefits of the investment credits and everything else. Our banking really right now is driven by operating money and that’s what we – because our accounts receivable are high.
Assets, we spent a lot of money over the last 10 years, but basically, it flowed through cash flow and through depreciations and everything like that. Now we’re faced with a situation of growth, (a five-year) operating line. That is the main thing we’re working on and that’s our major debt right now.
Rudy Scarito: OK. Thank you.
Operator: Your next question is from the line of (David Russell), who is a private investor.
(David Russell): Yes, I’ve followed you for years. I’m familiar with (Bill Yarmouth) over, Almost Family and he’s mentioned you. I have a couple of questions. You mentioned your accounts receivable is what you referred to as high and that you finance that to the bank. Do you know these people? Are these seasoned customers? Is there any accounts receivable exposure here?
Harry Kletter: This mill is almost five miles long and it’s newly built (until) the last 10 years owned by a Spanish company. This is the stainless mill. And if that mill closes, Kentucky will have to sink because this is probably the huge – largest investment Kentucky has outside of their power plants.
This company is owned by a Spanish company that’s top of the line of Spain. They’re not in financial – we’ve checked them out. Not everybody understands it because, you know, it’s a strange setup. But I think they are solid as a rock and I think there are other two suppliers which one is being (Waupaca). The other one is (Gallotine) and the third one that I talked about is North American Stainless.
If I had in my past career customers like that, and I’ve had Home Depots and all that and I’ve had every kind of customer there is, this is the greatest customer but they respect us and we respect them. I look forward to a long-term – we will have (money). Surprise enough, though to be honest (Bob) grandfather was my banker.
David Russell: Well, that’s good company to keep. My other question concerns the capital base of the company. As you attempt to grow and finance your growth over time, there’s nothing in the 10-K about raising additional equity. What do you see with that?
Harry Kletter: I think that you know the answer. You know what we will do. When we like anyone else, we’ll look to exactly what the stock market’s about and what investment’s about. I think that answered that you know where we’ll go at the right price.
David Russell: Right. Thanks very much.
Operator: Again, to ask a question, please press star one. Your next question is from the line of Rudy Scarito with RS Finance & Consulting.
Harry Kletter: Yes, Rudy.
Rudy Scarito: Just another question about the shredder, can you tell us a little bit about what it is, what its capacity is, how it’s running?
Harry Kletter: Well, that’s why I asked the people to turn on the picture because everybody can get it now to isa-inc, and then, if they go “company” and that, it’s huge. It’s all computerized. We also have EDI system behind it that computerizes sorting of the metal. I come from the junk business and we never had computers. We never had anything but I’ll tell you this. This is state of the art. This is really a serious way.
Now I’ve had shredders since ’55 but I never went to a large automobile shredder because I always believed in the other ways, modern but, you know, I didn’t – the fascination of getting into automobiles wasn’t what I want. Now automobiles are important.
So this is a very sophisticated operation with sophisticated people running it, sophisticated maintenance and sophisticated management. And I want to tell you we’ve got it and we’ve seen shredders throughout the world. I have and I will tell you I’ve never seen a team or an operation as fine as this anywhere. But we have learned how, and I’ll tell you this. It is really, really unique. It’s worth a visit.
Rudy Scarito: Sounds good. I’ll be down.
Operator: Your next question is from the line of (Mike Schilinger) with a private investor.
(Mike Schilinger): Nice quarter. The margins you’ve had over the, you know, past you know five or six quarters are very significantly and obviously that variation has been driven I guess to some extent by the – or probably to a great extent by the overall economic climate. Guess I’m wondering, I’m assuming underlying commodity prices is a big reason for that swing, but I’m sort of wondering if you could, you know, provide some color on – more, you know, why the margins, the gross margin varies and what to expect going forward.
Harry Kletter: I’d blame it on the mills. Mills allowed the price to go down so low in that last (quarter) of 2008 and right into 2009. They should never have cut it off that far because they took it down to stop a flow. But that’s the problem we had in this recession we’re in. A lot of things have been done wrong.
Our margins are there because the margins you have are thought out. You have to think about the margin because it comes from being a (kid on). But the margins we have now are sort of everybody’s responsible to have a margin; otherwise, they won’t be in business. And I think our margins – now 2009, you understand, we only had the shredder half a year and the stainless operations started out as 60 cents a pound and now it’s over a dollar. We saw five, $600 scrap prices prior to that but that was, you know, always Chinese chasing it.
We have a price today of well over $400 for our ferrous. Four hundred dollars is a good price to operate on and it’s a good price for the mills to operate on. And they’re sustaining that $400 (so in) their steel. So I think that the pricing level and the margins for a good operation, well managed and (inaudible), it will squeeze a little bit but we’ve already seen it.
I think that the margin is a matter of good service, reliable, being in the market all the time, and that’s why we have people lined up everyday. Thank you.
(Mike Schilinger): OK. So thanks for that response. Is – you know what, the shredder I assume that you can probably turn inventory faster than you could before. Does that have an effect generally of expanding margin particularly, you know, anytime when the spot prices are dropping?
Harry Kletter: Well, we don’t keep inventory anymore now. It’s in and out. It’s sold already, so there is no – you buy according to market. That’s the good thing about a shredder, (car) in, car out. A (car) only takes (inaudible) half to shred. And as fast as the 700 (cars) come in a day, they go through the shredder with the miscellaneous and we’re also using a shredder for or stainless operation.
But more (and all), the – it doesn’t pay to keep inventory anymore. In this business we’ve learned one thing. We’re not speculating anymore. We buy, sell, buy, sell, and we know our orders pretty well ahead of time. And the mills that we’re working with, we know our next month. We already know our next month’s pricing. I think a couple of people like (Matt Learner) know because I talk to him a lot about pricing. Our mills give us indicators. And so, we’re not really gambling. The casino’s where you gamble.
(Mike Schilinger): OK. Thank you very much.
Operator: Your next question is from the line of (Steven Baer) with (Baer Capital Management).
(Steven Baer): Yes. Congratulations on a great year and a nice fourth quarter. I just had a question about fluctuations in revenues. For instance, looking at the third and fourth quarters of 2009, revenues went from nearly 80 million down to 37.7 million. So I had assumed that was seasonality or an earlier question related to seasonality to which you implied that’s not such a big factor. So I’m just interested in further light on the difference in the revenues between the third and fourth quarter.
Harry Kletter: Well, the third quarter, of course, was Christmas and holidays. And because of that, usually it is. The four quarters are very different and I talk to the (Matt) a lot, (Learner) and I talk about it. Quarters are dependent on operations that don’t operate on the status of, you know, 24 hours, seven days a week and then 365 days, we do.
So what we’re doing, it’s only a shipping time. We’re really a year-to-date market because, you know, it doesn’t fluctuate but it’s your supply stream and all that. So when you see a quarter and you compare, you really have to look at the year-to-date. That’s the best one to look at. That’s the way I gauge the business.
Unfortunately, when we report quarters in the investment community, we have to do it and sometimes we have to explain it more, and I hope that explains it to you.
(Steven Baer): OK. So better to look at the big picture than just the individual quarter in other words.
Harry Kletter: I would always look whatever company is year-to-date.
(Steven Baer): Right. OK. Thank you very much.
Operator: At this time we have no further questions.
Harry Kletter: Well, thank you. I hope I explained it some time in my way that I sometimes wander off a little bit. But it’s been great, and of course, you know we are very happy today with our results. And anyone who wants to visit or go online, it’s available to you.
Anyone wants to meet me at RedChip, I’ll be up there and I’ll be willing to talk. And anything else, the phone is always open to any visitors. And thank you very much.
Operator: This concludes today’s conference call. You may now disconnect.