Logo of jester cap with thought bubble.

Image source: The Motley Fool.

Sunoco LP (NYSE:SUN)
Q2 2019 Earnings Call
Aug 8, 2019, 10:30 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Greetings, and welcome to Sunoco LP Second Quarter 2019 Earnings Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to your host, Scott Grischow, Vice President of Investor Relations and Treasury.

Scott Grischow -- President of Investor Relations and Treasury

Thank you, and good morning, everyone. On the call with me this morning are Joe Kim, Sunoco LP's President and Chief Executive Officer; Tom Miller, Chief Financial Officer; Karl Fails, Chief Operations Officer and other members of the management team.

A reminder that today's call will contain forward-looking statements subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially. Please refer to our earnings release, as well as our filings with the SEC for a list of these factors.

During today's call, we will also discuss certain non-GAAP financial measures, including adjusted EBITDA and distributable cash flow as adjusted. Please refer to the Sunoco LP website for a reconciliation of each financial measure.

Before I turn the call over to Tom, I will provide an update on J.C. Nolan diesel pipeline joint venture with Energy Transfer that we announced on our first quarter earnings call. We signed final agreements on July 1, successfully commissioned the pipeline in August and completed our first deliveries to customers this week. As a reminder, Energy Transfer operates the pipeline for the joint venture, which transports diesel fuel from Hebert, Texas to a terminal in the Midland, Texas area. The joint venture splits the profits from midstream operations. Both parties benefit through a sharing agreement on the marketing side, capitalizing on the West Texas to Gulf Coast differentials.

Sunoco LP's cash investment is approximately $50 million, $5 million of that is growth capital, with the balance comprised of line fill and working capital.

I will now turn the call over to Tom, who will cover this quarter's financial and operating results. Tom?

Thomas R. Miller -- Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Scott, and good morning, everyone. Again, this quarter we delivered quality results. For the quarter, the partnership recorded net income of $55 million. Second quarter 2019 adjusted EBITDA was $152 million compared to second quarter 2018 of $140 million. Our second quarter leverage of 4.2 times was lower than last year second quarter leverage of 4.5 times. Second quarter DCF as adjusted was a $101 million, yielding a second quarter coverage ratio of 1.17 and the trailing 12-month coverage ratio of 1.35. As noted in the earnings release, these results include a one-time expense of $8 million related to a reserve for an open contractual dispute from prior periods. If you remove this one-timer, adjusted EBITDA would have been a $160 million; DCF, as adjusted, $108 million; second quarter coverage would have been 1.26, trailing 12-month coverage of 1.37 and leverage of 4.16 times. Another solid quarter no matter how you look at it. On July 25, we declared an $0.8255 per unit distribution, the same as last quarter.

Looking at our operational performance, fuel volume in the second quarter totaled a record high of over 2 billion gallons, that's up 4% from a year ago. It was driven by contribution from 2018 acquisitions, organic growth and gross profit optimization efforts. Fuel margin was $0.091 per gallon, which was impacted by the aforementioned one-time expense, as well as the mid-June Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery fire. Spot gasoline prices ran up in the response, pressuring margins in the back half of June and into early July.

PES is one of our largest suppliers on the East Coast. However, given our size, we have multiple other options with good long-standing suppliers. All told, without the one-time contractual dispute and the margin impact from PES, we would have been toward the lower end of our $0.095 to $0.105 per gallon annual guidance. On a run rate basis, our second quarter and first half numbers suggest full-year operating expense below our $540 million annual guidance. While we expect quarter-to-quarter fluctuations, total 2019 operating expense will be below our annual guidance, primarily due to the sale of Fulton ethanol plant. That said, the Fulton ethanol sale will also result in lower gross profit by essentially the same amount.

Moving to capital, we invested $31 million in the second quarter, $25 million on growth capital and $6 million on maintenance capital. We now expect 2019 maintenance capital to be around $40 million, up from last year's $31 million. Last year, we spent $71 million in growth capital. Our current growth capital projection is now up to $100 million, which includes $5 million toward the J.C. Nolan JV. As we've discussed in the past, we have strengthened our sales team and developed a strong pipeline of organic fuel distribution projects. We would be comfortable exceeding a $100 million in growth capital by investing in additional organic projects that deliver high returns with short paybacks.

Looking at the second quarter, our underlying business performed well. We continue to maintain a financially disciplined strategy focusing on things we control. Expenses, gross profit optimization and investing wisely, we believe the strategy will allow us to remain within our 4.5 times to 4.75 times leverage target and our 1.2 coverage ratio target. We believe the 2019 adjusted EBITDA guidance remains very reasonable.

I will now turn the call over to Joe for some closing thoughts. Joe?

Joseph Kim -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Tom. Good morning, everyone. Quarter-after-quarter we continue to deliver quality results. Our second quarter performance is a good example of the resilience of our business, despite [Phonetic] an upward commodity price environment in both April and June. We're also negatively impact by the PES refinery issues. Furthermore, we had a one-time $8 million expense that Tom mentioned earlier. Even with these headwinds, we delivered another solid quarter.

Our underlying business remains strong and we expected to continue into the foreseeable future. We're building a business model to withstand various headwinds, yet at the same time our business model can also take advantage of a slight tailwind, like we saw in the fourth quarter of last year. Looking forward, the third quarter is off to a good start. And more importantly, we expect to deliver on our annual guidance.

Moving on to growth, the J.C. Nolan pipeline was placed into service this month. Although the dollar amount is not exceedingly large, this is a prime example of our ability to create accretive growth outside of fuel distribution. Since last year, we have shifted personnel and dollar resources to build our midstream business. And is paid off with the acquisition of two terminals in December of last year and the completion of the J.C. Nolan project. We have temporarily slowed our field distribution acquisitions, however, our pipeline remains strong. When the right opportunity comes at the right price, we'll act on it. To balance the short-term decrease in acquisitions, we have increased our organic growth as Tom detailed earlier.

Let me close by stating, we continue to establish the track record of delivering on our targets. We remain confident that we will continue to deliver in 2019 and beyond.

Operator, that concludes our prepared remarks. You may open the line for questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. [Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from the line of Shneur Gershuni with UBS. Please proceed with your question.

Shneur Gershuni -- UBS -- Analyst

Hi, good morning, guys. Maybe we can start off with your outlook for margins for the back half of this year as we sort of think about your full your guidance, RBOB is moving in the right direction this quarter. Any color around your expectations for margins for 3Q and 4Q?

Karl Fails -- Chief Operations Officer

Hi, Shneur, this is Karl. Yeah. As you mentioned, the fall in RBOB prices definitely provides a tailwind like we saw in Q4 of last year. That's very constructive for us. I think in general as we've talked over the last number of quarters, we look at -- we don't look at margins and volume separately. We look at them together with -- as gross profit. I think our gross profit optimization efforts have yielded results in Q2. It was a little more toward a volume side than the CPG margin side. But we're very comfortable with our guidance, as Tom and Joe mentioned on our prepared remarks, and Q3 is shaping up nicely.

Shneur Gershuni -- UBS -- Analyst

Okay. [Speech Overlap]

Joseph Kim -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Hi, Shneur, this is Joe. Let me add a little bit to that. I think the way -- if you look at 2018 and then kind of look at what's that for 2019, there are some similarities. If you look at 2018 on the first half of the year, I think our average margin was somewhere just north of $0.098. And if you look at this year even with the $8 million in refinery issue, we're averaging somewhere around $0.095 for the first half of the year. I think the important thing that Karl mentioned is that, our volume is going to be up. We're still going to do gross profit optimization and with the RBOB drop, I think we're in very good shape for the back half of this year.

Shneur Gershuni -- UBS -- Analyst

That makes great sense, guys. And I was wondering, given the success that you've had with optimizations, I was wondering if you can sort of give a sense to us what inning you're in. Are we in the fifth inning? Are we in the ninth inning just considering how long it's taken place? And then, I was also wondering as part that, if you can talk about the PES closure, whether that actually presents an opportunity to enhance your optimization opportunities as well.

Karl Fails -- Chief Operations Officer

I'll take -- this is Karl. I'll take the PES piece first and then I think Joe might be able to comment on the other. As far as PES goes, as we mentioned earlier, I mean, they were one of our larger suppliers on the East Coast. I think we saw the market a very quickly find alternate supply coming into the Philadelphia area. So it's very well supplied. I think what we saw is that there was some impact. We estimate probably in the $5 million to $10 million range, split between Q2 and Q3 as the logistics costs of getting that supply where it needs to get needed to rebalance. And that's still working through. I mean, from our standpoint, it was enough to notice, but not enough to be material. So, we're one of the largest shorts in that part of the country. And we were before, we're still going to be a large -- have a large demand for fuel. And so, yeah, as you stated I think it creates opportunities for us going forward.

Joseph Kim -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Shneur, as far as the question about price optimization, I think at the last conference call I mentioned that as far as our base business, we're pretty deep into it. And I think the real opportunity for us is really when it comes to organic growth and optimizing the gross profit on those opportunities that we are ramping up and also on future acquisitions. Our ability to price optimize, we believe with our scale and our brand, we bring that to the table. As far as our base business, it's a continuous process. So, I think that we have other opportunities in terms of -- yeah, we have some but using a baseball analogy, we're probably deeper into the latter innings when it comes to our internal base.

Shneur Gershuni -- UBS -- Analyst

And just to paraphrase the first comment. So essentially 2Q earnings could have actually been higher headed up in for PES because of that higher expense. Is that what you are saying as part of the first part to your answer?

Karl Fails -- Chief Operations Officer

Yes. I think as we've stated, I mean, we look at our business as a whole. So, we think overall that's not a forecast that we don't think that we're going to hit our overall guidance for the year on both EBITDA and coverage. It's just a statement that that was a headwind for us in Q2 and probably a little bit in Q3. And right now there are other tailwinds in Q3 that should overcome that.

Shneur Gershuni -- UBS -- Analyst

Okay. [Speech Overlap]

Joseph Kim -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Maybe to add a little [Speech Overlap]. Go ahead, Shneur.

Shneur Gershuni -- UBS -- Analyst

No, no, go please finish.

Joseph Kim -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. I think a little bit more depth to the PES issue. If you want to try to do an analysis internally as kind of keep all variables equal, what's the PES impact for us in the second quarter and what did impact us in the third quarter? We think it's somewhere between $5 million to $10 million that kind of lapped over both the second and third quarter in combination. So if you want to just call it right down in the middle somewhere between $2.5 million to $5 million each quarter. And so, it did have an impact on the second quarter. As far as the third quarter, yeah, it had a little bit of leftover impact. But I think all of that has pretty much been worked out through the system. And our optimism on the back half of this year factors that in. And as you mentioned earlier, the drop in RBOB prices is definitely trumped [Phonetic] over that variable.

Shneur Gershuni -- UBS -- Analyst

Okay. And one final question. Do you see an opportunity to take some capacity on Mariner East 2X when it starts up as a potential solution to filling plants of former PES market?

Karl Fails -- Chief Operations Officer

Yeah. I think as we look at Philadelphia, I mean, the East Coast has always been supplied by pipe, primarily from the Gulf Coast. It's been supplied by refineries in the area and it's supplied with imports from Europe or other parts of the world. That's going to continue to be the case. I'd say, we're always interested in looking at pipeline opportunities into certain markets. So, depending on how that shapes out that's definitely something we'll look at.

Shneur Gershuni -- UBS -- Analyst

Perfect. Thank you very much, guys. Really appreciate the color.

Joseph Kim -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our next question comes from the line of Ethan Bellamy with Baird. Please proceed with your question.

Ethan Bellamy -- Robert W. Baird & Co -- Analyst

Hey, guys. Good morning. With respect to the joint venture line in West Texas, could you give us some context on how big that market is, if you think that pipe will impact the spread from the Gulf Coast? And then potentially if we see a big downturn in oil and gas development out there, does that put volumes at risk on the line?

Karl Fails -- Chief Operations Officer

Yeah. This is Karl. I'll be happy to take that. I think as we look at the diesel demand in that area of Texas, there's definitely been diesel that's come in by truck and by rail and pipeline economics should beat that every day of the week. And so, we're comfortable that the market can absorb the capacity of the 30,000 barrels a day of the J.C. Nolan line. Obviously, as more supply comes in the market that can impact differentials, but we're -- we bake that into the -- as we looked at the JV with Energy Transfer, those economics. So we're comfortable with how that looks.

As far as to the downturn in the Permian, as we look at that market and how it impacts our business, we think there is a lot of upside. It's never going to be smooth quarter-to-quarter as things happen, as take away capacity comes on, as crude prices move around but we think there is a lot of runway in that market. And as far as downside from our EBITDA perspective, we operated, if you recall, the West Texas stores that we now have a large commission agent -- operator's commission agent with a large customer. We operated those as Company-operated stores during the downturn in 2015-2016. So we know what that looks like from an EBITDA perspective. And so, we see a potential slowdown in the Permian more as limiting our upside, not as a significant downside to us as Company.

Ethan Bellamy -- Robert W. Baird & Co -- Analyst

Got it. That's very helpful. Should we view this as a template for future transactions or operability with -- in concert with Energy Transfer? Or is this more of one-off?

Joseph Kim -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Hey, Ethan, this is Joe. I'll kind of play off with Shneur's comments earlier about kind of using a baseball analogy. And I'd say that as far as looking at midstream, traditional midstream organic growth projects, we're definitely in the first or second inning. And the J.C. Nolan was kind of our first yield. So we're looking at vast opportunities that are out there either with Energy Transfer or without Energy Transfer. And the way that we're looking at it is, we have an $8 billion -- 8 billion gallon plus fuel distribution business. So, working further upstream is going to create some synergy opportunities for us. We feel confident that we're going to find other opportunities. The question for us is how many. So I'll say early stages, but we think there are definitely some opportunities for us to move further upstream.

Ethan Bellamy -- Robert W. Baird & Co -- Analyst

Okay. And last question. Since the last quarter, we've seen yet another IDR elimination from one of your partnership peers. Just got to ask the question, when you see that does it make that more of a pressing concern?

Joseph Kim -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Right. Ethan, I think what I've said in the past is that, there's no efforts being spent by Energy Transfer or Sunoco on IDR elimination. We have a plan that we're executing and we think that we can create value. And as for -- currently, we don't see IDRs as a prohibitor for us growing, given our excess coverage and our ability to stay within our targeted leverage, I think right now we're hovering somewhere around 4.2. So, right now we don't see this as a prohibitor.

Ethan Bellamy -- Robert W. Baird & Co -- Analyst

All right. Thanks a lot, Joe. Keep up the good work. We appreciate it.

Joseph Kim -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Ethan.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Jeremy Tonet with J.P. Morgan. Please proceed with your question.

Charles Barber -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Hey, good morning. This is Charlie on for Jeremy. First one was I just wanted to see if you had any color on the potential reinstatement of the biodiesel blenders tax credit. I've just been hearing some rumblings in the news on that. I'm curious if you've got any color there and, really, how much of an impact that would be for SUN.

Karl Fails -- Chief Operations Officer

Yeah. This is Karl. I would say our guess on what Congress is going to do there is probably as good as yours. We obviously follow that and look at that. I would not say, it's a material either way that goes for us.

Charles Barber -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Okay. And then, just wanted to follow-up on West Texas here. I just wanted to make sure I understand. On the demand side, I mean, I guess, your expectations there for the balance of this year and then maybe thinking more in 2020 as the differentials come in and there might be maybe less pull from -- on the trucking side, I guess, it doesn't sound like it's maybe as much of a negative to you, at least in the near term.

Karl Fails -- Chief Operations Officer

Yeah. That's right. I think backing out truck and rail diesel into West Texas is going to be beneficial to us and beneficial to the joint venture project we've entered into with Energy Transfer. And then, as you look at the production growth in the area for every frac or rig that is in operation, you need diesel to run that. So, we're very comfortable and excited about the forward projections as it relates to diesel and our business in West Texas.

Joseph Kim -- President and Chief Executive Officer

I'll add a little bit of commentary to Karl's comments. I think in my prepared remarks I said our investments not exceedingly large. It's about $50 million. So I think the way to look at it from a Sunoco perspective is, we were paying pipeline tariffs to begin with. Now, we're part of a joint venture. So now, at least we are paying ourselves, so picking up half of that. The other half, there is some marketing exposure but we had that market exposure to begin with because we have the 207 stores and a commission agent and we have other diesel distribution in that market. So, from our standpoint, we flipped over some of our revenues into more a ratable pipeline revenue for ourselves.

Charles Barber -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Okay, great. Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Sharon Lui with Wells Fargo. Please proceed with your question.

Sharon Lui -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Analyst

Hi, good morning. I just wanted to touch on, I guess, your guidance for growth CapEx. It looks like the opportunities set is a little bit more robust. Maybe if you talk about some of the opportunities that you guys are exploring?

Karl Fails -- Chief Operations Officer

Sure. Hi, Sharon, this is Karl. I'd say, we mentioned that part of that increase in the growth CapEx related to about $5 million toward our contribution to J.C. Nolan. The other portions of our contribution in J.C. Nolan really come as investment in working capital.

As far as the other growth in our growth capital, it's in the same areas that we've talked about before. I think on our fuel distribution side, our sales organization is really ramping up. And so, a lot of those projects are in signing up new customers or renewing other customers and expanding their business. And then, as Joe mentioned before, we are spending time and money to increase our opportunity set in the midstream world. And so, we have -- we don't have the next project to announce, but we're definitely working on that and that's a component of our growth capital going forward.

Sharon Lui -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Analyst

Great. And just a question on that one-time charge. Is it -- is the impact potentially just isolated to this particular quarter? Maybe you can give some color on that contract dispute?

Thomas R. Miller -- Chief Financial Officer

Well, pardon me, this is Tom. We really can't provide any additional color. It is an open contractual suit, as you said. So, we spent a lot of time looking at this and we feel we are appropriately reserved on this.

Sharon Lui -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached the end of the question-and-answer session. And I would like to turn the call back to Scott for closing remarks.

Scott Grischow -- President of Investor Relations and Treasury

Well, thanks again for joining us on the call this morning. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions. Have a great day. And this concludes today's call.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 26 minutes

Call participants:

Scott Grischow -- President of Investor Relations and Treasury

Thomas R. Miller -- Chief Financial Officer

Joseph Kim -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Karl Fails -- Chief Operations Officer

Shneur Gershuni -- UBS -- Analyst

Ethan Bellamy -- Robert W. Baird & Co -- Analyst

Charles Barber -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Sharon Lui -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Analyst

More SUN analysis

All earnings call transcripts

AlphaStreet Logo