Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

SunCoke Energy, inc (SXC) Q3 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

By Motley Fool Transcribers – Nov 1, 2021 at 12:30PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

SXC earnings call for the period ending September 30, 2021.

Logo of jester cap with thought bubble.

Image source: The Motley Fool.

SunCoke Energy, inc (SXC 3.58%)
Q3 2021 Earnings Call
Nov 1, 2021, 10:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good morning. My name is David and I'll be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the SunCoke Energy's Third Quarter 2021 Earnings Call. [Operator Instructions] After the speaker remarks, there will a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions]

I'll now turn the call over to Shantanu Agrawal, Head of Investor Relations. You may begin your conference.

10 stocks we like better than SunCoke Energy
When our award-winning analyst team has a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.* 

They just revealed what they believe are the ten best stocks for investors to buy right now... and SunCoke Energy wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

See the 10 stocks

*Stock Advisor returns as of October 20, 2021

Shantanu Agrawal -- Head of Investor Relations

Thanks, David. Good morning and thank you for joining us this morning to discuss SunCoke Energy's third quarter 2021 results.

With me today is Mike Rippey, President and Chief Executive Officer. Following management's prepared remarks, we'll open the call for Q&A. This conference call is being webcast live on the Investor Relations section of our website and a replay will be available later today. If we don't get to your questions on the call today, please feel free to reach out to our Investor Relations team.

Before I turn things over to Mike, let me remind you that the various remarks we make on today's call regarding future expectations constitute forward-looking statements. The cautionary language regarding forward-looking statements in our SEC filings apply to the remarks we make today. These documents are available on our website as our reconciliations to non-GAAP financial measures discussed on today's call.

With that, I will now turn things over to Mike.

Michael G. Rippey -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Shantanu. Good morning and thank you all for joining us today. I want to discuss a few highlights of our third quarter results before turning it back to Shantanu, who will review them in detail. First, I would like to thank all of our SunCoke teammates for their continued commitment to our shared goals of working safely and efficiently to deliver high quality products and services to our customers.

Turning to our financial performance in the quarter, we are pleased with how our teams delivered across both the coke and logistics segments. cokemaking operations continued to operate at full capacity, while our Logistics segment delivered another solid quarter, despite the disruption caused by Hurricane Ida.

For the third quarter of 2021, we delivered adjusted EBITDA of $73.9 million, representing record third quarter performance. As I mentioned, CMT operations were disrupted due to Hurricane Ida, but the terminal recovered quickly with only minor damage and minimum business disruption. The resilient nature of our operations and commitment to our employees was clearly visible through the speed at which CMT returned to normal operations.

Operationally, our export and foundry coke initiatives continued to perform well as evident from our financial results. In addition, positive market dynamics are proving that our entry into these markets was timely. Our products are well received by customers and we have established ourselves as a reliable supplier of quality products in both markets.

Our gross leverage stands at approximately 2.5 times on a trailing 12-month adjusted EBITDA basis. We are committed to continue paying down our revolver for the remainder of the year. Based on our year-to-date performance and the expectation of continued strength in steel and coal markets for the remainder of the year, we are well positioned to modestly exceed our full-year 2021 adjusted EBITDA guidance of $255 million to $265 million.

With that, I'll turn it over to Shantanu to review our third quarter earnings in details. Shantanu?

Shantanu Agrawal -- Head of Investor Relations

Thanks, Mike. Turning to Slide four, our third quarter net income attributable to SXC was $0.27 per share, up $0.30 versus the prior year period. The increase is primarily driven by the absence of supply relief provided to certain customers as part of the turned down agreements during the prior year period.

Adjusted EBITDA came in at $73.9 million for the quarter, up $26.1 million from the prior year quarter. Our coke operations continue to deliver strong performance and operate efficiently. Overall, coke operations were up $17.7 million over prior year period. Logistics segment was up $7.3 million quarter-over-quarter, driven by higher throughput volumes, higher price and diversified product base at CMT.

Turning to the Domestic Coke business summary on Slide five. Third quarter adjusted EBITDA per ton was $62 on 1,056,000 sales tons. The volumes were higher across the fleet as the prior-year period was impacted by pandemic-related turn downs. Our successful entry into export and foundry market is proving to be timely and when combined with full capacity utilization, we can see the positive impact on our profitability.

We expect full-year Domestic Coke adjusted EBITDA to come in modestly higher than the guidance range of $234 million to $238 million. There are planned outages at some of our Domestic Coke facilities, which will impact the volume and profitability of fourth quarter, but is included in the full-year guidance.

Moving to Slide six to discuss our Logistics business. The Logistics business generated $11.6 million of adjusted EBITDA during the third quarter of 2021, as compared to $4.3 million in the prior year period. The increase is driven by higher coal volumes, addition of iron ore as a product and higher price on coal handling all at CMT. The coal handling contract includes a quarterly price adjustment or a price kicker, which is based on the API2 price index, which benefited Q3 results. We expect the benefit to continue in Q4, as well.

As mentioned by Mike earlier, the impact of Hurricane Ida on CMT was limited and the facility came back to normal operating levels fairly quickly. The segment as a whole handled 4.9 million tons of throughput volumes during the quarter, as compared to 3.3 million tons during the prior year period. Our full-year guidance for Logistics volumes and adjusted EBITDA remains the same as provided in second quarter.

Turning to Slide seven to discuss our liquidity position in Q3. As you can see from the chart, we ended the third quarter with a cash balance of $54.6 million. In the third quarter, cash flow from the operating activities generated close to $79 million. We spent $18.4 million on capex during the quarter and paid dividends of $5 million at the rate of $0.06 per share. We lowered our debt by $51.7 million with the majority of the reduction coming in the form of paydown of our revolving credit facility.

Our total debt balance stood at approximately $615 million at the end of third quarter and we expect to continue to pay down the revolver over the balance of the year. In total, we ended the quarter with a strong liquidity position of $291 million.

With that, I'll turn it back to Mike.

Michael G. Rippey -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Shantanu. Wrapping up on Slide eight. As always, safety and operational performance is top of mind for our organization. We look to continue to perform safely, while successfully executing against our operating and capital plan for the remainder of the year. We are very pleased with the progress we have made so far in the new markets we entered this year and we will continue to focus on further developing our customer base and participation in future years.

Our aim, when we started 2021, was to run at full capacity, while introducing new products. As we end the third quarter, we are fully booked for the balance of the year and we are actively working on filling the order book for next year.

On the Logistics side, we have made good progress on revitalizing CMT with the backdrop of positive market dynamics. We will continue to build on this foundation for CMT's long-term success.

On the capital allocation front, we will continue to work toward reducing our revolver for the balance of the year. In the longer term, we will continually evaluate the capital needs of our business, profitable growth opportunities and the need to reward our shareholders, and we'll make capital allocation decisions accordingly.

Finally, based on reliable performance of our operating segments and success of export and foundry products, we are well positioned to modestly exceed our adjusted EBITDA guidance of $255 million to $265 million for 2021.

With that, let's go ahead and open it up for Q&A.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Okay, and we'll take our first question from Nathan Martin with The Benchmark Company.

Nathan Martin -- The Benchmark Company -- Analyst

Guys, thanks for taking my questions and congrats on the quarter.

Michael G. Rippey -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Nathan.

Shantanu Agrawal -- Head of Investor Relations

Thanks, Nathan.

Nathan Martin -- The Benchmark Company -- Analyst

If I look at your Domestic Coke segment, updated EBITDA guidance there again modestly exceed your prior range. This is combined with your expectation of throughput volumes and profitability to be a little bit lower due to some outage work. I guess first question is lower compared to what, is that quarter-over-quarter or year-over-year? And then also maybe just talk about from the outage work being done? And then finally, it looks like you still expect to hit that 4.15 million ton of production guidance? Just want to make sure that's right. Thanks.

Michael G. Rippey -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes, that's all right. And it's quarter-over-quarter. The fourth quarter, we have scheduled a lot of the routine, maintenance and capital work that we like to complete during the year. This year is working out where a lot of that work is going to occur during the fourth quarter. Some of that's by design and some of it frankly is due to the pandemic and the challenge associated with gathering all the necessary equipment that needs to be installed and refurbished and pulling together all the labor inputs to complete the capital work. So it's been difficult to do capital work throughout the year again, because of the difficulty of obtaining materials and unnecessary labor inputs. So a lot of that work is being pushed into the fourth quarter here.

Nathan Martin -- The Benchmark Company -- Analyst

Got it. And that's, I guess, Mike what gives you the feeling that you're still probably going to be closer to that $90 million of capex for the full-year?

Michael G. Rippey -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes.

Nathan Martin -- The Benchmark Company -- Analyst

Okay. And then, kind of, moving to our Logistics, third quarter a little bit weaker, obviously I'm sure that was largely driven by Hurricane Ida. You guys again left your full-year guidance of around 21.5 million tons unchanged. That would imply pretty big fourth quarter, it looks like especially at CMT. Maybe could you discuss what gives you the confidence and you can still hit that full-year number?

Michael G. Rippey -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, you touched on it, the disruption was related to Ida. Our facility was down for the better part of three weeks and that related not to damage of the facility, but rather to that we are unable to run the facility, because there was no electricity in the region. So we had to wait for electricity to be restored in the region. So we lost some volumes there. And the good news is the teams were at the ready, when power was restored, they were and we repaired some of the minor damage and we're back operating within 48 hours of power being restored. So we look forward to a good fourth quarter down at CMT.

Nathan Martin -- The Benchmark Company -- Analyst

Okay. Yes, and just looking again, if you kind of hit that full-year CMT guidance of around 11 million tons would apply, you know, well over 3 million tons in the fourth quarter. So are you confident you can, kind of, get to that number more or less?

Michael G. Rippey -- President and Chief Executive Officer

You know, we're confident with the guidance we've given.

Shantanu Agrawal -- Head of Investor Relations

Yes, I mean, I think you just take -- I mean, it should be around that 3 million ton number, you know, Q4 obviously, kind of, with the API2 pricing being so strong, we are seeing good volumes. So we feel confident with our guidance.

Nathan Martin -- The Benchmark Company -- Analyst

Perfect. Very helpful, guys. And then, Shantanu, you just brought up one thing, I want to touch on to that price kicker that you mentioned in the third quarter, that you still expect to probably carry through the fourth quarter. Could you guys, let us know maybe what API2 prices required to get that kicker? And is this something that could also continue into 2022 and beyond assuming it stays above that required level?

Michael G. Rippey -- President and Chief Executive Officer

It certainly could continue into '22. To answer your first question, the answer is we don't share any of the details with regard to our contract. So I'm unable to answer that question or perhaps better said unwilling to answer that question.

Nathan Martin -- The Benchmark Company -- Analyst

Got it, Mike. No worries. And then maybe the last one too, I'll just try and take again, kind of, going back real quick to the Domestic Coke segment, fully sold out this year. Last quarter, you mentioned you have still about 800,000 tons to sell for '22? Any comments or updates there?

Michael G. Rippey -- President and Chief Executive Officer

No, as we said, we're working hard at selling our volumes for '22 as we speak today. '21 is sold out now.

Nathan Martin -- The Benchmark Company -- Analyst

All right. Got it. Appreciate the comments and best of luck in the fourth quarter, guys.

Michael G. Rippey -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks.

Shantanu Agrawal -- Head of Investor Relations

Thanks, Nathan.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Okay, and we'll take our next question from Josh Taykowski with Credit Suisse Management.

Josh Taykowski -- Credit Suisse Management -- Analyst

Hey guys, congrats on the quarter. Just one quick one from me, maybe not quick, but I guess commentary from one of your big customers in their earnings call last week point into the clear intention to continue to reduce their met coal needs. I guess on the back of that and the recent purchase of some scrap vertical integration play, how do you react to that? And the pre-vocal intention to continue reducing that net coal need?

Michael G. Rippey -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes, we've addressed this before in the comments, not a new one. We actually applaud it. And the reason we do that is to the extent by adding alternative fuel sources to a blast furnace, it doesn't much matter whether it's DRI, HPI, PCI pulverized coal or natural gas fuel. All of those additions correctly reduce the need for coke in the furnace. But what it also does is require the coke that is in the furnace, we have ever higher quality. Coke has two primary values in a furnace. One is as a source of fuel, the other is to support the burden in the furnace, so as to allow the chemical reactions to occur.

When you think about these other substitute materials, they have no value in terms of burden support in the furnace, so that requires the coke that's in the furnace to be of a higher quality. And as we've discussed for many years now, the natural output of our process is to produce a coke of very high CSR. So it's very strong coke, which lends itself to this ability to substitute. So as coke more generally is replaced in a furnace, the need for higher quality coke is actually increases and we're the producer of that high quality coke. So it's perfectly fine with us that our customers are looking to reduce their CO2 footprint by injecting other forms of metal and energy to the furnace. So we're perfectly OK.

Josh Taykowski -- Credit Suisse Management -- Analyst

Got it. Super helpful. Thanks, guys, and congrats again.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] And next we'll go to Gemma Sagar [Phonetic] with FactSet.

Lucas Pipes -- B. Riley Securities -- Analyst

This might be Lucas Pipes that dialed in with the FactSet number. Can you hear me all right?

Michael G. Rippey -- President and Chief Executive Officer

We can hear you, Lucas.

Lucas Pipes -- B. Riley Securities -- Analyst

All right. Well good morning and a good job on the quarter. So first I wanted to ask a clarifying question from Nathan earlier. The order book for 2022, where do you stand today? And how quickly do you expect the fully booked? And first the question is on the coke side, but then of course on the CMT side, would also be curious how your order book is shaping up? Thank you very much.

Michael G. Rippey -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Good questions, Lucas. On the coke front, we're in active discussions now. We have sold a few cargos into 2022. The sales that we make during 2022 and we're not prepared to address them fully today, may take the form of annual contract commitments. They may take the form of quarterly commitments, or they may more simply be a cargo at a time. And that's what we did for all of 2021, basically cargo commitments or quarterly commitments. And what then is required of us is to be active in the market to know the market to be present and to be booking at the appropriate time.

So we didn't enter 2021 full, we just said that we expected to be full, and indeed we've been full. But we were selling cargos here in 2021 filling out the fourth quarter, as recently as September. So we won't enter 2022 in a sold-out position, that's not our intention. But rather to be well positioned to sell-out throughout all of 2022. So we booked a few cargos. We're in active discussions, and there's no reason as we sit here today to think that we won't be able to run full in 2022.

Your question about CMT, we're relatively far down the road in terms of repositioning the assets. The volumes are way up from where they were. It doesn't mean we're not looking for more tonnage, we are, but -- and we're not going to give 2022 guidance today, but volume levels not dissimilar to what we're experiencing today would be an expectation for 2022.

Lucas Pipes -- B. Riley Securities -- Analyst

That's very helpful. Second topic I wanted to touch on was this current coal price environment [Indecipherable] highest prices that I've ever seen. And I wanted to ask what implications this has for your business. Well, one, does it lead to margin expansion in your coke, regular way coke business? Two, there may be -- does it maybe make the contracting that you just touched on more difficult? Would really appreciate in what ways the current coal price environment is impacting your business?

Michael G. Rippey -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, for the most part, coal price surpass through for our company. So the impact of higher or lower coal prices isn't material to us. It does though require as our company's approach to the markets changed over the past few years. And now I am referring to some of our export and foundry activities, and amount of education on our part with our customers, because they don't purchase under these long-term take or pay multi-year contracts. We have to go out and basically reprice every year. So we have to talk to them about the fact that coal prices, met coal prices have risen substantially, and I'm probably a little older than you Lucas and they're the highest I have ever seen too. But they are what they are.

We procure our coal prices at very competitive rates and we're going to pass those changes and inputs on to the market, so it does require time with our customers, like explanation, understanding and we've been socializing if you will, the fact that coal prices are changing in rather dramatic way, and the full expectation is, we'll be passing those increases so long.

And I might add that when coal prices come down in years ahead, which they may certainly from these levels, we won't benefit from that either. Rather we pass that decrease onto a marketplace. We don't compete on coal price, we compete on the quality of our product, and the effectiveness and efficiency with which we convert coal to coke and there we're very, very strong. So we like our place in the market.

Lucas Pipes -- B. Riley Securities -- Analyst

Thank you, Mike. A quick follow-up question. On -- in years prior, I recall maybe tens of millions of dollars of fluctuations due to changes in coal prices. And I think it has to do with your efficient conversion from coal to coke, and some of these benefits being shared between you and your customer. Does that mechanism still hold today? And if so, is the ballpark of tens of millions of dollars accurate or are the right kind of zip code?

Michael G. Rippey -- President and Chief Executive Officer

We do have a benefit or detriment year-over-year as it relates to yield, but it doesn't turn into tens of millions of dollars.

Shantanu Agrawal -- Head of Investor Relations

Yes. And Lucas, I mean, obviously like kind of depending upon what kind of contract there is right, and if we are doing more as Mike mentioned cargo by cargo, I think, it will depend more on what kind of contracts we have though. Yes, but there is yield impact as Mike said of increasing coal prices, but it's not to that magnitude. And obviously like kind of when we provide the 2022 guidance, we'll kind of obviously once our coal prices are finalized and we have kind of good understanding of where the volumes are going, we'll provide that information.

Lucas Pipes -- B. Riley Securities -- Analyst

Okay. I appreciate it. Thank you very much and best of luck.

Michael G. Rippey -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks.

Shantanu Agrawal -- Head of Investor Relations

Thanks.

Operator

And w will take our next question from phone number 646-855-6199 of Matthew K.

Matthew Fields -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Hi, this is Matt Fields. Wanted to -- you touched on the comments about using less coke from your customers. And I appreciate the kind of dollars and cents sort of move behind that, but also kind of I think as coal -- as steel companies aim to be sort of more ESG friendly to the extent that they can in the United States, what do you think the impact is on your business? Do you think that, kind of, the decision to use internal coke resources, which are probably a lot older and maybe more difficult to report emissions wise versus SunCoke's, kind of, newer cleaner coke will make a difference as these steel companies kind of decide sort of their optimum mix going forward?

Michael G. Rippey -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes, you really touched on it, Matt, and that's why we believe we're very well positioned for a more ESG-centric future, where properly steel companies, aluminum producers, whomever it might be are focused on their carbon footprint. And as they do that, and they look to reduce and we talked about it earlier, the substitution of HPI for example into a blast furnace as opposed to coke, we think we're well positioned. We're well positioned, because of the age of our fleet and the environmental footprint of our fleet. We are the MACT standard.

So, and we're the newest fleet, we're also environmentally the most friendly fleet and we are very efficient. So -- and is the old kind of, macro-economics 101 that we all took. When you look at supply and demand curves, you know, you don't want to be in that right quadrant of the supply curve, you don't want to be the high cost inefficient producer. We sit in a very nice place on that supply curve in the left corner, where we're very efficient, we're very new, we're well invested, we're spending $90 million this year on capital, and we expect to continue with that level. We're going to maintain these facilities and good environmental stud, they're going to remain efficient and well positioned to serve the market.

So as there might be less demand for coke in the future, the place you don't want to be again is in that righter most corner. We're nowhere close to being in that corner. And you've really seen it evidenced here in the last few years, Matt, we've entered into the foundry market. The foundry market didn't grow. Demand for foundry cokes remained relatively flat, but supply left. And why did supply leave?

Well, it was the high cost polluting producers that left the older foundry facilities and you've seen a few announcements like that now on the integrated side with some announced closures at both of our main customers and as they are faced with capital decisions and investing in very old facilities, they are making the right decisions. They are investing their moneys closer to their customers and in other parts of their business, which we applaud. So we stand ready to serve them and we will help them in their journey to reduce their carbon footprints.

Matthew Fields -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Thanks for that perspective. My next question is on the free cash flow side. It seems like you're, kind of, already at your 2021 guidance for free cash flow, maybe a touch above, maybe a touch below, but kind of there already. With the kind of implied jump up in capex for the fourth quarter to hit that $90 million guidance, it seems like free cash flow will be a use in the fourth quarter. And it seems like -- I just kind of want to reconcile the commentary you made earlier about continuing to pay down revolver balance in the fourth quarter, despite what seems like will be a free cash flow use? Thanks.

Shantanu Agrawal -- Head of Investor Relations

Yes, I mean, I think there is a little bit, I mean, obviously depending upon where the guidance come in, since we said that it could be modestly higher. So I think there could be a little bit of higher cash flow generation based on where our EBITDA comes in. So whatever excess cash that we have will kind of -- you know, it will go toward the revolver essentially that's what that comment means.

Matthew Fields -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Do you think fourth quarter will be a positive free cash flow quarter?

Shantanu Agrawal -- Head of Investor Relations

A little bit, yes, probably, I mean, depends on, you know, where EBITDA comes in and kind of obviously capex should come in at $90 million, and then what ends up on the coal purchasing right obviously as we move on to a big delta change in the coal pricing, they could be, you know, depend up on what coal purchase we have, it could be a little bit positive.

Matthew Fields -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Okay, great. Thanks very much and good luck on the rest of the year.

Michael G. Rippey -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks.

Operator

And that does conclude today's question-and-answer session. I'll now turn the call back over to Mike Rippey for any additional comments or closing remarks.

Michael G. Rippey -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Good. Again, thank you all for joining us this morning, and as always, your continued interest in SunCoke. We look forward to continuing these discussions in the months and years ahead. So thanks again and we'll talk soon.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 29 minutes

Call participants:

Shantanu Agrawal -- Head of Investor Relations

Michael G. Rippey -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Nathan Martin -- The Benchmark Company -- Analyst

Josh Taykowski -- Credit Suisse Management -- Analyst

Lucas Pipes -- B. Riley Securities -- Analyst

Matthew Fields -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

More SXC analysis

All earnings call transcripts

AlphaStreet Logo

This article is a transcript of this conference call produced for The Motley Fool. While we strive for our Foolish Best, there may be errors, omissions, or inaccuracies in this transcript. As with all our articles, The Motley Fool does not assume any responsibility for your use of this content, and we strongly encourage you to do your own research, including listening to the call yourself and reading the company's SEC filings. Please see our Terms and Conditions for additional details, including our Obligatory Capitalized Disclaimers of Liability.

The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.