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Arconic inc (ARNC) Q3 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

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ARNC earnings call for the period ending December 31, 2021.

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Arconic inc (ARNC 0.90%)
Q3 2021 Earnings Call
Nov 2, 2021, 10:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good day, and thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Arconic Corporation Third Quarter 2021 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] I would now like to hand the conference over to your speaker today, Shane Rourke, Director of Investor Relations.

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Shane Andrew Rourke -- Director of Investor Relations

Thank you, Daniel. Good morning, and welcome to the Arconic Corporation Third Quarter 2021 Earnings Conference Call. I'm joined today by Tim Myers, Chief Executive Officer; and Erick Asmussen, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. After comments by Tim and Erick, we will have a question-and-answer session. For those of you who would like to follow along with the presentation, the slides are posted under the Investors tab on our website. I would like to remind you that today's discussion will contain forward-looking statements relating to future events and expectations. You can find factors that may cause the company's actual results to differ materially from the projections presented in today's presentation and earnings press release in our most recent SEC filings. In addition, we've included some non-GAAP financial measures in our discussion. Reconciliations to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures can be found in today's earnings press release and in the appendix in today's presentation. With that I'd like to turn the call over to Tim.

Timothy D. Myers -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Shane. And good morning everyone. I'll start on slide 4, with three major takeaways for today's call. First, we continue to grow profitably year-over-year in the face of several external headwinds. Second, those headwinds while substantial are fluid and the overriding fact is demand in our key markets is still very strong. And third, we are well positioned to leverage our strong balance sheet and cash flow to both return capital to shareholders and invest in high return organic growth. I'm looking forward to sharing two of those projects with you later in the presentation.

Summarizing the quarter sales were $1.9 billion, an increase of 34% and 10% organically year-over-year. Net income was $16 million or $0.15 a share. Adjusted EBITDA was $171 million, up 4% over last year but down 9% sequentially. The ongoing semiconductor chip shortage in automotive, hiring challenges in our US operations, and a spike in COVID related quarantines over the last few months limited our ability to pivot capacity to serve the industrial segment. The impact of not being able to pivot that capacity was a $15 million reduction in third quarter adjusted EBITDA. To resolve staffing issues, we undertook a number of initiatives including backfilling our workforce with salaried employees, recalling retirees, offering over time incentives, launching an enhanced employee referral program, and we continue to pursue many other site-specific initiatives. During the quarter we hired 759 new employees resulting in the addition of 191 net new employees. The result is we've already seen improved availability of staffing in our operations in the early weeks of this quarter.

Cost inflation of course is an issue across many industries and our businesses are not exempt. In this quarter, we experienced an impact of approximately $8 million related to energy, and the additional employees I just mentioned increased labor cost by another $8 million. In addition, energy curtailments in China triggered a sudden rise in magnesium prices, which will be an issue in future quarters. We've responded with price increases including magnesium surcharge in the US to protect our margins. Of course, there's a short lag between when we will realize the price inflation and when we capture the benefit of higher prices, but they will essentially offset each other as we enter 2022. As we've talked about before, we are converter and we actively manage the impacts of aluminum to our margins. But the sustained price increases throughout this year have put pressure on our cash flows. While this is challenging in the near term, the working capital investment will increase cash flows when aluminum prices stabilize, and eventually return to historic levels. As I look beyond those headwinds demand in our key markets remained strong and we will continue to grow adjusted EBITDA by double digits going into 2022. Furthermore, as we've discussed, our declining legacy cash obligations will create a step change in our generation of free cash flow. This means we will have more opportunities to invest in high return organic growth and continue returning capital to shareholders in the form of share repurchases. In fact, during the third quarter, we repurchased almost $100 million of our shares.

Now let's move to slide 5 to discuss our end markets. As you can see on the bottom right of the slide, in the third quarter, we grew organic revenue year-on-year in all end markets other than aerospace which only declined modestly. Ground transportation sales increased 6% organically from third quarter 2020 primarily due to strength in commercial transportation while the automotive segment continued to be challenged by semiconductor shortages. Our automotive volumes were down 10% year-over-year in the quarter, but North American light vehicle production declined 25% in the same period. Through the first nine months of 2021, our automotive volumes have increased 18% over last year, while the North American light vehicle production is up only 7%. So clearly, we continue to gain share in this market segment. Consumer demand for light vehicles remains very strong and dealer inventory levels are near historical lows. This bodes well for the recovery in automotive semiconductor supply chain issues are resolved. Sales in the industrial market increased 20% organically year-over-year but declined 14% sequentially. As I mentioned on the previous slide, demand for industrial goods remains very strong but staffing limited our ability to service orders in the quarter.

In the building and construction market, sales increased 7% organically year-over-year. While we are seeing modest growth, construction market continues to be challenged by supply chain and cost issues. Sales in the packaging market increased 23% year-over-year, driven by continued strength in our Russia and China packaging sales and a small impact from the early beginnings of the ramp up of packaging operations at our Tennessee facility. Finally, aerospace sales were down 5% year-over-year on an organic basis. As you can see in the pie chart, aerospace sales continue to make up roughly half the percentage of our total sales compared to what they were in 2019. Our aerospace sales reached a bottom in the fourth quarter of last year and we are experiencing the beginning of a long steady recovery in our aerospace sales over the next several years. We continue to be excited about the ramping production rates of single-aisle aircraft as Boeing is making progress on the recertification of the 737 MAX in China, and Airbus has recently announced additional production rate increase.

So bottom line, our end markets are very strong, and with the exception of the temporary semiconductor constraints all are growing well above GDP. With that, I'll turn it over to Erick to discuss third quarter results in more detail.

Erick R. Asmussen -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Tim. I'll start on slide 6 with highlights. Revenue in the first quarter was $1.9 billion, up 5% from the prior quarter and up 10% organically year-over-year. Net income for the quarter was $16 million or $0.15 per share compared to $5 million or $0.05 per share in the third quarter last year. Adjusted EBITDA was $171 million, which was an increase of $6 million or 4% year-over-year, but a decline from the prior quarter. The sequential decline was primarily a result of the challenges related to continued semiconductor impacts and our ability to service industrial orders due to labor shortages and cost pressures related to energy as well as international freight availability issues. Free cash flow for the quarter was a use of $93 million and is largely due to the higher cost of aluminum held in working capital which I will summarize in more detail on the following slides. Capital expenditures were 51 million in the quarter or approximately 2.7% of sales. And as Tim mentioned, we repurchased approximately $100 million of shares in the quarter and we ended the quarter with a cash balance of $349 million and total liquidity and availability of approximately $1.1 billion.

Turning to slide 7, I'll review our performance in more detail. Revenue was almost $1.9 billion in the quarter and increased $475 million year-over-year primarily due to the impacts of higher aluminum prices as well as greater volume and mix compared to the third quarter of last year. Adjusted EBITDA was $171 million, up $6 million year-over-year due to favorable pricing, volume, mix, and net savings. This was primarily offset by inflation, foreign exchange and other non-nonrecurring year over year impacts. While adjusted EBITDA grew 4% year-over-year, we could have delivered $50 million more had it not been for the supply chain constraints and labor shortages that impacted our production and sales. As you can imagine in a complex manufacturing company like ours, it takes about six weeks to get new employees up to speed, so the impacts of the new hires that Tim mentioned will not be apparent until the fourth quarter. You can see on the slide, the third quarter of last year benefited from $34 million of temporary cash conservation actions that have since ended, which was offset -- which was an offset of our net savings of $24 million in the quarter. The unfavorable aluminum price of $11 million in the quarter is related to the impacts of rise in prices on aluminum to our Building and Construction segment. As you will see on the next slide in more detail, we pass through the vast majority of alumina cost in our businesses bought for the BCS segment which we pass through aluminum through pricing as aluminum is only a portion of the contract price for projects in this business.

Turning to slide 8, I'll review our segment detail more. Slide 8, starting with our Rolled Products segment, revenue was approximately $1.6 billion, up 14% organically year-over-year, primarily as a result of ongoing growth in ground transportation, industrial, and packaging markets. EBITDA was $155 million, up $17 million or 12% year-over-year reflecting strong price, volume and net savings. Revenue in our Building and Construction segment in the third quarter was $257 million, up $16 million year-over-year, up 2% organically. Adjusted EBITDA was $34 million, down $6 million year-over-year as net savings did not offset prior year temporary actions in the quarter. Revenue in our Extrusions segment was $74 million, down 23% organically year-over-year. Adjusted EBITDA was a loss of $7 million versus a loss of $6 million last year as aerospace weakness which was historically 50% of this segment sales continues to impacts this segment's performance. Over the last year, we have its -- restructured the operating footprint of this segment. And as you can see on the slide, we generated $6 million of net savings in the quarter. We believe the combination of structural actions and aerospace market recovery will drive meaningful improvement in the financial performance of this segment.

Now, moving to Slide [Indecipherable] I will review the updated revenue outlook for each of our end markets. We expect ground transportation organic revenue to increase 20% to 25% year-over-year compared to our prior expectation of 25% to 30%. The reduction in our expectations is a result of the continued issues in semiconductor supply chain impacting automotive production and our customers. We continue to expect industrial organic growth to grow at 25% to 30% for the full year. While industrial production was impacted by our labor issues in the third quarter, we expect to work through the backlog by the end of this year. Demand in these markets remained very strong through the combination of the US trade's case and the economic recovery. Building and Construction organic growth expectations remain in the range of 0% to 5%. Growth in this market continues to be hampered by global supply chain and labor issues. In the packaging market, we now expect full-year growth of 20% to 25% compared to our prior view of 15% to 20%. The increase in expectation is driven by continued strength in the Russian and Chinese packaging markets as well as the future acceleration of the North American packaging ramp into the latter part of this year. Our aerospace revenue outlook remains unchanged at a decline of 25% to 30% year-over-year due to ongoing destocking in the supply chain and the slow ramp of production at OEMs. As we stated, we believe the supply chain is destocking, and when the destocking reaches end we would expect growth to pick up substantially as OEMs increase build rates in the medium term.

Turning to slide 10, I'll discuss some of the labor pressures we experienced in the quarter in more detail. Our third quarter results were significantly impacted by labor issues that limited our ability to produce for the industrial end markets. We were already seeing a tightness in our staffing prior to the spike of COVID cases that happened late this summer. When employee quarantine rates increased, it forced us to idle entire ships that would've otherwise been dedicated to fulfillment of industrial orders. We have worked very hard and continue to focus on addressing staffing issues. As Tim mentioned, we have conducted widespread hiring campaigns and other initiatives. We hired 759 employees in the quarter and a net of 191 in the quarter, and we are working hard to get these new hires trained. As I mentioned, it takes about six weeks to train new employees and we are already seeing the increase in our productivity. We expect to clear the $60 million industrial backlog in the quarter.

Turn to slide 11. I'll discuss some of the cash flow pressures we continue to experience from the unprecedented rise in aluminum prices throughout the year. As you can see on the left side, the price of alumina has continue to escalate throughout the year and reached record highs in October. Aluminum is our largest input cost. We pass through changes to our customers which mitigates the impact to our profitability. However, price changes do have an impact of the net working capital on our balance sheet and our free cash flow when prices move in either direction. Since separation, we have taken efforts to reduce and manage our cash conversion days. While our working capital days have remained relatively stable, working capital on the balance sheet, it increased substantially through -- during the year due to rising price of aluminum. In the third quarter, our working capital increased $122 million, and this is primarily a result of higher aluminum prices. $100 per metric ton change in aluminum price results in approximately $20 million of net working capital change. And from last year's ending through the third quarter ending aluminum price is up $1300 per metric ton, or in an impact of approximately $250 million to $300 million to our net working capital. After reaching nearly $4,000 per metric ton in mid-October, aluminum prices have recently started to decline. While this is favorable for our working capital, the timing of the impact will not be seen in a meaningful way until the first quarter of next year. Working capital management remains a priority. In the company we continue to drive improvement in this area. It's important to note that aluminum prices when they return to normal historic levels, we would expect to see some -- the same pattern of working capital impact but in reverse. If aluminum prices remain at the current spot level, this would result in a source of cash as we enter the new year.

Now I'll turn the call back over to Tim to talk about our growth path forward.

Timothy D. Myers -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Erick. Now that we've covered the quarter, let's transition to talk about the trajectory of this business moving forward, including a couple of exciting organic investments we'd like to share.

Starting on slide 13, the fundamentals of our five markets haven't changed. Favorable fundamentals should provide growth rates well above GDP across all of them for the next several years. What's great about our strategic position is that we're relatively balanced. So we don't have to worry if one of them takes a pause. I suppose that's a great segue into our largest market segment. While the automotive and commercial transportation industry is managing through supply chain issues particularly availability of semiconductor chips, aluminum is winning as lightweighting lowers fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions on traditional vehicles and it extends the range for electric vehicles in the faster growing segment of that market. And in the short-term, there is pent-up demand at the consumer level driven by the chip shortage and the shallow dealership inventory pipeline that needs to be rebuilt. September's inventory level is close to 24 days in North America, which is much less than half of historical levels. Just bringing the channels inventory back to 50 days, we'll require more than 1.5 million vehicles above consumer demand.

In industrial as we've discussed, we're benefiting from the US trade case and the general economic recovery. Import levels have remained low and demand has remained strong. It's created the opportunity for growth in demand and higher prices, which is a great combination. We believe the non-residential building and construction market bottomed out this year, and experts expect non-residential construction to accelerate more significantly starting in 2023 reached a [Indecipherable] 6% compound annual growth rate through at least 2025. In the packaging market, can makers continue to increase capacity to support growing beverage can demand. That means demand for can sheet will need to continue to grow to keep pace, creating strong volume and pricing opportunities for our products. We began the ramp up of our packaging at Tennessee operations last month. We will achieve roughly 50% of our targeted capacity in the fourth quarter of this year and will essentially be at full production in the first half of 2022. Lastly, in aerospace, we are in the early beginnings of a long sustained recovery. The third quarter was our third consecutive quarter of modest sequential growth in aerospace shipments. We expect the fourth quarter to be more of the same, and in 2022 we should see a more significant step up in volumes as a supply chain becomes fully destocked and we realize the full benefit of the aerospace OEMs ramp up, particularly on single-aisle aircraft. The top takeaway for this slide is that all of our end markets are expected to grow at a multiple of GDP over the next few years and we have the ability to allocate capacity where we see the greatest return. This is why we believe we can continue to grow adjusted EBITDA year-over-year by double-digits in the future.

Now let's talk about those investments I mentioned earlier on slide 14. The buoyancy in our markets is creating great opportunity to invest in high return short payback organic growth projects spanning our capacity to keep pace with our growing markets. We are increasing the capacity of the hot mill at our Lancaster, Pennsylvania facility by over 100 million British pounds. The main component of this project is a new mill stand that reduces the number of passes required by the hot mill and therefore it increases capacity. This equipment will be installed in 2022, qualifications will occur late next year, and it will be at full capacity some time in the first half of 2023. At our Davenport Iowa facility we're adding 130 million British pounds of melting and casting capacity. This will increase our ability to recycle scrap, improve our environmental footprint, shorten our supply chain by lowering our ingot purchases, and generate a great cost-savings opportunity for the plant. We expect that asset to be running at full capacity by the second half of next year. All projects are underway as we speak and the combined investment is less than $100 million. We expect them to generate roughly $75 million of incremental run rate EBITDA, starting in 2023. $75 million annual return and less than $100 million in investments generates a rate of return well in excess of our 25% threshold. And even better, these are being funded within the capital guidance that we've communicated for Arconic of 3% or less of annual revenue.

Slide 15 provides an update on the EBITDA uplift trajectory we previously committed to. We expect to achieve the $300 million uplift despite the short-term issues we experienced this quarter around semiconductor shortages and staffing which impacted our net productivity. With the debottlenecking projects in Lancaster and Davenport that I just discussed, we're upsizing our program to include an additional $75 million of EBITDA on a run rate basis by the end of 2023. The organic EBITDA growth from 600 million pounds of capacity primarily from packaging, industrial and automotive is on track and we are starting to ramp up the packaging operations in Tennessee in the fourth quarter, and this will continue through the first half of 2022. The permanent cost out initiatives are complete and our overhead cost relative to sales remained more than 100 basis points below pre-pandemic levels. We have fully realize the targeted productivity gains as we -- and as we overcome the staffing challenges and realize the benefit of the pricing actions we have already taken to offset increases in input costs such as energy and magnesium, we will see this drop to the bottom line of our results.

Moving to Slide 16 I'd like to review the coming step change in free cash flow. This is a slide that we've shared before that serves to continue to highlight the coming step change in free cash flow resulting from lower cash obligations moving forward. As a reminder, our gross pension and OPEB liability has declined by 37% since separation, while our net after-tax pension and OPEB liability is down 40% in that same timeframe. Combining this with the wind down of our largest environmental project in Grasse River New York, our annual cash needs will be lower by $250 million in 2022 and beyond for these types of issues.

Moving to slide 17, we have updated our full-year 2021 outlook to reflect the impact of increasing aluminum price, the cost pressures relating to staffing energy and freight, and the continuing shortage of semiconductor chips impacting automotive demand. Our revenue guidance has been revised to a range of $7.5 billion to $7.7 billion from the previous $7.3 billion to $7.6 billion and we've tightened expected adjusted EBITDA to be in the range of $710 million to $730 million, 16% improvement year-on-year at the center of the range, reflecting the impact of lower industrial shipments in the third quarter and ongoing cost pressures associated with staffing and energy that we expect will continue through the remainder of the year. Adjusted free cash flow is now expected to be approximately $50 million for the full year compared to our previous view of approximately $250 million. The change in our outlook for free cash flow reflects the significant impact of continued aluminum price increases on our net working capital as Erick mentioned as well as the increase we anticipate in accounts receivable as we worked down the industrial backlog over the quarter. As a reminder, adjusted free cash flow excludes a total of approximately $600 million in pension, environmental and OPEB payments which were made in 2021. These requirements dropped to less than $100 million in 2022 representing a $0.5 billion less in obligations going into next year.

Wrapping up on slide 18, we have meaningfully improved adjusted EBITDA this year, up 15% through the first nine months of the year. While we are certainly experiencing the challenges from inflation, freight, energy and staffing, these headwinds are temporary. We have multiple counter measures being put in place to mitigate them, particularly in procurement, pricing, and staffing. The opportunity is in the underlying market demand that will continue to drive double-digit EBITDA growth over the next few years. That profitability combined with declining legacy cash obligation will drive significant free cash flow growth, and we have a disciplined capital allocation strategy that we are already executing on. We repurchased nearly $100 million of shares in the quarter and we've continued that program into the fourth quarter. So wrapping up, here is what's important to remember. We've delivered significant year-over-year EBITDA growth throughout the year despite a number of challenges. Our end market trends continue to support sustainable double digit earnings growth. And we are poised to deliver meaningful free cash flow, and are already returning capital back to our shareholders in the form of smart investments and share repurchases. At this time, I'd like to open it up for questions and I'll turn it back over to Daniel to help us facilitate those.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from Curt Woodworth with Credit Suisse. Your line is now open.

Curtis Woodworth -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Thanks, good morning, Tim, and Erick.

Timothy D. Myers -- Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, Curt.

Erick R. Asmussen -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Good morning, Curt.

Curtis Woodworth -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

First question is with respect to magnesium and silica, you mentioned that you're implementing alloy surcharge mechanism. So I just want to confirm, did you say that you would be price cost neutral with respect to that entering the year. And can you give us a sense, will there be any significant headwind that you would look to phase in the fourth quarter on that issue. And then secondarily on availability, do you feel like your procurement needs are well stocked for next year?

Timothy D. Myers -- Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I'll start with the end. We have our needs covered for this year and 2022. So we're feeling comfortable with the supply line. I don't think we'll see a significant impact from magnesium in the fourth quarter. We had already secured our needs for the year. So it's really something that we're looking at on the forward. I do expect that the surcharge and other pricing actions we've taken will not only offset the increase that we're seeing in the alloying materials, the market has been rather buoyant and I think that our pricing actions will actually be a benefit as we turn into the first quarter of next year.

Curtis Woodworth -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Okay, great. And then with respect to aerospace, just looking at slide 13 where you've got the delivery rate up in the close to 40% this year and the base is almost doubling the following year relative to 2020, but you're obviously down 25% to 30% this year, so clearly a big mismatch between delivery rate versus production because they're selling out of inventory. But how should we think about kind of the cadence of that business going into next year based on say slide 13? Would there be significant kind of reuptake in inventory. Have you had any discussions around aerospace nominations for next year? And also can you just give us a sense today for what the latent say EBITDA potential in that business is, kind of what your current run rate would look like today versus say where it was in '19?

Timothy D. Myers -- Chief Executive Officer

So, well, let's start with, we've kind of seen modest sequential improvement in our aerospace shipments every quarter this year, let's say, mid-single digit kind of numbers. We've been having discussions for a long time about when destocking is going to happen. We have always kind of been in the mindset I'll believe it when I see the orders start to show up, we're starting to see orders show up. I would think that we are going to see an acceleration in that mid-single digit growth as we go through the end of the year and into next year. So I think -- I don't think the supply chain is fully destocked but we're starting to see signs that not only the OEMs but the distributors are starting to reload. So it's -- now let's take Boeing as a proxy because we're most exposed to single-aisle aircraft. And if you go back to the first quarter of this year, they were I think around ten aircraft a month. And as we enter this part of the year, I think there is somewhere between 15 and 20 on different months through the third quarter. And they've said that they're going to be at 31 in the early parts of 2022. So if you use that as a proxy, once the supply chain clears, we should be seeing double-digit recovery in our aerospace shipments in 2022 at some point. That would be my expectation. And as we shared I think it was in the first quarter call, we secured about $2 billion in forward contracts with three customers that take us all the way out toward the end of the decade. So we're feeling good about our position in aerospace.

Curtis Woodworth -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Okay and then just last one on the growth projects. I mean, pretty incredible payback on those two projects. I guess we're somewhat surprised that there wasn't any incremental capacity kind of coming for can sheet given the announcements we have seen upstream on the can side. So do you expect any potential debottlenecking there or is there a potential to say expand some of the plants in Russia or Hungary which you know generally are very well positioned on the cost curve, or how should we think about that. Thank you.

Timothy D. Myers -- Chief Executive Officer

Yes. So we're shaping up a number of potential investments. We announced two today. If you think about where those projects are positioned, they're really servicing aerospace, automotive, the Davenport -- that Devonport facility has aerospace, automotive, industrial, casting capacity is going to serve all three. Lancaster is predominantly industrial. The pricing and margins in those markets, it kind of justifies those investments. We've got several others that we're shaping up. And as you can imagine, before we come out with them we want to have the engineering work done to the extent that we're confident in the estimate. And if they're let's say more market concentrated we probably would line up customers -- customer contracts and government incentives and so on and so forth, but we see opportunities across the network. We go after them based on their return profile. You mentioned the continued ramp up in North American packaging. We're not quite seeing the pricing and margin profile there where we could make a significant bet on bringing up the packaging capacity. But if the market continues to grow the way that it has and the can makers continue importing cans from all over the world to backfill, eventually I think the conditions for investment could materialize.

Curtis Woodworth -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Great. Really appreciate your thoughts. Thank you.

Timothy D. Myers -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Curt.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Emily Chiang with Goldman Sachs. Your line is now open.

Emily Chiang -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Good morning, Tim and Erick and thanks for taking my questions. My first one is just around some of the comments you made around the energy price inflation. First, could you provide us some color exactly where in the portfolio are you seeing the greatest pressure points here and perhaps how do you think about your [Indecipherable] contracting strategy in those regions.

Timothy D. Myers -- Chief Executive Officer

Yes. So first of all, I would say the energy issue is predominantly outside of the US. You've probably seen there has been a lot of pressure on natural gas in Europe in particular that's driving up natural gas and electric prices. We had a similar issue in China and we do have a hedging program that involves energy, but it's not a commodity that we had fully covered. When you think of energy costs in totality, I think it's probably around 4% of our costs. So it's significant in terms of dollars $8 million of $8 million if you look at it relative to our whole cost structure not as much. But I will tell you that the surprise in the volatility that we're seeing in input cost in general have caused us to take a pause and think about probably increasing our hedging activities on that particular commodity moving forward.

Emily Chiang -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Got it. That's very clear. And then maybe a follow-up is just around an early read on 2022 capex. I know you mentioned that even with the two investments that you've announced today that capex should largely remain within that 3% of total revenues. Should we take that assuming 2021 revenue's guide that that could imply sort of $220 mil to $230 mil type of capex range for next year.

Timothy D. Myers -- Chief Executive Officer

I don't think we've guided 2022 revenue yet, but I would say as the business grows -- as the business grows it will provide the opportunity for us to increase our investment profile, and particularly if we continue to find very high return projects like the two that I just described. We don't want to stunt the growth of the company. And if we decide at any point that we're going to go above the 3% guideline to harvest some of those opportunities, we would communicate that.

Emily Chiang -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Got it. That's clear. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Josh Sullivan with The Benchmark Company. Your line is now open.

Josh Sullivan -- The Benchmark Company -- Analyst

Hey, good morning.

Erick R. Asmussen -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Good morning.

Timothy D. Myers -- Chief Executive Officer

Good morning.

Josh Sullivan -- The Benchmark Company -- Analyst

How large do you envision your recycling efforts eventually getting? How much of your internal needs for scrap [Indecipherable] do you think you can replace with this. And then as you look longer-term, is there a percentage goal you're targeting or anything?

Timothy D. Myers -- Chief Executive Officer

Well, we continue to target improving our scrap utilization. The project down in Davenport, a 130 million pounds of casting capacity, I think that our North American networking was running around 60% scrap utilization plus or minus. So that could give you a good feel for what that one project is going to do to improving our environmental footprint and our cost profile. But probably the bigger opportunity in the short term is we're reentering packaging down in Tennessee, as we speak. And if you're doing a good job in that industry, you're consuming 85%, 90% UBCs and other scrap streams to continue driving that. So it's great business sense for us because we're buying scrap at a nice discount to having to consume prime, and it's definitely helping our environmental footprint. I was looking the other day I think since 2019 pre-COVID which was already a pretty good year for scrap utilization, we've increased our scrap consumption by about 60 million British pounds a quarter here in North America, to give that some scale. And I think that's going to continue.

Josh Sullivan -- The Benchmark Company -- Analyst

Got it. And then on the increased hot mill capacity at Lancaster, how does this impact the overall ecosystem between Tennessee and Devonport? Can you move any capacity in general engineering from one facility to another, maybe to open up can sheet capacity. Just curious how the ecosystem between the plants works as you layer in these investments.

Timothy D. Myers -- Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, absolutely. And absolutely increasing growth industrial capacity, combined with what we've done in Tennessee where we've essentially balanced facility across three markets, it just gives us that much more flexibility. If we saw that, for instance packaging opportunities starting to become more exciting for us than industrial, we can pivot some volume from Tennessee up to Lancaster, fly some across to Davenport. So as we continue to expand our footprint, we can continue to improve our optionality.

Josh Sullivan -- The Benchmark Company -- Analyst

And then just one last one on automotive. What do your inventories look like heading into '22 just given the fits and starts on the auto side and semiconductor issues throughout the year. Are you holding a substantial amount of auto inventory that's ready to go once demand starting to pull through?

Timothy D. Myers -- Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, absolutely, I mean let's say the shelves are stocked, unfortunately. And we have a requirements contract in automotive and you can't afford to be wrong. And in many cases, we're not getting a lot of visibility when they run into a constraint primarily with the chips. And with the lead times that we have, often times by the time we find out that they're not going to take the order or the pools are already -- the coils are already cooling in one of our plants waiting to go on a truck. So we've got to put them in inventory.

Josh Sullivan -- The Benchmark Company -- Analyst

Thank you for the time. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. [Operator Instructions] Our next question comes from current Blanchard with Deutsche Bank. Your line is now open.

Corinne Blanchard -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Hey, good morning, thank you for taking my question. I just have a follow-up question on magnesium. You mentioned [Indecipherable] secure magnesium from next year. However, I think we have heard the industry only having visibility for about one to two quarter ahead, especially in Europe. Can you just remind me how do you position yourself in Europe and if sure so [Indecipherable] secure your 2022 volume there for magnesium or was it more specifically for the US?

Timothy D. Myers -- Chief Executive Officer

So, yeah, the issue that you run into with magnesium, of course, is it oxidizes, right? So it has a shelf life. That said, we have put annual supply contracts in place to cover our needs in North America, Russia, Europe and China. In fact, yeah, we're in good shape. We actually had a little bit of buffer stock strategically here in North America. So as I said that material oxidizes so we can only buy forward so much but we have some material that we're going to be able to roll into the first quarter at 2020 prices.

Corinne Blanchard -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Okay. So even in Europe I'm just trying to figure out, because we see a lot of different comments in the industry. But even in Europe, you don't -- you're not already concerned in running into any volume issue or capacity issue for next year for magnesium.

Timothy D. Myers -- Chief Executive Officer

No, no. We feel comfortable. And as we follow the market the other thing you've seen is some of the provinces in China have have relaxed the restrictions and you've got some of the MAG suppliers back up to 80%. So we're feeling comfortable.

Corinne Blanchard -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Okay, great. Thank you. And just maybe one answer for me is, could you just walk us through operating cash flow and then the working capital expectation for 4Q.

Erick R. Asmussen -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

So for operating cash flow, we'll see in the quarter we had a sizable use of cash primarily coming from working capital. So as you walk through the operating cash flow, that's in our press release, you'll see that the operating cash flow, you'll see the $120 or so million use of cash coming from AR and inventory offset by payables. And that would be the sort of the bulk. And I think that are on a forward basis, a lot of it's going to depend on that movement on the spot price. I don't think we're going to see a lot of benefit from the recent ramp down in aluminum or working capital in Q4, but it will clearly have a benefit in Q1 as aluminum goes down. Corrine [Indecipherable] that help you with the sort of the how to science and metal when we put the guidance and for every 100, it's about a $20 million move to help you parameter the movements of working capital as you try to forecast aluminum price in the future.

Corinne Blanchard -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Great, thank you. That's it from me.

Operator

Thank you. I am showing no further questions at this time. I would now like to turn the conference back over to Tim Myers.

Timothy D. Myers -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Daniel. In closing, I'd like to thank everyone for your continued interest in Arconic. As a reminder, we will deliver double-digit earnings growth in 2021. We're well positioned to deliver double-digit earnings growth in 2022 driven by among other things, the ramp up of packaging in North America, a good pricing environment across our markets particularly the industrial market, and the continued gradual recovery of our aerospace business. And today, we highlighted two additional investments that will be tailwinds to extend that journey into 2023. Finally, we're well positioned to invest in additional opportunities like those we announced today, as well as consider a variety of additional options to provide returns to our shareholders. Thank you, and I look forward to talking to you again next quarter.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 46 minutes

Call participants:

Shane Andrew Rourke -- Director of Investor Relations

Timothy D. Myers -- Chief Executive Officer

Erick R. Asmussen -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Curtis Woodworth -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Emily Chiang -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Josh Sullivan -- The Benchmark Company -- Analyst

Corinne Blanchard -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

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