Houston, Texas – Kirby Corporation (NYSE:KEX) has announced record net earnings attributable to Kirby for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2011 of $56.2 million, or $1.00 per share, compared with $31.6 million, or $.59 per share, for the 2010 fourth quarter. Consolidated revenues for the 2011 fourth quarter were a record $550.1 million compared with $286.3 million reported for the 2010 fourth quarter.
The 2011 fourth quarter results included a $2.7 million before taxes, or $.03 per share, multi-year income tax refund, a $1.25 million before taxes, or $.01 per share, severance charge associated with the integration of K-Sea Transportation Partners LLC (“K-Sea”) into Kirby, and a $3.7 million before taxes, or $.04 per share, charge associated with increasing the fair value of United Holdings LLC’s (“United”) contingent earnout liability.
Joe Pyne, Kirby’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented, “Our record fourth quarter results were a reflection of continued favorable United States petrochemical production levels and a continued strong export market, all leading to high inland tank barge utilization levels and favorable term and spot contract pricing. K-Sea, our coastwise transportation company acquired on July 1, 2011, as anticipated, had its results impacted by a seasonal decline in refined products demand, winter weather operating conditions and the severance charge.”
Mr. Pyne continued, “Our record fourth quarter results also reflected record earnings from United, our land-based distributor and service provider of engine and transmission related products and manufacturer of oilfield equipment, acquired on April 15, 2011. United’s operating results reflect a continued strong market for the manufacture of oilfield equipment used in the hydraulic fracturing of shale formations, and the sale and service of transmissions and engines.”
Kirby reported net earnings attributable to Kirby for the 2011 year of $183.0 million, or $3.33 per share, compared with $116.2 million, or $2.15 per share for 2010. Consolidated revenues for 2011 were $1.85 billion compared $1.11 billion for 2010.
Segment Results – Marine Transportation
Marine transportation revenues for the 2011 fourth quarter were $335.1 million, a 44% increase compared with the 2010 fourth quarter, and operating income was $73.0 million, a 48% increase compared with the 2010 fourth quarter. The fourth quarter results reflected continued strong inland petrochemical and black oil products tank barge utilization levels in the low to mid 90% range. The United States petrochemical industry benefited from low natural gas prices and its positive impact on the industry’s global competitiveness, leading to continued favorable production volumes for both domestic and foreign destinations. The black oil products fleet benefited from the continued exportation of heavy fuel oils and demand for the transportation of crude oil principally from the Eagle Ford shale formations in South Texas and from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast. The strong utilization levels in both the petrochemical and black oil products fleets led to higher term and spot contract pricing during the 2011 fourth quarter. Diesel fuel prices for the 2011 fourth quarter increased 37% compared with the 2010 fourth quarter, thereby positively impacting marine transportation revenues since fuel price increases are covered by fuel escalation and de-escalation clauses in term contracts. K-Sea generated approximately 20% of the marine transportation segment’s 2011 fourth quarter revenues. Normal fourth quarter seasonality of the refined products market, winter weather conditions and seasonal Alaska and Great Lakes market closures negatively impacted K-Sea’s fleet utilization levels and operating results. K-Sea’s operating results also included a $1.25 million severance charge associated with the integration of K-Sea into Kirby. K-Sea’s fleet utilization level averaged in the 75% to 80% range.
The marine transportation operating margin for the 2011 fourth quarter was 21.8% compared with 21.2% for the 2010 fourth quarter, reflecting the strong inland petrochemical and black oil products markets, the resulting strong equipment utilization levels and higher term and spot contract pricing, partially offset by a lower K-Sea operating margin, including the $1.25 million severance charge.
Segment Results – Diesel Engine Services
Diesel engine services revenues for the 2011 fourth quarter were $215.0 million compared with $53.9 million for the 2010 fourth quarter, and operating income was $22.7 million compared with $6.9 million for the 2010 fourth quarter. United’s continued strong land-based market for the manufacture of oilfield equipment used in the hydraulic fracturing of shale formations, and continued strong sale and service of diesel engines, transmissions and compression systems were the primary contributors to the significantly higher revenues and operating income. United contributed approximately 75% of the 2011 fourth quarter diesel engine services segment’s revenues.
The segment also benefited from more favorable service work and direct parts sales from its medium-speed and high-speed marine markets, a reflection of the improved inland marine transportation market. Service and direct parts sales in both the medium-speed and high-speed Gulf Coast oil services market generally remained weak and competitive. The diesel engine services 2011 fourth quarter and year operating results included a charge to selling, general and administrative expense of $3.7 million, or $.04 per share, and $6.3 million, or $.07 per share, respectively, increasing the fair value of the contingent earnout liability associated with the April 2011 acquisition of United. As part of the United acquisition, United’s former owners are eligible to receive a three-year earnout provision for up to an additional $50 million payable in 2014, dependent on achieving certain financial targets. The estimated fair value of the earnout to be paid to the former owners is recorded as a contingent liability on Kirby’s balance sheet. The estimated fair value of the earnout is based on probability weighting and discounting various potential payments. Any change in the fair value of the contingent liability during a quarter is included in earnings until the earnout is settled. As of December 31, 2011, the Company had recorded a contingent earnout liability of $22.6 million. The diesel engine services operating margin for the 2011 fourth quarter was 10.6%, reflecting the continued strong land-based markets and favorable inland marine market.
General Corporate Expenses
General corporate expenses for the 2011 fourth quarter and year were $2.7 million and $17.9 million compared with $2.6 million and $13.2 million for the 2010 fourth quarter and year, respectively. The year over year increase of $4.7 million primarily reflected United and K-Sea acquisition related transaction fees and other expenses.
Acquisition of Seaboats, Inc.
On December 15, 2011, Kirby purchased the coastwise tank barge fleet of Seaboats, Inc. and affiliated companies, consisting of three 80,000 barrel coastwise tank barge and tug units for $42.7 million in cash. The three coastwise tank barge and tug units operate along the East Coast and have an average age of five years. Financing of the purchase was through Kirby’s $250 million revolving credit facility.
Commenting on the 2012 full year and first quarter market outlook and guidance, Mr. Pyne said, “Our 2012 full year earnings guidance is $3.85 to $4.05 per share, excluding any potential changes to the United contingent earnout liability.” Regarding the United contingent earnout liability, Kirby will perform a fair value assessment each quarter of the contingent liability using a probability weighted and discounted valuation with any change to the earnout recorded in earnings.
Mr. Pyne continued, “While the United States economy has shown signs of a slow recovery during 2011, a significant amount of uncertainty still exists in the United States and world economies as we move into 2012. This uncertainty is reflected in our 2012 full year earnings guidance. The low end guidance of $3.85 assumes marine transportation inland and coastwise equipment utilization levels will be consistent with the last half of 2011, inland term and spot contract renewals will be consistent with 2011 average rate increases and coastwise pricing will be neutral. For the diesel engine services segment, our low end guidance assumes our land-based oil services market will not be as robust as 2011, with some softness in the manufacture of oilfield equipment used in hydraulic fracturing, and our marine and power generation markets will perform similarly to 2011, with some minor improvement in the Gulf Coast oil services market. Our high end guidance of $4.05 assumes both inland and coastwise marine transportation utilization levels will improve modestly, leading to higher term and spot contract pricing. For the diesel engine services segment, our high end guidance assumes our land-based oil services market will be similar to 2011 with continued strong manufacturing and new remanufacturing of oilfield equipment, as well as stronger service levels in land-based, marine, Gulf Coast oil services and power generation markets.”
Regarding the first quarter guidance, Mr. Pyne stated, “Our 2012 first quarter guidance is $.86 to $.93 per share, excluding any potential changes to the United contingent earnout liability, compared with $.60 per share reported for the 2011 first quarter. Our guidance includes some unfavorable winter weather conditions in both our inland and coastwise trade, equipment utilization levels in the low to mid 90% levels in our inland petrochemical and black oil products fleets and low to mid 70% utilization levels in our liquid coastwise trade, leading to continued favorable inland pricing and stable pricing in our coastwise market. In our diesel engine services segment, we anticipate continued favorable demand for the land-based manufacture and remanufacture of oilfield equipment, and sale and service of transmissions and engines.”
Mr. Pyne further commented, “Our 2012 capital spending guidance range is $255 to $265 million, including approximately $100 million for the construction of 55 inland tank barges and five inland towboats. This guidance range also includes approximately $70 million in progress payments on the construction of two offshore articulated dry-bulk barge and tugboat units scheduled for delivery in the 2012 fourth quarter with an estimated cost of $52 million each. The balance of approximately $85 to $95 million is primarily capital upgrades and improvements to existing marine equipment and facilities.”