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Edited Transcript of AKER.OL earnings conference call or presentation 18-Jul-19 7:00am GMT

Q2 2019 Aker ASA Earnings Call

Oslo Jul 19, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Aker ASA earnings conference call or presentation Thursday, July 18, 2019 at 7:00:00am GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Frank Ove Reite

Aker ASA - CFO

* Øyvind Eriksen

Aker ASA - President & CEO

* Torbjørn Kjus

Aker ASA - Chief Economist & Head of IR

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Presentation

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Torbjørn Kjus, Aker ASA - Chief Economist & Head of IR [1]

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Hello, everyone, and good morning. Welcome to Aker's Half Year and Second Quarter 2019 Results Presentation. We will start today's presentation with Aker's President and CEO, Øyvind Eriksen. He will walk you through the highlights of the quarter and the development of our Industrial Holdings portfolio. Aker's CFO, Frank Reite will then go through the financial investments portfolio and the first half accounts in more detail. And after the presentation, we will open up for Q&A.

And with that, I hand it over to Øyvind.

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Øyvind Eriksen, Aker ASA - President & CEO [2]

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Thank you, Torbjørn. Good morning, and welcome to Aker's second quarter and half year results presentation.

Let me start with the highlights from the first half of the year. Aker's net asset value was up NOK 4.7 billion in the first half of 2019, including NOK 1.7 billion in paid dividends. The net asset value was NOK 44.8 billion at the end of the second quarter, up from NOK 41.7 billion at the year-end 2018.

Our share price rose 11.1% in the first half adjusted for dividend. This compares to an 8.2% return in the same period for the Oslo Stock Exchange.

Aker's liquidity reserves stood at NOK 6.1 billion, including 3.4 billion in cash. And in May, we distributed at NOK 22.5 the per share dividend to our shareholders, equal to 4% of net asset value and a 4.9% direct yield as per year-end 2018.

Net asset values decreased by NOK 9.8 billion in the second quarter, mainly due to a large value drop in our key asset, Aker BP. This highlights the volatility in the markets in which we operate. After the close of the quarter, the net asset value has, however, increased by NOK 300 million.

The second quarter offered the following main events for our portfolio companies. Aker BP agreed the senior unsecured credit facility of USD 4 billion. Aker BP also raised $750 million in senior notes priced at a favorable rate of 4.75%. Aker Energy resubmitted a plan for operational development in Ghana. Aker Energy also assisted AGM Petroleum, a company controlled by our main shareholder in drilling operations in the South Deepwater Tano block with discovery oil as a result. And ocean yield acquired 3 dry bulk vessels on long-term charters.

Subsequent to quarter end, Aker Energy entered into a financing agreement with Africa Finance Corporation, a multilateral investment-grade rated financial institution focusing on infrastructure projects in Africa. The institution intends to participate also in future capital market activities with Aker Energy.

Moreover, Aker BP made a large new oil discovery in the NOAKA area named Liatårnet. The preliminary estimates suggests 80 to 200 million barrels of recoverable reserves. Aker BP's ownership of Liatårnet is 90% making this a high impact discovery for the company.

Moving on to Slide 3. In the first half of 2019, Aker's net asset value rose to NOK 44.8 billion representing an 11.3% value increase when including dividend paid in the second quarter. Of the listed Industrial Holdings, Aker BP again contributed to most of the increased value. The Aker BP value increased NOK 3.8 billion in the first half, but Aker has in addition received NOK 1.3 billion in dividends from the company in the period. So the return has been more than NOK 5 billion.

Ocean Yield increased NOK 100 million share value including received dividends of NOK 300 million. The largest drop in value for the industrial holdings came in Aker Solutions, which fell NOK 500 million in the first half. But Kvaerner was a positive story and gained NOK 128 million, and in addition, paid 67 million in dividends.

Slide 4. Aker's share price rose 42.4% in the first quarter and fell 25.4% in the second quarter leading to a 6.2% gain in the first half of the year. The return was, however, 11.1% per Aker share when including dividend paid in May. Aker's gross asset value as per June 30 was NOK 56.8 billion where the industrial holdings portfolio represented 87% of this. When deducting liabilities of NOK 12 billion, the value adjusted equity ratio stood at 79%.

Slide 5. The Industrial Holdings portfolio currently consists of 8 assets, 5 listed and 3 nonlisted companies. Aker Energy and Cognite were included in Aker's Industrial Holdings in the first half of 2019. Both companies are considered value triggers in our portfolio.

In the second quarter, Aker BioMarine's CEO acquired 2% of the shares in Aker BioMarine from Aker, taking Aker's ownership to 98% of the company. As per June 30, E&P accounted for 64% of our gross values; oil services to the 10%; maritime assets, 11%; and seafood and marine biotech, 6%.

Slide 6. Aker's liquidity reserves stood at NOK 6.1 billion at the end of the second quarter, of which cash amounted to NOK 3.4 billion. Aker's dividend income was NOK 1.7 billion in the first half, and we remain on track to reach in excess of NOK 3 billion in upstream cash this year, which will represent a new milestone for Aker.

Moving on to Slide 7 and more details in our Industrial Holdings portfolio starting with Aker BP. Aker BP made up 62% of our gross asset value as per June 30. In the second quarter, Aker BP produced 127,300 barrels per day, 20% down from the prior quarter as output was negatively affected by planned field maintenance. Aker BP also reported an EBITDAX of USD 583 million compared with $629 million in the first quarter. And Aker BP paid a quarterly dividend, of which Aker received NOK 653 million.

Subsequent to the end of the second quarter, Aker BP made a large new oil discovery in the NOAKA area named Liatårnet. The preliminary estimates suggest 80 to 200 million barrels of recoverable reserves. Aker BPs ownership in Liatårnet is 90%, making this a high impact discovery for Aker BP.

Liatårnet can increase the company's resource base significantly and lay a solid foundation for further production growth in Aker BP. In order to develop and produce the estimated 700 million barrels of recoverable resources in NOAKA, the deadlock with Oceanwood has to be resolved. With responsible leadership on both sides, I'm confident that a compromise will ultimately be achieved. The dialogue with Oceanwood is ongoing, but it's premature to say how and when a solution will be completed.

As an active owner, we are reminded to just keep a steady course focused on our long-term objectives and spend time on our true value chain drivers.

Our ownership agenda in Aker BP remains focused on lowering breakeven costs and reducing the production costs. A large contributor to achieve these targets will be the implementation of digitalization where one of our portfolio companies, Cognite, plays an important role.

Slide 8. In the second quarter, Aker Energy submitted an updated PDO application to Ghanaian authorities. Approval of the PDO and a subsequent Final Investment Decision is targeted in the second half of 2019. The company has announced the results of its appraisal drilling campaign. In addition to the original and discovery of 334 million barrels in the Pecan area, it's estimated that the Pecan South well holds between 5 and 15 million barrels while the Pecan South East well is most likely not commercial. Continuing to prove up additional volume in the area is still a priority for Aker Energy. In the quarter, Aker Energy acted as service provided to AGM in drilling the South Deepwater Tano block and will continue to assist in the future appraisal and exploration activities.

TRG has, over the last 5 years, invested around NOK 1.5 billion in AGM. We are, therefore, pleased to announce that oil has been discovered also in the AGM block. When it comes to volume ranges, AGM will communicate this at a later stage. The drilling results, including quantification of volume, is subject to further analysis. Aker considers the conservation of ownership across the 2 blocks as a natural future step.

Subsequent to quarter end, Aker Energy enter into an agreement with Africa Finance Corporation, AFC, to issue a USD 100 million convertible subordinated bond. AFC has also received equity awards with the right to subscribe shares in Aker Energy in future equity offerings.

Moving on to Slide 9. In the second quarter, Aker Solutions reported NOK 623 million in EBITDA and the order intake of NOK 3.8 billion. As per the end of the quarter, the backlog stood at NOK 29.5 billion. The market is showing signs of improvement for Aker Solutions, and operational performance remains strong. This positions the company to take a fair share of new contract awards. Aker Solutions is expecting significantly increased order intake in the second half of the year, but at weaker margins.

Ole Martin Grimsrud has been appointed CFO of Aker Solutions and will replace Svein Oskar Stoknes effective August 1, 2019.

Slide 10. In order to strengthen its onshore aftermarket services and presence in North America, MHWirth acquired in the second quarter Bronco Manufacturing, a company that manufactures parts to the global drilling industry as well as delivers engineering and procurement services. The acquisition is a step in Akastor's strategy for MHWirth, which includes expanding the company both organically and through acquisitions. Operationally, MHWirth has seen a positive trend in aftermarket revenues during the last quarters. And in April, MHWirth secured a contract for a full drilling package to Keppel FELS for new harsh environment semisubmersible rig to be built for our whirlpool building. Akastor continues to work closely with its portfolio companies to support cost-saving programs, operational improvements and strategic initiatives to further enhance their competitiveness. Aker encourages Akastor to continue to play an active role in M&A to secure value-enhancing transactions and selectively pursue investment opportunities that strengthening its existing portfolio.

Slide 11. In the second quarter, Kvaerner delivered revenues of NOK 1.9 billion and EBITDA of NOK 132 million. The company continues since strong operational performance as evidenced by the delivery of the Valhall Flank West platform to -- for Aker BP. The topside was ready to transport to the field only 14 months after cutting the first steel plates. The order backlog ended at NOK 9 billion, including the award of the dismantling and recycling of the Statfjord A and FEED study for the Jackdaw UWP. Kvaerner remains committed on the increasing efficiency to strengthen competitiveness in order to secure new work beyond the current backlog. Flexibility to assess strategic alternatives is secured with NOK 2.7 billion in cash in addition to undrawn credit facilities of NOK 2 billion.

Moving on to Slide 12. Ocean Yield reported an EBITDA of USD 57 million in the second quarter. The backlog ended at 3.3 billion with an average contract duration of 10.9 years. In the second quarter, Ocean Yield extended its agreement with Aker Energy to 1st September 2019, where Aker Energy has an option to bareboat charter the FPSO Dhirubhai-1 for a period of 15 years. The company is also in parallel pursuing other employment opportunities for the FPSO.

In the quarter, the company acquired 3 dry bulk vessels for a total consideration of USD 82 million net of seller's credit. All vessels are chartered on long-term contracts. Ocean Yield also took delivery of the first 2 and VLCC new buildings in a series of 4 vessels with a 15-year bareboat charter to Okeanis Eco Tankers.

The company declared $0.191 per share in dividends in the quarter, unchanged from the prior quarter. If no satisfactory long-term employment for the FPSO can be firmed up within the end of the first quarter 2020, Ocean Yield has announced that the company will consider an adjustment of the dividend level to $0.15 per share.

Slide 13. In the second quarter, Aker BioMarine's revenue ended at $67 million with an EBITDA of $17 million corresponding to a margin of 25%. The second quarter revenues are positively affected by increased downstream activities mainly as a result of the acquisition of Lang Pharma Nutrition earlier this year. Year-to-date, the company reports record high harvesting and production volumes. The company expects growth in the demand for its products driven by expansion into the Asian markets.

Finally, on Slide 14, some comments on Cognite, the fastest-growing company in our portfolio industrial investments. In the second quarter, Cognite reported NOK 71 million in revenues compared to NOK 26 million in the same period last year supported by a growing customer base. Customer projects are progressing, and the company has a solid pipeline of potential new customers.

In the second quarter, the company signed a multiyear agreement with OMV to support OMV's digital transformations. This contract is a major milestone for the company as it allows for the expansion, both geographically and into the onshore domain. Cognite's organization continues to grow and expanded by another 34 employees during the second quarter. The company now has 227 employees compared with 98 employees a year ago. One of the key expansions are taking place in North America where Cognite during the summer 2019 will open a new office in Austin, Texas.

That marks the end of my presentation today. But before I leave the word to our CFO, Frank Reite, I would like to thank him for his significant contribution for Aker ASA. Frank has been Aker's CFO for the past 4 years, and today, holds his last quarterly presentation for the company as he will be stepping down for calmer days due to health reasons.

Please take our audience through Aker's financial accounts, Frank.

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Frank Ove Reite, Aker ASA - CFO [3]

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Thank you, Øyvind, and good morning, everyone. I will spend some minutes on Aker's financial investments before I go through the second quarter accounts.

Let's start with Slide #16. The financial portfolio accounted for 13% of Aker's total assets or NOK 7.1 billion. This is up NOK 0.6 billion from the previous quarter mainly explained by increased borrowings and cash dividends received from Aker BP and Ocean Yield, partly offset by dividend paid. The main components under financial investments are cash, listed investments, real estate investments and interest-bearing receivables.

Let's look into the details of the financial investment portfolio starting with cash on Slide #70. Our cash holdings represents 6% of Aker's gross asset value or NOK 3.4 billion. This is up NOK 0.3 billion from previous quarter. The main cash inflows: We had a $1.7 billion drawn on credit facilities; an NOK $898 million in dividends from mainly Aker BP and Ocean Yield.

The main cash outflow in the quarter was the $1.7 billion paid as dividend to our shareholders. In addition, our receivables against portfolio companies increased by NOK 253 million, mainly towards Aker BioMarine. And we increased our investments in Aker Energy by NOK 138 million. Payments in the quarter for operating expenses and net interest were NOK 152 million. Other cash movements mainly includes NOK 100 million prepayment for the new airplane. Our liquidity reserve at the end of the second quarter was NOK 6.1 billion, including undrawn credit facilities of NOK 2.6 billion.

Turning to Page 18. Listed investments included in our financial portfolio represent 1% of Aker's total assets or NOK 770 million. The net value increase in the quarter was $21 million, mainly explained by the value increase of American shipping company of NOK 37 million, partly offset by a NOK 12 million value reduction of Philadelphia Shipyard. The total exposure towards AMSC also includes 2 TRS agreements with a value increase of $62 million in the quarter presented as part of other financial investments. We posted a dividend income from American Shipping Company of NOK 21 million in the quarter.

Next, on Page 19, real estate and other financial investments. Combined, the 2 represent 5% of Aker's gross asset value or NOK 2.9 billion. The NOK 350 million increase in the quarter is mainly explained by NOK 220 million in increased funding through Aker BioMarine and NOK 100 million in prepayment for the new airplane.

I will now go through the second quarter financial highlights for Aker ASA and holding companies. The consolidated group accounts are included in the half year report. However, I will not comment on those figures.

Let me start with the balance sheet on Page 21. The book value of our investments was down with NOK 99 million in the quarter, mainly explained by the value reduction on our direct investments in Aker Solution and Akastor. This was partly offset by increased investments in Aker Energy.

Total book value of our assets was NOK 25.9 billion. And in our accounts, we use the lowest of historic cost and market values. Share prices for our investments continued to be volatile, and this quarter, we face the NOK 10.3 billion decrease of our fair value adjustment bringing it down to NOK 30.9 billion. This is, however, NOK 3.4 billion higher than at the year-end 2018. The gross asset value stood at NOK 56.8 billion at the end of the quarter.

Aker's liability mainly consists of bond debt of NOK 6.1 billion U.S.-denominated bank loans of NOK 4.7 billion and a NOK 969 million euro-denominated loan. The book equity was NOK 13.9 billion, up NOK 569 million from the first quarter explained by the net profit before tax for the second quarter. If we adjust for fair value on our listed assets, we get our net asset value of NOK 44.8 billion at the end of the second quarter, down NOK 9.8 billion from the first quarter. The net asset value per share was NOK 603 and the value adjusted equity ratio was 79%.

Let's then continue on to Page 22. Our total interest-bearing debt stood at NOK 11.7 billion, which is up by NOK 1.7 billion from the previous quarter due to a $200 million drawn on our credit facility. However, in July, we will repay the AKER12 bond at maturity with NOK 1.5 billion from our cash holdings, taking the gross interest-bearing debt down towards NOK 10 billion again.

As before, we have significant headroom with regards to our loan covenants. We had a net interest-bearing debt of NOK 7.2 billion at the end of the second quarter, up from NOK 6 billion in the previous quarter.

Then to the income statement on Slide #23. The operating expenses for the second quarter were NOK 69 million. The net value change in the quarter was negative NOK 190 million, mainly explained by write-downs of our direct investments in Aker Solution and Akastor. Net other financial items were positive NOK 831 million, mainly explained by dividend income of NOK 838 million. The profit before tax was NOK 566 million in the quarter.

And then, Torbjørn, we should open for questions.

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Torbjørn Kjus, Aker ASA - Chief Economist & Head of IR [4]

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Okay. Operator, you can open up for questions.

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Operator [5]

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(Operator Instructions).

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Torbjørn Kjus, Aker ASA - Chief Economist & Head of IR [6]

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Okay, operator, we will then cut the questions. And if there's no questions, we will then conclude our presentation for today.

We would like to thank everyone who attended, and we take the opportunity to wish you all a great summer. Thanks.