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Edited Transcript of KRX.I earnings conference call or presentation 23-Aug-19 7:30am GMT

Half Year 2019 Kingspan Group PLC Earnings Call

Kingscourt Sep 9, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Kingspan Group PLC earnings conference call or presentation Friday, August 23, 2019 at 7:30:00am GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Gene M. Murtagh

Kingspan Group plc - CEO & Executive Director

* Geoff P. Doherty

Kingspan Group plc - CFO & Executive Director

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Conference Call Participants

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* Arnaud Lehmann

BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Head of the European Construction & Building Materials and Director

* Florence O'Donoghue

Davy, Research Division - Industrials Analyst

* Gregor Kuglitsch

UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Executive Director, Head of European Building & Construction Research and Equity Research Analyst

* Robert Eason

Goodbody Stockbrokers, Research Division - Head of Research

* Tobias Weimann

Morgan Stanley, Research Division - Equity Analyst

* Yves Brian Felix Bromehead

Exane BNP Paribas, Research Division - Analyst of Building Materials

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Kingspan interim results 2019 conference call. My name is Charlotte, and I will be coordinating your call today. (Operator Instructions) I will now hand over to your host, Gene Murtagh, to begin. Gene, please go ahead.

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Gene M. Murtagh, Kingspan Group plc - CEO & Executive Director [2]

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Thank you, and good morning to our interim results call. We'll take you directly to Slide #14. I assume you've all got the deck there. It's titled 2019 H1 in Summary. And in summary, it was a decent first half for us, revenue up 12% to just over EUR 2.2 billion and trading profit ahead by EUR 230 million, which resulted in basic EPS up 16% to almost EUR 0.94. All of the businesses and most geographies performed well.

Just by product sector. Insulated Panels were up 14%, particularly strong in the Americas and in Southern Europe, weaker in Germany and predictably weaker in the U.K., which we'll cover off a little more in detail later.

The Boards businesses achieved growth of 5%. Again, strong volume growth in most markets, particularly Western Europe, Ireland, Nordics. Markets like that were particularly strong, but a lot of that volume growth was offset by significant price deflation as a result of the well-covered MDI cost reductions we've seen over the last 12 months. Again, more on that later.

Light & Air business saw significant growth of 11%. This was particularly evident in North America. You might recall we had reasonably difficult period there last year, so we've recorded a strong rebound in the first half and that's expected to continue right through the second half as well for that business unit.

Water & Energy was quite stable apart from the impact of a small acquisition we did in the Nordic region.

And the Data & Flooring business was particularly strong with 17%, again largely around the data offering sustained from the office offering.

But that's it in summary. Very strong first half and will hand you over to Geoff now before we get into the business units.

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Geoff P. Doherty, Kingspan Group plc - CFO & Executive Director [3]

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Thanks, Gene. Now I'm on Page 15, the Financial Highlights slide. Group revenue a little over EUR 2.2 billion, up 12% in the half year. Trading profit of EUR 230.4 million, up 18%, EPS up 16% to EUR0.938. Our interim dividend of EUR 0.13 is up 8% versus last year's interim. A decent free cash flow performance in the period, EUR 80.6 million, more than double the free cash in the first half of 2018, and I'll deal with the component parts of that shortly.

Net debt, broadly in line with the same point midyear last year at EUR 734 million, notwithstanding the fact that we had a number of acquisitions year-on-year since the midpoint of last year.

Trading margin, 10.3%, up 60 basis points, and we'll talk about the divisional split of that in a second.

Net debt-to-EBITDA, 1.31x. And an important metric, return on capital employed, 17.1%, up 150 basis points from midyear last year.

Then turning to Slide 16. Just to look at the trading profit over the last 5 financial -- or 5 half year periods, you'll see that the first half of 2019 at EUR 230 million was more than double the left-hand side of that page, 2015 first half. So compounded profit growth of approximately 20% since the first half of 2015.

I mentioned at the outset a decent margin performance in the period. And just to look at the divisional spree of that, Insulated Panels broadly in line with last year's full year, so 10.1%. Insulation Boards, exceptionally strong margin in the period at 13.4% as compared to 12.2% full year last year. That margin will soften through the second half of the year.

Light & Air is very much a second half-weighted business, but on track there, 4.3% trading margin, a nudge ahead of the first half of last year.

Water & Energy, again, is second half-weighted, a trading margin of 5.7%, in line with the first half of last year.

Data & Flooring, good first half margin performance, driven by data center solutions in particular.

So the lot of that combined to a 60 basis point improvement in the trading margin relative to the first half of last year.

Page 17, bridges, sales and profit, half year '18 to half year '19. And just to look at the component parts of it. Profit, the first instance, so you'll see currency added about 1% to sales growth in the period. Acquisitions contributed EUR 155 million or 8% to the overall sales growth in the period. Underlying sales were ahead by 3%, all combining to 12% revenue growth in the period.

From a profit perspective, overall trading profit was up 18% and the constituents of that were currency added just over EUR 2.5 million or 1%, acquisitions contributed EUR 15.9 million or 8% and underlying profitability was up 9% or EUR 16.5 million.

Free cash flow is set out on Page 18. The biggest driver naturally of free cash flow was the EBITDA performance of EUR 271 million. We -- from a working capital perspective, the first half of the year, working capital increased, but the increase -- or the outflow was lower at first half '19 versus first half '18. So the working capital-to-sales ratio improved by 60 basis points, just a little over 13% working capital to sales in the first half of 2019.

Other significant cash flow items. Cash tax was EUR 45.6 million, reflecting the balance of tax owed from last year and some preliminary tax for 2019, which we're leaving out over the course of the year. And net capital expenditure of EUR 68.5 million, all generating a net free cash flow of EUR 80.6 million.

Page 19 reconciles the debt position to that at the beginning of the financial year. So debt at the end of last year was EUR 728 million. Free cash flow reduced debt by EUR 80.6 million. We paid out a dividend of EUR 54 million and then settled the deferred consideration in respect of East -- or Western Brazil of EUR 29.7 million. So all leading to a net debt position of EUR 734 million at the end of June.

Page 20 sets out our return on capital employed. Good performance in the period. It's nudged up over 17%, so 17.1% in the first half of 2019, and that's a trailing 12-month measure and that compares to full year 2018 of 16.8%. So progression there.

The strength of our balance sheet is set out on Page 21. So the total of our available cash balances and committed undrawn facilities is EUR 888 million. The principal components of that would be we have a 5-year EUR 450 million revolving credit facility, which there was a modest amount of drawings on that at the end of the period. And we've got an additional EUR 300 million revolving credit facility, which we arranged in June, which was undrawn at period end. And the weighted average maturity of our debt facilities is 4.8 years. So a strong balance sheet across those headings.

Our sales by geography is set out on Page 22. And just looking at the key territories, you'll see Mainland Europe represented 49% of group sales first half of '19 compared to 47% first half '18 and the U.K. 20% in '19 versus 23% in the first half of '18. No other significant changes in the proportions of turnover.

And then in the table below, you'll see the key territories and I think the other item I'd highlight on that is just that sales in Ireland are very strong in the period, up 22% in the first half of last year.

So with that financial summary, I'll hand back to Gene.

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Gene M. Murtagh, Kingspan Group plc - CEO & Executive Director [4]

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Okay. Thank you very much, Geoff. And we don't propose going through all the individual divisional slides, but there is copious detail there, which no doubt you've already read through.

So we'd like to take you straight to Slide 29, which is titled Outlook. Our order intake for the second quarter was quite encouraging across most of our markets and that's left us with, I'd say, healthy order books in most regions, particularly Southern Europe, both France and Spain; the Americas, across all markets, Canada, the U.S., and indeed, Brazil, have entered the second half of the year in a very strong position from an order book point of view. There are a couple of exceptions, which won't really surprise anybody. The U.K. has got consistently weaker, in particular, the last 2 to 3 months, which is not surprising given that the -- we're kind of reaching the 31st of October date. There's increasing level of nervousness, confidence is lower, and as a result, regular business in that market is weakening as we speak. That said, there are a couple of strong sectors for us, which are largely around data and online retail, which have been strong for us for the last couple of years. They're Brexit-agnostic, as we call that, and they remain healthy for us for the foreseeable future in the U.K. But that all said, we would expect a lower sales performance in the U.K. for the second half than we achieved this time last year.

The same can be said for Germany, and indeed, for different reasons. It's obviously been weak on the automotive side for some time and that's eventually spread across most other segments. So again, I'd say for the last 2 to 3 months, we've seen it consistently get weaker and we would expect second half to be reasonably challenging in Germany.

The combination of all those markets is just under 30% for us. So in essence, that's the weak side of the business at the present time. But all in all, we would expect to deliver a fairly solid performance in the second half, bearing in mind that it's up against a very tough comparator from last year, which was an exceptionally strong period for us.

That covers the formal part of our presentation, and we're now open to all kinds of questions.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) We have our first question from Robert Eason from Goodbody.

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Robert Eason, Goodbody Stockbrokers, Research Division - Head of Research [2]

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Just a few questions from me as usual. Just in terms of the order book, you've given us a very clear picture of the plus and the minuses. When you just kind of aggregate them all together, is the order book -- or order intake at group level flattish when you consider the different moving parts? That's kind of a straight question.

Just in relation to U.K., you talked about lower sales performance in the second half. Your volumes are only slightly down in the Panels in the first half. Can you just kind of frame the second half in a bit more detail, like what degree of decline should we be thinking about at this stage given what you've seen in your order book?

Kind of my second kind of area of question is just around the firepower that you have for M&A. You've outlined that you've got a further facility in place. Just what you're thinking around the extent of firepower that you have, the M&A pipeline, how are discussions going, multiples and all that stuff around that?

And my final area of question is -- sorry about this, is just how should we think about price/cost spread in the second half? Clearly, it was -- when you just look at the net of them, it was a bit of a tailwind in the first half.

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Gene M. Murtagh, Kingspan Group plc - CEO & Executive Director [3]

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Is that it, Robert?

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Robert Eason, Goodbody Stockbrokers, Research Division - Head of Research [4]

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Yes. I can give you more if you want?

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Gene M. Murtagh, Kingspan Group plc - CEO & Executive Director [5]

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Okay. Order intake at the group level -- or the order books would be up kind of upper end 3% worldwide, obviously taking in the pluses and minuses. And that's Panels incidentally we're talking about here.

The order book for Insulation Boards is very short, different lead times entirely, which as you know, is about 3 months or so per panel and that's the situation at a group level.

In the U.K. for the second half, we'd expect high single digits year-on-year reduction in both Panels and Boards. So that's obviously quite material, but we've -- for a couple of reasons, there's obviously pressure on the end market, but in particular, in Insulation Boards, we've taken a very strong stance in terms of our pricing and we've given up some market share in recent months that's going to take us a bit of time to recover. So that's self-inflicted, if you like. But all in all, the market is weak and is weakening further.

In terms of our overall firepower, we'd say comfortably about EUR 600 million. We didn't really transact at all bar one very small acquisition in the first half. The pipeline is as healthy as ever. We're pursuing a good number of opportunities and hopefully we'll make progress on some of those during the second half.

In terms of price/cost dynamics, it is -- prices are likely to be flat at best, I'd say, in the second half. Steel is a little unpredictable. It might weaken further. Of course, MDI, which we've talked about the last couple of years might harden slightly. We don't anticipate anything dramatic. It reached its bottom probably 6 months ago. It's crept, not much, but it's crept over the last 6 months and we'd expect that creep to continue. So yes, the price/cost dynamics should be relatively stable, maybe a little negative.

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Operator [6]

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Our next question comes from Yves Bromehead from Exane BNP Paribas.

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Yves Brian Felix Bromehead, Exane BNP Paribas, Research Division - Analyst of Building Materials [7]

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I have three. My first one is on the leading indicators. When we look at industry sentiments across your many regions, U.K. and Europe as well as PMIs, they started to weaken quite considerably and some of your competitors including today have also witnessed a slowdown in Eastern Europe as well as Germany. Is there anything a bit more structural going on in parts of Eastern Europe, but also in Continental Europe? And I understand that France is strong, but are you seeing anything which suggests that there could be a sequential slowdown?

My second one is just as a follow-up actually. Could you remind us what is the raw material bill between steel and chemicals?

And my last question is on your Net Zero Energy commitments and your Circularity targets into 2025 and 2030. How should we think about gross margin as you use more recyclable materials into your production process?

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Gene M. Murtagh, Kingspan Group plc - CEO & Executive Director [8]

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Okay. Thanks for that. Yes. In terms of lead indicators, look, we're as cognizant as any of our peers about what's going on out there. What's -- as we said, what's clearly obvious to us at present is the Germany and the U.K. In Central Europe, I guess, the particular outfit you're talking about probably is a much bigger presence there than we have. But on balance, I'd say our business there is reasonably stable. Reasonably stable, like our big markets are Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary, and by and large, I'd say they're -- there's nothing staggeringly brilliant going on in those markets. But for now, we wouldn't be highlighting any significant drop in those markets.

France, as you highlight, has been strong and we would see that continuing for a couple of reasons. There's a clear conversion over to insulated panels from traditional built-up systems that we expect to continue. We've invested in a facility in Southern France in [Profinord] and we're looking at a further facility in Central France to facilitate that further conversion. And in Southern Europe, you've obviously got recovery in Spain and Portugal as well as an increasing shift towards our type of solutions and that looks reasonably sustainable, at least through the second half of this year. Beyond that, it's very hard for us to have any kind of material gauge.

In terms NZE and Circularity, you will have noticed we've embarked on, I'd say, a challenging set of goals we've set for ourselves for the next 10 years covering an awful lot more than the Net Zero targets we had previously. We obviously believe in those initiatives and we believe they'll bring advantage to the business as well as it being the right thing to do.

From a cost perspective, we wouldn't anticipate any material difference in our bonds as a result of moving towards recycled material. But presently, it's competitive. We'll be using an increasing amount of recycled PET. A lot of that would be in-house generated and we're also looking at the supply chain there in terms of us taking probably a more significant position in capturing that supply chain. But no, from a bonds perspective, it'll be broadly similar with virgin material.

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Geoff P. Doherty, Kingspan Group plc - CFO & Executive Director [9]

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Yes. Just on the steel and chemical bill, Yves, we're not going to be drawn specifically on that. I mean that's been evolving over the last 12 or 18 months. It plays naturally into our selling prices, so you'll have the shape of it from previous conversations, but not going to go into any particular detail on those.

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Operator [10]

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Our next question comes from Gregor Kuglitsch from UBS.

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Gregor Kuglitsch, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Executive Director, Head of European Building & Construction Research and Equity Research Analyst [11]

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A couple of questions, actually maybe three. So just think back to the sort of price and commodity side of things. So it looks sort of at the first half, if you could sort of summarize for us what the deflationary effect was, maybe at the group level, I don't know, against the 3% organic growth? And I think you were, in answer to the previous question, if I'm not mistaken with, I think -- I don't know if you were talking about commodity pricing or selling prices, but you were suggesting a flattening of that? Is that the right way to think about sort of from a top line perspective?

The second question is are you seeing any competitive changes on the pricing side? I think, again, one of your peers today obviously I know that the product is different, but was pointing out to some pricing pressure in some markets, it may not be that relevant for you, but checking.

And then on the M&A side of things, so you've been a bit quiet for a while. I think some of the areas, particularly things like waterproofing or roofing membrane, which I think you've called out in the past, just wanted to get an update where we are there and that strategy to expand into sort of these new product categories or whether you've just simply not seen the opportunities.

And then, finally, one quick one. If we could just have an update on the CapEx profile for maybe this year and next, that would be helpful.

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Gene M. Murtagh, Kingspan Group plc - CEO & Executive Director [12]

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Okay. I'll deal with a couple of those. Just first off, in terms of the competitive environment, we've -- our materials as a result of the deflationary impact have obviously become more competitive over the last 12 months. And the impact of that has been significant regaining of share from traditional materials that obviously benefited from our cost woes a couple of years ago. So that's been evident largely across Western Europe and -- Western Europe, U.K. and Ireland and it continues for Insulated Panels and in Boards in Continental Europe. As I said earlier, we've -- company specific, we've taken a position in the U.K. on Boards in recent months, which might -- well, which, sorry, will affect the volume profile in the second half, but that -- we'll adjust that accordingly depending on how things evolve over the second half.

From the wider strategy point of view, yes, waterproofing and industrial insulation are probably the 2 key areas that we highlighted as being of interest to us longer term. That remains exactly as it was, Gregor. So we clearly haven't been able to transact at any material level in those 2 segments, but they're both still very much central to what we want to achieve longer term. We've -- in both of those segments, incidentally, we've been growing significantly organically. So the Topdek and X-Dek product ranges, which are membrane roofing insulated panels, have been growing encouragingly in -- mainly in the European markets. We just recently launched a 1-deck product in North America, which is also to address that segment, so to have insulated panels solutions available there to compete with built-up systems. Anyway, it remains very front and center.

Now from an industrial insulation point of view, our Duct & Pipe insulation businesses, which are largely comprising of Kooltherm technology, again have been advancing significantly across a lot of markets we're present with worldwide. So we're working with an organic level and whatever anything significant and strategic presents itself, we would be hopefully ready to pounce.

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Geoff P. Doherty, Kingspan Group plc - CFO & Executive Director [13]

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Just to pick up on two other of your questions, Gregor, the value/volume split, just to look at that for the 2 larger divisions, in Insulated Panels, underlying sales growth was up 3% in the first half. Directionally, the split of that was volume up about 6%, price minus 3%. In Insulation Boards, underlying sales were flat in the first half. And again, directionally, pricing down high single digit, volume up high single digit. Net neutral.

So underlying sales growth of plus 3, and that underlying sales growth has moderated slightly in the month since the half year end for the reasons Gene outlined earlier in terms of a couple of markets.

The second question then as regards to CapEx, the outlook for this year is approximately EUR 140 million and a similar number for next year.

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Operator [14]

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Our next question comes from Tobias Weimann from Morgan Stanley.

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Tobias Weimann, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - Equity Analyst [15]

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Three from my side as well, if I may. Firstly, a follow-up on the pricing. You just kindly gave us a split and I think in Boards you said it was high single digit for the first half. I think in Q1 we were down about 4%, so I think the pace of price cuts has accelerated a bit. How can we think about this for the second half if you reach the bottom here? Could pricing become actually more favorable? Or should we expect more price cuts from here? So that's the first one.

The second one, you have been, I think, talking for a while now on your fiber-free A Core product and I think actually the market potential there is quite significant. So could you give us a little bit more insight here how significant the opportunity is and maybe also where we stand in the development process.

And then just a final one in terms of volume. Clearly, H1 volume growth was quite strong and you mentioned just earlier that you have taken a lot of market share from traditional insulation peers. But thinking about H2, I would say if the price of additional price cuts is slowing, can we expect the level of market share gains to continue from here? Or should we expect volume growth to be more in line with sort of general construction spending growth?

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Gene M. Murtagh, Kingspan Group plc - CEO & Executive Director [16]

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Okay, Tobias. So just then dealing with your first question, we'd expect pricing in the second half to be broadly flat. So no particular moves upward or downward.

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Tobias Weimann, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - Equity Analyst [17]

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That is on a group level, correct?

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Gene M. Murtagh, Kingspan Group plc - CEO & Executive Director [18]

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That's correct. And I know you specifically asked about Boards and that's likely to be the case for Boards also. In terms of the A Core solution, the development is ongoing there. We expect to launch a product during 2020, probably late 2020, and that will be version 1. There are a number of technologies that we're advancing and it's likely that we will launch probably a niche application product in 2020, which will be geared around high-rise residential U.K. But -- and just in the very same way as Kooltherm was embryonic 20-odd years ago, we will see this product moving from niche to more mainstream over the next 5 to 10 years. It's not something that's going to have a dramatic impact on the group in the next year or 2. So yes, I'd say version 1 will give way to other versions down the line and we've got sights on what those technologies are going to be.

In terms of market share, I'd say we're pretty much down in terms of movement one way or the other. So given the fact that our pricing is expected to be relatively consistent as an industry, not just as Kingspan, we wouldn't expect a material shift either way in the second half versus other forms of material.

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Tobias Weimann, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - Equity Analyst [19]

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That's very helpful. Just a very quick follow-up to clarification on the pricing. If you say flat for Boards, are we talking H1 versus H2 or year-on-year for H2?

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Geoff P. Doherty, Kingspan Group plc - CFO & Executive Director [20]

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We're talking H1 versus H2.

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Tobias Weimann, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - Equity Analyst [21]

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Okay. And year-on-year, I guess -- okay, the comparison is a bit different for the second half, right?

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Geoff P. Doherty, Kingspan Group plc - CFO & Executive Director [22]

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Yes. It will be down clearly Q3 '19 versus Q3 '18.

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Operator [23]

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Our next question comes from our Arnaud Lehmann from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

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Arnaud Lehmann, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Head of the European Construction & Building Materials and Director [24]

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I have 3 questions, if I may. Just coming back on the Insulation Boards, very strong margin in the first half. I think your historical high. Can you give us an outlook on H2? I mean because you said you're focusing on pricing over volumes, and clearly, that seems to be working, so why would you change this strategy if it enabled you to deliver better margins? That's my first question.

And then maybe a couple of follow-ups. Firstly, on the U.K., are you doing any specific kind of no-deal Brexit preparation? I appreciate Brexit has been coming for a number of years now, but considering it's potentially heating up in the coming months, have you adjusted anything in your U.K. business to make sure it was ready? Are you moving products around from Continental Europe or from mainland into or outside of the U.K.? Could there be any friction if there are more checks at the borders?

And lastly, on Ireland, very strong first half, quite impressive growth there. Could you explain what was the driver? And also would you expect some sort of Brexit-related slowdown in the Irish economy going forward?

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Gene M. Murtagh, Kingspan Group plc - CEO & Executive Director [25]

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Okay, Arnaud. Thank you for that. In terms of the Board margin, we'd expect it to be reasonably consistent with first half than the second half, if not maybe slightly down. That's kind of the position there. But we would see that unwinding through the second half, I'd say, and particularly into early next year. So no major change in the second half versus first half on that side.

From a Brexit standpoint, honestly, it remains as uncertain to us as it did a couple of years ago. We clearly have run the rule over a number of different scenarios, but we haven't as yet taken any firm action because the date has slipped and it's slipped again and it might even slip again. So the way we're viewing this is that we've an awful lot of flexibility within the business between where we would shift production, in particular, either from or indeed to the U.K. depending on what way things fall. But we see it as an evolving process rather than an event that's going to change from one day to the next. So we'd be working on the base businesses and consumers in general are going to be afforded time to adjust to this whenever the outcome is.

So in summary, no, we haven't taken any firm action. We just keep an eye on how things evolve. And potentially, if things go haywire in the U.K. completely, exchange-wise and everything, it becomes a very attractive export base for Kingspan. But our primary concern is not necessarily flows in and out because the U.K. is pretty self-sufficient. So from an asset base perspective, it largely matches demand. It's reliant on some raw materials coming in, but not all. So our primary concern is as what happens, the activity level on the island of Britain rather than the flows east or west.

Ireland, as you point out, has been exceptionally strong with sales up 22% and that's all organic. It's really a reflection of the general construction environment here. And even though that's very strong, house construction is still remarkably constrained even in the context of that. So it's really a reflection of recovering activity levels, but it's still miles away from the concerning levels that it was at 10 or 12 years ago. Could Ireland be affected by Brexit? Clearly. Clearly, it could. But potentially, there's also some advantage depending on what the people movements are thereafter. So very hard to call all that.

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Arnaud Lehmann, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Head of the European Construction & Building Materials and Director [26]

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But you haven't seen any short-term slowdown in Ireland like you saw in the U.K.?

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Gene M. Murtagh, Kingspan Group plc - CEO & Executive Director [27]

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No.

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Geoff P. Doherty, Kingspan Group plc - CFO & Executive Director [28]

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No.

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Operator [29]

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Our next question comes from Flor O'Donoghue from Davy.

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Florence O'Donoghue, Davy, Research Division - Industrials Analyst [30]

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Just a couple from me. Firstly, just on North America, an update, a bit more color maybe on how that's doing. Obviously, language in statement is quite positive, so a bit more around that would be helpful.

And maybe just then to extend that out to Brazil and the Americas in general and what you're seeing there.

And then the second thing, just ask for Geoff, I guess, it's more technical. Just wondering have you any commentary on full year guidance around tax and interest, if you could.

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Gene M. Murtagh, Kingspan Group plc - CEO & Executive Director [31]

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Okay, Flor. In terms of on North America, yes, we've had a very strong first half, the order book is healthy and our project pipeline is very healthy into the second half. So we wouldn't see any upset in that pattern for the foreseeable future. The segments that have been kind of standouts for us are automotive, online retail and data as an end market. Obviously, automotive stands out there in the sense that it's totally at odds with what's happening in Europe and for different reasons. So what we're seeing in North America there is -- and it's very material for us, is that the preparation for shift towards electric vehicles means that the infrastructure has to be significantly overhauled and actually just recreated in many instances. So you've got battery plants, new assembly plants, et cetera, for a good number of brands that are underway and also in the pipe. So that segment for us we'd see as being strong for -- well ahead into the future.

Online and data, I think, is quite obvious and it's reasonably consistent with everywhere else. But I think layered across all of this is that the North American market has lagged Europe significantly in terms of insulation and energy standard, and we see that continuing to move in the right direction. So that, if you like, creates an underbelly of demand and future growth for us in the North American markets.

Activity overall is not particularly exciting if you look at low-rise nonresidential and we're obviously cognizant of what today the forecasts are saying about the sector. But yes, we'd be reasonably optimistic about that market for the foreseeable future.

The Brazil market is something entirely different. It's so far not really about energy. It's about food production, it's about basic industrial buildings and trying to use more modern material. It's about trying to build more quickly, which is something that the insulated panel favors. So what we're experiencing there is a shift in conversion from traditional built-up systems and even asbestos, believe it or not, which is still a very prevalent source of roofing in Brazil. So we're seeing a conversion from those type of systems across the panel and that's all in the face of what is still a relatively weak economy. So we'd be encouraged by what we're experiencing there. We've just commissioned a new facility in the São Paulo region. We're about to kick off with another greenfield facility, which will be in the south of the country and that's all around supporting continued organic growth in general South American region. And then on...

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Geoff P. Doherty, Kingspan Group plc - CFO & Executive Director [32]

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Okay. Flor, just on the 2 questions on the financials. And the full year expected tax rate is approximately 17%, that compares to 17.1% in the first half. And our interest guidance for the full year is EUR 21 million.

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Florence O'Donoghue, Davy, Research Division - Industrials Analyst [33]

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Great. If I could just come back on a couple of things there, sorry, I had a couple questions on. One is just on the CapEx in the U.S. specifically. How much will that ultimately add to your kind of sales potential base, to your capacity base that's currently there?

And just secondly, just wondering, QuadCore, is it running on target in terms of its level of panel sales or the number in H1, is it a little bit light to what might have been expected?

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Gene M. Murtagh, Kingspan Group plc - CEO & Executive Director [34]

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We'd always like it to be higher, Flor, but no, I wouldn't highlight that as a concern at all. Like a lot of our issues related to QuadCore is actually just enabling facilities. It just logistically takes time to have this technology available from all facilities and that has ramped a lot actually even in recent -- in the last half. So with that type of start, of 8% of worldwide sales and that's with practically 0 in the Americas. In fact, really 0 in the Americas. So that's really just kicking off in earnest in the second half. And some of the segments I just outlined a while ago will be heavily QuadCore-oriented. So that 8% we'd expect to ramp more in the second half and jump, I'd say, materially during 2020. So whilst we'd like it to be higher now, it hasn't. But no, I'd say we're largely still on track. And as I say, we expect a significant shift through 2020.

And then your second one, the addition of CapEx in the U.S. Yes, so we're just finishing off a facility in Modesto and we're about to start on one in the Northeast under the AWIP brand. And the combination of those will add about $100 million of capacity.

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Operator [35]

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(Operator Instructions) We currently have no further questions. I will hand back to you.

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Gene M. Murtagh, Kingspan Group plc - CEO & Executive Director [36]

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That's great. Thank you all very much for joining the call, and we'll be available to speak to you over the week next week if that's required. Thank you.

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Geoff P. Doherty, Kingspan Group plc - CFO & Executive Director [37]

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Thank you.

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Operator [38]

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Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes today's call. Thank you for joining. You may now disconnect your lines. Have a lovely day.