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Edited Transcript of LNR.TO earnings conference call or presentation 13-May-20 9:00pm GMT

Q1 2020 Linamar Corp Earnings Call

GUELPH Jun 23, 2020 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Linamar Corp earnings conference call or presentation Wednesday, May 13, 2020 at 9:00:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Dale Schneider

Linamar Corporation - CFO

* Linda S. Hasenfratz

Linamar Corporation - CEO & Non-Independent Director

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Conference Call Participants

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* Brian Morrison

TD Securities Equity Research - Research Analyst

* Kevin Chiang

CIBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Executive Director of Institutional Equity Research & Analyst

* Mark Neville

Scotiabank Global Banking and Markets, Research Division - Analyst

* Peter Sklar

BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - Analyst

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to the Linamar Corporation first quarter earnings call. (Operator Instructions) Please be advised that today's conference is being recorded. (Operator Instructions)

I would now like to hand the conference over to your speaker today, Linamar's CEO, Linda Hasenfratz. Thank you. Please go ahead.

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Linda S. Hasenfratz, Linamar Corporation - CEO & Non-Independent Director [2]

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Thanks very much. Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to our first quarter conference call. Joining me this afternoon are members of my executive team, Jim Gerald, Dale Schneider, Roger Fulton, Mark Stoddart as well as members of our corporate IR, marketing, finance and legal team. Before I begin, I will draw your attention to the disclaimer currently being broadcast. I'll start off with an overview on Linamar's approach to the COVID-19 crisis that currently is top of mind, of course, for all of us.

At Linamar, we approached dealing with this pandemic as we would any crisis. Step 1, assemble a team with all the right resources to drive decision-making. We established our COVID-19 task force in early March. Next step, gather data. We're constantly gathering the latest in data globally, both broadly around the pandemic and more specifically, for Linamar in terms of our own workforce and the impact on our team. Next up, make a plan, which you follow up and execute on daily. Our plan at Linamar was named Linamar Health First. That meant the health of our people, of course, but also our health as a company financially. Our customers' health, our communities' health.

And finally, and most importantly, communication, often and fact-based to our employees, first and foremost, but of course, also to our investors and customers. We've communicated weekly even more frequently appoints to our employees with the latest information. We have a series of shareholder meetings over the past few weeks to make sure you knew what we knew and could have confidence in our plans and outlook. And of course, close connection with customers to understand their needs and help them solve their problems and challenges as they arise as well. Our focus right now is very much on recovery.

First and foremost, to create a work environment where people feel and are as safe or safer coming to work than not coming to work. We need to shift from fear to hope, which is an easy view when there's a lot to hear around. We need to take some lessons learned from other countries ahead of us on this curve, both in terms of safe work protocol and what has worked to realize that as well as what we can expect from them on economic and consumer behavior perspective. And we all need to play a role in trying to focus on rebuilding confidence to spur our economic recovery, confidence, obviously, in our ability to work safely in the economy to weather the storm, confidence in our governments to manage the debt incurred to try to mitigate that personal and economic impact and confidence that the lockdowns and isolation will end. So let's take a quick look at each of these.

Our safe work protocol is based on 5 key principles: screening of people before they enter the building to ensure they are healthy and not a risk to others. PPE for them once they're inside to further mitigate the risk and masks are key element in this. Distancing of 6 feet between people once inside at all times with revised seating for meetings or lunchrooms, dividers in common areas are examples of how we can do that. Cleaning and hygiene are ramped up and tracing has been established where possible. So for instance, we have assigned seating in our lunchrooms. So we know exactly who within what radius of each person in the event of a positive case. We've been running in China for 13 weeks using this protocol, and we have had not one single positive case of COVID-19 in that entire time. These protocols work. We have been back for a week in Europe, and we expect to come back in North America next week. Although some plants, of course, are already running on light shifts here, and some have been lightly running through us. So let's take a look at how the consumer has reacted to this situation. Now first, China, obviously, pretty big declines, the first month of lockdowns with a big drop of 80%. Coming back to about a 42% drop in March and finally, a little bit of growth in April. And notably, the last week of April, obviously, showed double-digit growth over prior year.

Now Europe was hit a little later than China, meaning we started seeing the impact of vehicle sales a month later in March and more so in April, but a similar sort of magnitude to what we saw in China. We're keeping a close eye on May. And more so, June, as many European countries are contemplating launching vehicle purchasing incentives in June, which should help them bring sales back. But note that the fact that these measures are being discussed but not implemented yet means with certainty, May is going to be a very tough month as consumers hold off on purchases, waiting for incentives to be put in place. So we should be prepared for low vehicle retail sales in May, in my opinion, in Europe.

In the U.S., we've seen a much more resilient consumer, with markets dropping less than 50% in March and April despite lockdown starting really only a week or few after Europe in most areas. That last week in April actually saw a 56% increase in vehicle registrations and marked the third consecutive week of week-over-week improvement, which is a very positive sign and may mean a quicker ramp back up as customers look to fill rapidly emptying pipelines of vehicles. On the access side, you can see the impact of COVID-19 on forecast in each region. The orange bar is the pre-COVID market forecast for each of those regions. And the gray bar is the latest market forecast, all now significant double-digit declines in all 3 regions. You can also see the Q1 actual market declines in that blue bar, which are all in the kind of low to mid-30% decline range.

For agriculture, on the right-hand side, you can see market declines in combined retail for the first few months of the year. Combined retails were down 22% through March in North America, but the gap narrowed in April to just 16% decline. Notably, Canada is down 37% on combined retails in the first quarter compared to the U.S. being down 18%. So Canada definitely getting hit harder. Markets are down based on a tough harvest due to weather last fall and trade issues, mainly between the U.S. and China. Outlook for that market has not shifted materially from pre-COVID estimates, but of course, we're continuing to keep a close eye on that.

Our financial action plan is comprehensive with cost control and cash conservation, of course, top of mind. We have moved rapidly to cut costs in a variety of areas. Workforce adjustments, of course, cutting or deferring any non-mission-critical spending, cutting travel, in-person meetings for the balance of the year, not just this time frame where we can't do so. We've also established a dedicated global cost team to come up with additional cost and waste reduction ideas. Cash conservation is also a key focus. We immediately scaled back on capital spending, put our highest level cash payment controls in place and have established a system and cadence for efficiently adjusting our financial forecast and cash flow estimates for the next 2 quarters on a weekly basis to make sure we're staying on top of things.

Looking at the results. You can see that in less than 2 months, nearly $12 million in cost reductions have been implemented just out of that global cost team. And you can also see here the 25% cut to capital spending in the first quarter. Our balance sheet is strong, and we're keeping it that way. We came into the year with $1.1 billion in available cash, and we have grown that to $1.2 billion at the end of the first quarter. We are carefully stress testing our latest estimates every single week, and we are confident that even in the event of a more extended shutdown and slower ramp-up and currently contemplated, we will continue to show 2020 full year results profitable with a positive free cash flow and not reaching any covenants.

This slide gives you a sense for what that stress scenario looks like. We have conservatively estimated earnings to drop to less than half of pre-COVID expectations for the year. And in the stress scenario, we have cut that in half again. Of course, customer outlook is changing constantly and the future right now is unfortunately very hard to predict. But the key is keeping on top of the changes, revising our outlook and taking required actions rapidly, and that is exactly what we were doing on a weekly basis. Another key area of focus right now is community work. We have 4 different ventilator projects on the go right now. The first one is for Thornhill Medical, a great innovative Canadian company to make a product, which is actually much more than the ventilator, it's basically an ICU in a box. You can see the unit pictured here, which is actually made up of more than 1,700 different parts in the bill of materials.

Our line is set and ready to roll. You can see a picture here to fully assemble these units, and production is starting in another week or so. I'd like to point out that we assess this product, we got involved with supply chain procurement issues, and we tooled up to make these units in about 6 weeks. In fact, we were ready to produce earlier than that but had to wait for the delivery of testing equipment before we can begin production. We're often asked how easy it would be for Linamar to pivot to make parts and systems for electric vehicles, which differ from those used in traditionally powered vehicles. And I think this project is great evidence of just how quickly, efficiently and effectively, Linamar can pivot and be production-ready on something that is literally completely different to the products that we have traditionally made. Manufacturing is manufacturing, and it is something that we are proud to say we are very good at, regardless of the product. We are also making components for a variety of other ventilator companies.

O-Two Medical is another innovative Canadian company with this ventilator product, which is designed to be simple, easy to use and transportable. We are responsible for 43 different components for the O-Two unit and are currently in production. For GM Ventec, we are making 15 different components, and also are currently in production and have been for over a month now. The first completed ventilators were shipped to hospitals by GM on April 17, only about a month after they started the project. We're also making a part for a ventilator made by ZOLL, who is an associated company to our customer Honda.

Lastly, we are currently tooling up another exciting community support project, which is a UV-based disinfection unit, you can see picture here to rapidly clean mobile phones and other electronic devices for use in hospitals and other places of business, including retail operations. In another extremely rapid project, we are going from purchase order from our customer clean slate to production in less than 4 weeks, and we will make up to 3,000 units for them over the next few months.

And finally, we've been involved in a whole variety of other community support initiatives from donations to innovative 3D printed PPE like the maps, you can see here, door closures to stop people from touching doors, helping our communities in many other ways, that they need us to as well. I think it's really fantastic the way that companies and individuals around the world have found ways to collaborate together and solve problems during this pandemic.

Okay. With that, let's jump into some of the specifics about the quarter, and we'll start off with sales, earnings and content. Sales for the quarter were $1.55 billion, down 21.5% from last year. The pandemic, of course, was a key driver of our results having cost us $275 million in sales, and $80 million in operating earnings for decremental margins, up 29% at the OE level. Adjusting else this impact would have meant sales would have only declined $150 million or 7.6% on already declining markets such as access and ag as well as unfavorable exchange rates.

OE would have only declined $11.6 million from normalized Q1 2019 OE levels for decremental margins of 7.7%, and that thanks to margin improvement, driving out of cost reduction initiatives and higher volumes on launching programs. So the underlying business is performing much more strongly than it was a year ago. Normalized net earnings as a percent of sales in Q1 was 4.4%. On the positive side, our overall normalized EBITDA performance remains strong at 13.8% of sales for the quarter despite the pressures that we felt. In North America, content per vehicle for the quarter was $171.06, down a little from last year, but up from 2019 full year levels.

In Europe, content per vehicle for the quarter was $88.68 and in Asia $11.05, both up nicely despite volatile markets. Production levels were down dramatically in each market, most significantly, of course, in Asia, which felt the brunt of the lockdown in Q1. Global content per vehicle was up 14% over last year. It's great to see that kind of market share growth playing out for us. Remember when volumes pick up as they are expected to be next year, that means growth really accelerates for us. Commercial and industrial sales were down 37.3% in the quarter, due to lower Skyjack sales on global markets down into double digits, as I showed you as well as softer MacDon sales on those spot markets as well.

As we saw, the draper header market was down in double digits over last year in North America and most heavily in Canada where MacDon has strong market share. These declines were partially offset by great market share growth from MacDon in Europe and CIS. In fact, MacDon sold in Europe, 70% of the draper headers sold in all of 2019 in just the first quarter of this year. So great acceleration for MacDon in Europe. This has been a key strategy of MacDon since we acquired them, and it is great to see them delivering on it so strongly. Rapidly cutting back on CapEx was clearly a key priority in the quarter given the headwinds faced by the pandemic. We cut CapEx 25% compared to last year and intend to finish the year targeting CapEx down 1/3 from last year.

And another strong quarter of free cash flow, we saw another $147 million of cash generated to take our liquidity to $1.2 billion, reduce debt further and bring leverage to 1.57x. Free cash flow is something Linamar is quite good at managing. We have seen strong free cash flow over the last 5 years, and we target to see positive free cash flow this year as well. In addition, we are seeing strong levels of free cash flow yield, as you can see on this chart. Our strong balance sheet and liquidity means we have the ability to weather the financial impact of this pandemic over the next couple of quarters in a way that many suppliers simply do not have. This means we will have the ability to take on takeover work and other opportunities as they arise and drive even more market share growth to mitigate soft markets and accelerate future growth.

Turning to our market outlook. We are seeing down markets across the board this year, which shouldn't be a surprise. Industry experts are predicting steeply declining light vehicle volumes globally this year, the latest estimates are for 12.2 million, 15.9 million and 37.5 million units in North America, Europe and Asia, respectively. It's expected that each market will see strong double-digit recovery in 2021. On heavy -- medium, heavy truck volume was also expected to be down significantly this year with growth in most regions next year. Turning to the access market, the industry is expecting significant declines, well in the double digits as you saw for the access market globally this year, driving out of the COVID-19 pandemic. That is adding significant pressure to an already soft year in terms of demand. Next year should see demand steady out, although it is difficult to predict at this moment.

Turning to the agricultural market. The industry expectation is for a declining combined draper header market in the double digits this year, in North America, thanks to that to harvest out last year and the tariff and political backlash issues I described.

Europe and CIS are also expected to decline this year, but Australia may see some improvement, and South America is looking to stay fairly flat. The ag market seems to have not been adversely impacted by the current pandemic. Our market expectations are basically unchanged from our last update. MacDon continues to build market share in international markets, most notably in Europe, as I described, to partially offset market declines. But nevertheless, we will see sales down in double digits for 2020. As noted, almost all of these markets bounced back in 2021.

The decline in light vehicle production from peak to trough at this time represents a drop of about 19.6 million vehicles globally. This is higher than the drop back in 2009. However, at that time, we did not see the drop in Asia that we have this time around, given the global nature of the pandemic.

Also different is the fact that for 10 long years heading into 2009, production levels in North America had declined year after year after year. And has not been true for the last 10 years, where we saw year-over-year increases right through 2017. That means that the industry went into this downturn a lot healthier than they did last time, which is a real positive. 2020 is expected to be the trough for global production levels with increases across the board starting next year. Q2 will, of course, be the low point in production. You can see on this chart the drops to both Q1 and Q2 production levels compared to pre-COVID forecast with the big hit in Q1 being Asia, of course.

And in Q2, I had expected to all 3 regions. This slide also illustrates where volumes are coming out globally for both 2020 and 2021, which in both cases is, again, primarily Asia, but, of course, meaningful hits in North America and Europe as well. In terms of patterns of correction in North America, this does now hit a fairly standard level of reduction, which is good news. Although COVID-19 did accelerate this change painfully for us, it does mean we can now look forward to volume starting to build again.

Turning to an update on growth and outlook. You'll be pleased to know that new business wins have knocked ground to a complete halt. We did see some solid business wins in the quarter. I'm going to highlight a couple of them for you in a moment. Electrified vehicles continue to provide great opportunities for us. You can see a build in both our global content per vehicle for both battery electric vehicles and hybrids as a result of recent wins. The lines of internal combustion, battery electric vehicle and hybrid global content per vehicle are converging, which, of course, is our goal. In fact, hybrid vehicle content per vehicle this year is already where we were in internal combustion engine vehicles only 5 years ago, which is great to see.

Our addressable market across a range of vehicle propulsion types continues to look excellent with our total addressable market for us today around $100 billion, growing to $300 billion in the future, an increase of nearly 3x. Our launch book is solid and expected to peak at more than $4.1 billion in sales. We did shift more than $85 million of programs from launch to production last quarter. Programs will continue to launch and replace existing, although some delays and ramp-ups have been announced. This is still an area that is shifting, and we will have a better update for you on the level of business launching and leaving this year in the coming weeks. In addition, as noted, we're looking at significant declines at Skyjack this year with performance setting up next year. MacDon will see double-digit declines to sales this year, but we do expect to see things picking up next year.

Obviously, it's difficult at this time to be very specific about what this year and next year will look like. What we can say is we expect significant double-digit declines in both sales and earnings this year, but do expect to be profitable overall and in both segments. 2021 should see us growing on routing market with, of course, better margins. We expect to maintain leverage levels well under 2.5x for the year and improved significantly from such in 2021. And we expect to generate positive free cash flow both years.

Looking specifically at Q2. The single biggest impact will be plant and customer shutdowns and the accompanying revenue declines associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Impact from the COVID-19 outbreak are currently not fully understood or determinable in terms of their impact to all segments at this point. But what is clear is after 4 to 6 weeks of complete plant shutdowns globally outside of China in the quarter, and a slow ramp back up to 3 shifts, Q2 will be a very challenging quarter financially. Expect a significant loss, likely higher than the profit in Q1 for a negative first half.

I'll finish up on a more positive note, highlighting a couple of our more interesting wins this quarter, which were notable for electrified vehicles. First, we picked up a package of EAC components for a battery electric vehicle in the quarter worth in aggregate, nearly $25 million in annual sales. This job is for a new entrant into the battery electric vehicle space headquartered in the U.S. with a great and innovative vehicle design and concept. We are excited to expand our portfolio of battery electric vehicle customers. Secondly, we were awarded an assembled battery trade, again for a battery electric vehicle, this time for a European-based OEM. This is a new product to Linamar, focused exclusively on battery electric vehicles. The intricate package ways for cooling in these housings makes the design perfectly suited, so Linamar's light metal casting expertise in thin wall hybrid complex coring. We were excited by this win, which we have been working on for some time.

With that, I'm going to turn it over to our CFO, Dale Schneider, to lead us through a more in-depth financial review. Dale?

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Dale Schneider, Linamar Corporation - CFO [3]

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Thank you, Linda, and good afternoon, everyone. As Linda noted, Q1 was significantly impacted by COVID-19 in terms of sales and earnings. Despite these impacts, it was a great quarter for cash generation as we did generate $147.1 million of free cash flow in the quarter, which represents an increase of over 570% from last year. Additionally, we're able to increase the amount of liquidity that's available to Linamar to $1.2 billion compared to December 2019. For the quarter, sales were $1.55 billion, down $424.7 million from $1.97 billion in Q1 2019. Earnings were normalized for FX losses related to the revaluation of the balance sheet and any unusual items, such as those in Q1 2019.

Normalized operating earnings for the quarter were $103.5 million. This compares to $197.7 million in Q1 2019, a decrease of $94.2 million or 47.6%. Normalized net earnings decreased $71.5 million or 51.3% in the quarter to $67.9 million. Fully diluted normalized EPS decreased by $1.07 or 50.7% to $1.04. Included in earnings for the quarter was a foreign exchange gain of $14.1 million, which was a result of a $14.4 million gain related to the revaluation of our operating balances and a $300,000 loss due to the revaluation of our financing expenses. The FX -- net FX gain in the quarter represented $0.16 to EPS.

From a business segment perspective, the Q1 FX gain due to the revaluation of operating balances of $14.4 million was a result of an $11.5 million gain in industrial and a $2.9 million gain in transportation. Further looking at the segments, industrial sales decreased by 35.7% or $166.1 million to $299 million in the quarter. The sales decrease for the quarter was mainly due to the sales declines associated with COVID-19 pandemic, reduced access equipment volumes for certain key customers that were impacted greater than the general market decline. And finally, the expected agricultural sales declines due to the ongoing issues in the market such as the poor crop conditions, segment, commodity prices and ongoing trade disputes.

Normalized industrial operating earnings in the quarter decreased $46.5 million or 59.7% over last year. The primary drivers of the industrial operating results were impacted by the lower volumes, as I just discussed, which are lessened by the cost savings initiatives that were a key focus in the quarter.

Turning to transportation. Sales decreased by $258.6 million over Q1 last year to $1.25 billion. The sales decrease in the first quarter was driven by the impacts of the COVID-19 and the resulting customer shutdowns that incurred in the quarter. Additionally, we had an unfavorable FX impact due to the changes of rates since last year. Q1 normalized operating earnings for transportation were lower by $47.7 million or 39.8% over last year. In the quarter, transportation earnings were primarily impacted by COVID-19 and partially offset by the targeted cost savings that were achieved.

Returning to the overall Linamar results. The company's gross margin was $200.5 million, a decrease of $103.4 million primarily due to the volume decreases in both segments as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, offset by -- partially offset by the targeted cost savings. Cost of goods sold amortization expense for the first quarter was $108.7 million. COGS amortization as a percent of sales did increase to 7% due to amortization from launching programs and the significant decline in sales revenue. Selling, general and administration costs decreased in the quarter to $97.5 million from $110.2 million last year. The decrease is mainly due to the cost reductions to help offset the COVID-19 impact to our sales and earnings.

Financing expenses decreased by $4.8 million since last year as a result of the impact of lower debt levels from last year and this year in Q1 and also the underlying market interest rates are lower. The consolidated effective interest rate for Q1 declined to 2.5% from 2.9% last year. The effective tax rate for first quarter increased to 24.6% compared to last year, which was mainly driven by the impact of benefiting tax losses in the U.S. at a lower U.S. tax rate. We are expecting the 2020 full year effective tax rate to be in the midpoint of a range of 23% to 25%. Linamar's cash position was $413.2 million on March 31, a decrease of $72.3 million compared to March of last year.

The first quarter generated $232.6 million from -- in cash from operating activities, which is used primarily to fund CapEx and debt repayments. This also resulted in free cash flow generation of $147.1 million in the quarter. Net debt-to-EBITDA increased to 1.57x in the quarter as a result of the strong cash generation. In addition to the impact of FX rates, as a result of COVID-19 had a significant impact on the leverage for the quarter. Net debt-to-EBITDA on a constant currency basis to rates as of December 31, actually declined to 1.48% -- 1.48x . Our goal is to have net debt-to-EBITDA to be under 2.5x by the end of 2020.

Based on our current estimates, we are expecting to be well under 2.5x by the end of the year, subject to any COVID-19 impact that currently may not be known or fully understood. The amount available credit on our credit facilities was $739.3 million at the end of the quarter. Our available liquidity at the end of Q1 was approximately $1.2 billion. And as a result, we believe we have sufficient liquidity to satisfy our financial obligations throughout 2020. To recap, sales and earnings for the quarter was the story of COVID-19. With the dramatic impact that the pandemic is having, the critical story for the quarter is one of cash and liquidity. Linamar have remarkable cash generation quarter and has generated $147.1 million in free cash flow in the quarter and increased our liquidity to $1.2 billion. That concludes my commentary.

And I'd now like to open it up for questions.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) Your first question comes from Mark Neville with Scotiabank.

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Mark Neville, Scotiabank Global Banking and Markets, Research Division - Analyst [2]

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Maybe I just want to start just with the sort of the restart of your production? Maybe just give us sort of an update or Linda, you did mention earlier in the call, but I'm just curious that, I guess, by the end of next week, is it sort of the expectation? Is that sort of all facilities globally are up and running, give or take?

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Linda S. Hasenfratz, Linamar Corporation - CEO & Non-Independent Director [3]

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Well, I mean, as I noted, we had -- our China operations have been running back for 13 weeks. So they're all going at 100%. Europe started coming back last week. So it's not a 0-to-100 kind of return, as you might expect. So they're coming back on 1 shift and slowly building their way back up to 3 shifts. In North America, next week, some plants are coming -- some customers are coming back on 1 shift, some on 2 shifts. So it kind of depends customer to customer. But again, plants starting back next week, but not at 100%, right? So it will take several weeks to get there.

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Dale Schneider, Linamar Corporation - CFO [4]

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Yes. Maybe some other information. It's sort of customer by customer-based and inventory-based as well. So as Linda said, like the shift patterns are going to be a little bit different at each plant, just depending on what the pull is coming in through the EDI systems. But certainly, I think, actively, all plants will be sort of up and going next week in Canada. Certainly, all plants in Europe are up and going, just at different rates. And what we're doing is every Tuesday, we're monitoring every single plant, every single program of when they're coming back per shift and things like that.

And the other thing that's been out there, which was our customer is going to change up their takt times and for some of these things. And the feedback we've got is, no, they're not going to slow down. They've got to come back, run a shift at sort of the rate that they had because they can't really change that up because you'd have to coordinate the paint plant, the stamping plant, and you'd have to do all that. So really, when they go back to a shift, they're going to go back to a full shift, 2 shifts to full shift. So we'll be following that protocol.

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Mark Neville, Scotiabank Global Banking and Markets, Research Division - Analyst [5]

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All right. Okay. That's very helpful. Yes. Okay. Maybe Linda, you mentioned earlier as well, just with decrementals, maybe just by sort of business segment, transportation versus the industrial sort of what kind of decrementals you just sort of held from modeling purposes, sort of what you've sort of built-in or sort of what you could expect -- yes, what we could expect for decrementals?

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Linda S. Hasenfratz, Linamar Corporation - CEO & Non-Independent Director [6]

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Yes. I mean we have generally suggested just a blended number. So we've never really given you decremental margins different for industrial versus the transportation. I mean obviously, the industrial side is more profitable at the OE level. So they're going to be a little higher in the range. So I mean, historically, we've talked about kind of 20% to 25% at the net level. So if you take that up to the OE level and you assume, let's say, 25% for tax and a bit of interest, and that takes you to kind of 27% to 33%. So that's a good range to use for both segments.

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Mark Neville, Scotiabank Global Banking and Markets, Research Division - Analyst [7]

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Okay. So 27% to 33% on EBIT combined?

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Linda S. Hasenfratz, Linamar Corporation - CEO & Non-Independent Director [8]

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Yes.

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Mark Neville, Scotiabank Global Banking and Markets, Research Division - Analyst [9]

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Okay. Maybe just one question, sort of the dividend. Just -- again, I can appreciate sort of the thoughts around conserving cash, especially when you're in just cost reduction mode. But I mean, again, it's -- I guess, the cut would save you roughly $15 million per year. So I guess I'm just curious as to sort of maybe why sort of you made that decision. Again, I appreciate, I guess, it's -- I guess the answer is probably fairly simple, but I just have your thoughts on that.

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Linda S. Hasenfratz, Linamar Corporation - CEO & Non-Independent Director [10]

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Yes, absolutely, Mark, we did grapple with the decision about the dividend because as you correctly point out, it's not a significant number. So it's not moving the dial very much. We do feel we're in a strong position to withstand even longer ramp delays than we're currently expecting without impacting our covenants. But we also recognize there's a lot of uncertainty around us. Sure, we could have left the dividend where it was. But I have to say, frankly, it just didn't feel right when we had thousands of people laid off and not working. We're all kind of sacrificing something. And so we decided it was the appropriate thing to make it cut. We were careful not to cut it completely but I believe that taking it to half is prudent action and appropriate in this environment.

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Operator [11]

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Your next question comes from Peter Sklar with BMO Capital Markets.

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Peter Sklar, BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - Analyst [12]

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Dale, when you talked about the $14.1 million foreign exchange gain, where -- is that below the operating income line? Where do you take that?

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Dale Schneider, Linamar Corporation - CFO [13]

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It's split. So there's a portion that goes to operating, as I talked about, and there are the small -- there's only like a $300,000 loss that hit the financing expenses.

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Peter Sklar, BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - Analyst [14]

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Okay. So when you give kind of these operating income, segmented operating income numbers, which are adjusted for foreign exchange movements. The $72.1 million for powertrain driveline and the $31.4 million for industrial, those are kind of the adjusted operating incomes. Like that's different adjustments than this $14 million, this $14 million is something different, is it not?

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Dale Schneider, Linamar Corporation - CFO [15]

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No, that's what it's adjusting for. In this case, we only adjust for that gain or loss, and we -- or if we had an unusual items, which we did in Q1 this year. So the whole normalizing impact is that number.

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Peter Sklar, BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - Analyst [16]

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So the $103.5 million of operating income, that's taking out this $14.1 million foreign exchange gain. Is that right?

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Dale Schneider, Linamar Corporation - CFO [17]

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Yes. So reported, we were $117.9 million. And we back out that gain, and it takes down $103.5 million.

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Peter Sklar, BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - Analyst [18]

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Okay. Got it. On the CapEx, I believe you said you're taking down your CapEx, like 1/3, I think it's 1/3 year-over-year. Can you talk about how you do that because -- is that because programs are deferred because if the programs are moving forward, you need to have the capital in place. So how do you take your capital down by that magnitude?

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Linda S. Hasenfratz, Linamar Corporation - CEO & Non-Independent Director [19]

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Yes. I mean Peter, part of it is reallocating capital where we can. So as you know, we utilize flexible equipment that if volumes are down, we can reallocate for a temporary time period, and that gives us a little bit of breathing room to push out receipts of new capital equipment for a few months or 6 months in order to be able to push out the capital cost.

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Peter Sklar, BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - Analyst [20]

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Okay. And you gave some interesting numbers. You said that the pandemic had a negative impact of $275 million on sales and $80 million on operating income for, I guess, a decremental margin of 29%. Is that correct? Did I hear that correctly?

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Linda S. Hasenfratz, Linamar Corporation - CEO & Non-Independent Director [21]

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Yes.

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Peter Sklar, BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - Analyst [22]

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Yes. So when you calculate that, is that like after you've sent -- like that $80 million change in operating income. Is that after you've sent all the labor home and you're not incurring the labor costs?

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Linda S. Hasenfratz, Linamar Corporation - CEO & Non-Independent Director [23]

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Sorry, can you say that last piece again?

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Peter Sklar, BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - Analyst [24]

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Well, I'm just trying to figure out, is that -- when you calculate that loss of $80 million of operating income that you would have otherwise gained. Like is that with the employees in the plant? Or do you still like lose $80 million even after you send the employees home and you're no longer paying them?

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Linda S. Hasenfratz, Linamar Corporation - CEO & Non-Independent Director [25]

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Yes. I mean that's the result and the impact to earnings. So obviously, we're not including in that figure wages that we're not paying. I mean if we've got people laid off, we're not paying them.

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Dale Schneider, Linamar Corporation - CFO [26]

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That's the contribution impact. I was looking at the revenue less the variable costs. Yes. And so if you're talking about people on the...

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Peter Sklar, BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - Analyst [27]

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On the floor.

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Dale Schneider, Linamar Corporation - CFO [28]

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Product lines. They would be considered variable because the requirement goes with volume.

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Peter Sklar, BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - Analyst [29]

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Right. And like in Canada, the people that are on layoff, do they fall into any government programs? Or do they go on unemployment insurance?

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Unidentified Company Representative, [30]

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They go on to a wage subsidy program or a CERB with their -- at their choice. So we basically -- when this came to the subsidy program, we basically laid out to all of our employees. What would the impact be if you went on CERB, but the impact if you go on to the wage subsidy and what's the impact if you're on EI. And so every employee would get that data, Peter, and understand the impact to them, and then they would make their decision, which subsidy program they would choose.

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Linda S. Hasenfratz, Linamar Corporation - CEO & Non-Independent Director [31]

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Yes. So I mean, it basically depends on what somebody is earning per hour, there's a breakpoint at which the CERB program is more beneficial to them. So they may decide to be on CERB. And if -- but over a certain wage level, it makes more sense for them to be on the subsidy program.

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Peter Sklar, BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - Analyst [32]

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Yes. Okay. And then finally, just on working capital, you made good progress in terms of generating cash by reducing your accounts receivable and inventory balance. The accounts like -- does this reflect lower volumes? Or does it also reflect the program you've been involved in, where you realize on your receivables from a third party?

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Dale Schneider, Linamar Corporation - CFO [33]

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This is -- there is a bit of financing in there. But to be honest, the amount of financing is going down as the revenue goes down because you have less to finance. So really, the decrease is volume-related. But also the teams being really driven on making sure that we're collecting every penny we can and minimizing anything that's overdue. And watching very carefully that they're not buying anything that's going to go in inventory that we don't absolutely need.

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Unidentified Company Representative, [34]

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Yes. I think from the inventory standpoint, we have to sort of hedge what we're doing, Peter, right? Like we have to plan out what the customers are doing. So right now, we're saying, "Hey, if you don't have clear cut understanding of the production level, you've got to hold off on bringing inventory in." So we've got -- basically, weekly, we're watching cash every week and really every day.

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Operator [35]

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Your next question comes from the line of Kevin Chiang with CIBC.

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Kevin Chiang, CIBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Executive Director of Institutional Equity Research & Analyst [36]

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Maybe just on the net working capital. Should I assume that, that turns -- it becomes a bit of a, I guess, a headwind to free cash flow as you ramp-up production, so that Q1 -- the positive net working capital is kind of a high watermark for the quarter? Or do some of the initiatives that, I guess, Peter was mentioning that you're taking to improve working capital efficiency, provide at least a buffer as you start ramping up your plants again?

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Dale Schneider, Linamar Corporation - CFO [37]

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Well, generally, speaking in a normal year, you would find that we would build noncash working capital in Q1 and further into Q2, as those are our peak selling quarters typically. And then in Q3 and Q4, as you have summer shutdowns, thanksgiving weekends in the U.S. and Christmas break, those 2 quarters tend to be lighter ones. Obviously, in this year, Q2, given the shutdowns is going to be the lightest quarter as a result because you're not going to have as much AR. So for sure, as we start to ramp-up volumes, you're going to see AR come back, and that will be a bit of a drag, but we will be focused on our inventory levels just to make sure that we minimize any investment we have to do to restart the company.

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Kevin Chiang, CIBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Executive Director of Institutional Equity Research & Analyst [38]

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Would your expectation be for the year that it still ends up being an absolute tailwind? Or was it too difficult to tell at this point in time?

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Dale Schneider, Linamar Corporation - CFO [39]

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I'd say it's a little early to predict that at this time.

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Kevin Chiang, CIBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Executive Director of Institutional Equity Research & Analyst [40]

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Okay. And just on your market outlook, at least for 2021, I noticed that there wasn't one for agriculture. And I get the long-term thesis around the replacement cycle and the need to replenish and you've been hit with a number of -- a lot of unexpected events, whether it's trade friction and obviously COVID-19 here. I'm just wondering like how much more buffer do you have when you look at the goodwill that sits on your books for MacDon? Like if you have continued challenges in 2020 and 2021, like is there a way to frame a potential write-down here? Or are you pretty confident that earnings are going to bounce back fast enough to not have to take that hit?

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Dale Schneider, Linamar Corporation - CFO [41]

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Yes. We actually, in the quarter, reassessed our goodwill test that we did in Q4 for exactly that issue. And you'll see disclosures in the MD&A around that. And you have to keep in mind that a goodwill test is a long-term test. It's not a 1-year or 2-year or 3-year test. So if you look at from a long-term evaluation on the way the impairment tests are done, there's no permanent impairment to any of our markets, it is a temporary issue. You are -- all the markets, as Linda already talked about, are showing significant growth for next year, and we expect them to normalize over the long term. So we are not currently anticipating any impairments.

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Kevin Chiang, CIBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Executive Director of Institutional Equity Research & Analyst [42]

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That's helpful. And then just last one for me. Applaud Linamar for a lot of the initiatives it's taken here to help the -- with a lot of the manufacturing of essential medical equipment. Strategically, you're looking to also get into the medical field, and you've made some investments there. Just wondering, what's happened over the past, I guess, 2 to 3 months here. Has that opened up new opportunities that might not have been obvious pre-COVID-19? Does the strategy to get into this segment accelerate now because of COVID-19 and some of the experience that some of the products you're producing today opens those windows? Just wondering how you think about that opportunity longer term?

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Linda S. Hasenfratz, Linamar Corporation - CEO & Non-Independent Director [43]

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Yes. Good question, Kevin. I think that we have learned an enormous amount about the medical device market over the last couple of months, which has been fantastic. I mean as you know, I have said, it is an area we are already looking to expand into. And although ventilators weren't on the list and probably aren't going to be on the list, what is done is just bring us more insight into how the markets work into some of the players that are there. We've made connections with players in this space that I think can be very helpful. And it's just given us a much better understanding of the overall market, which is absolutely helping to inform our strategies into a market that we were already looking to expand into and giving us some ideas around strategies that we can employ.

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Unidentified Company Representative, [44]

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I think one other thing that we've also learned is that we can really bring our manufacturing efficiency to this market. It's very interesting. The customers that we have, O-Two, Thornhill, ZOLL, excellent companies to work with. And we -- I think we can really enhance their efficiencies and that type of thing in this marketplace. And that's something that we've seen pretty clearly that our expertise. And who would have known about this -- what Linda showed is clean-slate product. An ultraviolet system that you put your cell phone in and 20 seconds later, you've got 93% of the bacteria that comes off, right? Who imagine this? And to me that market could be massive. And you think about every plant, every office, every airport, every store might have to have these, right? I mean we don't know. But so there has been a lot of things that have opened up, and I think there'll be more that are coming.

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Linda S. Hasenfratz, Linamar Corporation - CEO & Non-Independent Director [45]

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Yes. I agree. I think that this whole area is one that people are going to be taking a very close look at what do we need in terms of these types of products. And it's exciting that we're at the forefront of it.

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Kevin Chiang, CIBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Executive Director of Institutional Equity Research & Analyst [46]

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That's super helpful. And I have a 3-year old who's always touching my phone. So I think I'll be needing one of those...

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Linda S. Hasenfratz, Linamar Corporation - CEO & Non-Independent Director [47]

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We'll find out for you, Kevin.

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Operator [48]

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(Operator Instructions) Your next question comes from Brian Morrison of TD Securities.

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Brian Morrison, TD Securities Equity Research - Research Analyst [49]

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I just have one follow-up housekeeping question, if I can. I'm just -- if you could just explain to me the decremental margin that you've pulled out, the 29%, the $80 million on the $275 million. Can you just tie together for me, explain to me the difference between the decremental margin reported and that decremental margin that you pulled out in the slide?

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Linda S. Hasenfratz, Linamar Corporation - CEO & Non-Independent Director [50]

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I believe that we called out both. So the $275 million and the $80 million are the impact of COVID in the quarter. So what I did then was strip out the COVID impact from the first quarter of last year and say, okay, if we didn't have COVID, what would our results have been. So basically, I added that back. And when I did so, you'll see that sales and earnings were still down, but dramatically less, obviously. So they would have been down $150 million and around $11 million for a decremental margin in that case, less than 8%. And I wanted to point that out because to me it is illustrative of the fact that our underlying performance is much stronger this year than it was last year. So the -- there was a positive improvement to margins that offset where decremental margins would normally have been. So normally, you would have $150 million decline, and that would hit you at around that, let's say, 30% or $50 million, but we only came down $11 million. So the difference is the improvement on the cost side that has come from ramping projects on Powertrain side as well as cost reductions that we've implemented.

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Operator [51]

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There are no further questions at this time. I'll now turn the call back to Linda for closing remarks.

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Linda S. Hasenfratz, Linamar Corporation - CEO & Non-Independent Director [52]

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Okay. Sounds good. Before I conclude with my final message, I'd like to announce some changes as it relates to our Annual General Meeting. Our AGM is scheduled for Wednesday, May 27, at 10 a.m. And clearly, we are unable to hold a public gathering due to COVID-19. So an in-person meeting is not possible this year. We will instead host our AGM virtually online. We noted this as a possible contingency in our info circular we sent it out and are now acting on it.

So I just wanted to draw that to your attention. For more information, you can refer to the COVID-19 update section of our website for some more details on the virtual AGM format, which is at linamar.com/coronavirus/shareholders. So be sure to do that.

So to conclude this evening, I'd like to leave you with 3 key messages. First, we are thrilled to have, again, driven a strong performance in the quarter on free cash flow of $147 million to drive liquidity up to $1.2 billion, which is obviously key to thriving in these challenging times. Number two, we are really proud of the work of our global team to rapidly mobilize to build ventilators and parts thereof as well as launching a myriad of other initiatives to support our communities. And finally, Linamar is a strong, responsive agile team with a culture perfectly suited to handle crisis. We are laser-focused on cost reduction, cash generation, planning new business opportunities and supporting our global team and communities. Tough times don't last, the tough teams do, and we're one tough team. Thanks, everybody, and have a great evening.

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Operator [53]

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This concludes today's conference call. You may now disconnect.