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Q4 2023 Cooper-Standard Holdings Inc Earnings Call

Participants

Roger Hendriksen; Director, Investor Relations; Cooper-Standard Holdings Inc

Jeffrey Edwards; Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer; Cooper-Standard Automotive Inc

Kirk Ludtke; Analyst; Imperial Capital, LLC

Michael Ward; Analyst; Freedom Capital Markets

Brian DiRubbio; Analyst; Baird

Presentation

Operator

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Cooper-Standard fourth-quarter and full-year 2023 earnings conference call. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded and the webcast will be available for replay later today.
I would now like to turn the call over to Roger Hendriksen, Director of Investor Relations.

Roger Hendriksen

Thanks, Laura, and good morning, everyone. We appreciate your continued interest in Cooper-Standard, and thank you for taking the time to participate in our call this morning. The members of our leadership team who will be speaking with you on this on the call this morning are Jeff Edwards, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; and Jon Banas, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.
To remind you that this presentation contains forward-looking statements while they are made based on current factual information and certain assumptions and plans that management currently believes to be reasonable. These statements do involve risks and uncertainties for more information on forward-looking statements. We ask that you refer to slide 3 of this presentation and the company's statements included in periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. This presentation also contains non-GAAP financial measures. Reconciliations of the non-GAAP financial measures to their most directly comparable GAAP measures are included in the appendix to the presentation posted on out the way.
I'll turn the call now over to Jeff Edwards.

Jeffrey Edwards

Thanks, Roger. And good morning, everyone. We appreciate the opportunity to review our fourth quarter and full year 2023 results and provide an update on our outlook for 2024 and beyond.
To begin on Slide 5, I'd like to highlight some key data points that we believe are reflective of our strong commitment to operational excellence in our core company values in 2023, we continued to deliver world-class results in terms of product quality, program launches and service for our customers. This is reflected by our 98% green product quality scorecards and 97% green program launch scorecards. Even more importantly, we had our best year ever in terms of employee safety for the full year 2023, our safety incident rate was just 0.32 per 200,000 hours worked surprise, surpassing our previous best for 2022 and well below the world-class benchmark of 0.57. We're especially proud of our 24 plants that completed the year with a perfect safety record of zero recordable incidents. Dedicated teams in these plants continue to affirm that our long term goal of zero safety incidents is achievable.
We also delivered strong revenue growth in 2023 through a combination of new program launches and successful implementation of sustainable pricing. Overall, our overall our total sales increased by 12%, significantly outpacing industry production. I want to thank our commercial team for their achievements during the year as they worked closely with our customers to ensure we receive fair value for the products and services we provide.
In addition to the top line growth, we had another solid year in improving operating efficiencies our manufacturing and purchasing teams combined to deliver $56 million in cost savings through defined lean programs and initiatives. Combining increased operating efficiencies with our enhanced commercial agreements, we were able to more than offset continuing inflation headwinds and deliver over 500 basis points of improvement in gross margin for the year. Importantly, the margin expansion is continuing in all of our operating segments. And for the first time, all four segments were profitable at the EBITDA level for the full year, we've made a lot of progress over the past two years but we recognize we have more work to do. We expect to build on the successes of 2023 to drive further value for all of our stakeholders in 2024.
Turning to page 6, complementing our focus on manufacturing efficiency and customer service excellence is our commitment to doing business the right way with uncompromised honesty, transparency and integrity. This is one of our core values is an important component of our overall company culture. It's who we are several weeks ago. We were pleased to once again be named to Newsweek's list of America's Most Responsible Companies. We see this type of recognition as an external acknowledgment of the quality of our company culture and how we conduct ourselves every day. We believe our culture is key to recruiting and retaining the best talent in our industry and further when combined with world-class technology and customer service. It's an important factor in winning and retaining business from our customers around the world.
Now let me turn the call over to John to review the financial details of the quarter.

Roger Hendriksen

Thanks, Jeff, and good morning, everyone. in the next few slides, I'll cover the details of our quarterly and full year financial results, put some context around some of the key items that impacted earnings and then provide some color on our cash flow, balance sheet and liquidity.
So please turn to Slide 8. On Slide 8, we show a summary of our results for the fourth quarter and full year 2023 with comparisons to the prior year. Fourth quarter 2023 sales totaled $673.6 million, an increase of 3.7% versus the fourth quarter of last year, we were able to achieve this growth despite the lost sales related to the UAW work stoppage and the sale of our technical rubber business in Europe. As well as our share of a joint venture in Asia earlier this year or earlier last year.
Adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter 2023 was $27.6 million or 4.1% of sales, essentially in line with our results for the fourth quarter of 2022, despite the impacts of the strike on a US GAAP basis, we incurred a net loss of $55.2 million in the fourth quarter. This included certain noncash charges for pension settlements, restructuring and asset impairments. Excluding these and other special items, we incurred an adjusted net loss of $31.1 million or $1.79 per diluted share for the fourth quarter of 2023. This compared to an adjusted net loss of $31.9 million or $1.85 per diluted share in the fourth quarter of two 2022. For the full year 2023, our sales totaled $2.8 billion, an increase of 11.5% versus 2022. Again, the main drivers of the increase were favorable volume and mix and our new enhanced commercial agreements with the UAW strike and the divestitures being partial offsets.
Adjusted EBITDA for the year came in at $167.1 million compared to $37.9 million for the full year 2022. Favorable volume and mix, including sustainable price adjustments and inflation recoveries, improved operational efficiencies and lower raw material costs. What are the key drivers of the improvement CONTINUING and inflationary pressures, unfavorable foreign exchange and higher performance-related compensation were partial offset. Full year net loss was $202 million. This included the loss we incurred on refinancing and extinguishment of debt, restructuring expenses, pension settlement charges and other special items adjusted for the net impact of these items, we incurred a net loss for the year of $82.3 million, or $4.74 per diluted share. This is a significant improvement when compared to the adjusted net loss of $171.5 million at $9.98 per diluted share we recorded in 2022 from a CapEx perspective, we spent $80.7 million in 2023, which is around 2.9% of sales. This compared to CapEx of $71 million or 2.8% of sales in 2022.
Moving to slide 9, the charts on slide nine and 10 quantifies the significant drivers of the year-over-year changes in our sales and adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter and the full year respectively. For sales in the fourth quarter, favorable volume and mix, including customer price adjustments and recoveries, increased sales by $25 million. This was net of approximately $31 million in lost sales related to the UAW strike. Foreign exchange added $11 million, while divestitures were an offset of $11 million for adjusted EBITDA, favorable volume and mix, including price adjustments and inflation. Recoveries added $8 million in the quarter. This was net of approximately $10 million from lost volume related to the UAW strike, manufacturing and purchasing efficiencies accounted for another $15 million of the improved results. These improvements were offset by $17 million of general inflation, such as wage increases and higher energy expenses and $12 million in other items included in suite, including certain year end accrual adjustments.
Moving to Slide 10. For the full year, favorable volume and mix net of customer price adjustments and recoveries increased our sales by $315 million. The full year sales impact of the UAW strike, which is included here was approximately $34 million unfavorable foreign exchange impacted sales by $5 million and the divestiture of our technical rubber business in Europe as well as our share of a joint venture in Asia, further offset sales growth by $20 million combined for full year adjusted EBITDA, the positive factors included $171 million from improved volume and mix, including customer price adjustments and inflation recoveries, $56 million from improved manufacturing and purchasing efficiencies and $25 million in lower material costs. These improvements were partially offset by $65 million in higher wages and general inflation, $18 million in unfavorable exchange and $40 million in other items, including higher performance-based compensation year over year. The EBITDA impact of the UAW strike was approximately $11 million, which we included in the volume and mix category.
Moving to slide 11, we were pleased to end the year with strong free cash flow of $62 million in the fourth quarter, net cash provided by operating activities was $79.7 million, an increase of $105.5 million compared to the same period last year. The increase was driven primarily by improved net cash earnings and changes in working capital as we were able to leverage the more stable production environment versus the prior year to better optimize inventories and accounts receivable as well as focusing on the collection of customer tooling receivables.
Capital expenditures came in at $17.6 million for the quarter as we continue our intense focus on cash preservation and improving asset utilization with cash on hand of $154.8 million and an additional $162.4 million of availability on our revolving credit facility. We ended the year with total liquidity of $317.2 million based on our current outlook and expectations for light vehicle production, improving operating efficiencies and somewhat moderating inflation pressures. We believe our current cash on hand expected future cash generation and access to flexible credit facilities will provide ample resources to make required interest payments and support our ongoing operations.
That concludes my prepared comments, so let me turn it back over to Jeff.

Jeffrey Edwards

Thanks, John. And to wrap up our discussion this morning, I want to share a few thoughts regarding our near term and longer-term outlook, and I remain extremely optimistic about our opportunities ahead.
Moving to Slide 13 for one reason I'm optimistic is our culture of innovation and our success in bringing new technologies to market. In 2023, we were awarded $176 million in new business associated with our innovation products. We believe the reason is clear. We're adding value for our customers through new product innovations that solve technical challenges and help them achieve their sustainability objectives. Our digital tools and technologies are helping us bring new ideas and solutions into the market faster than ever before, and we're pushing to even go faster, not necessarily because our customers' demand that would be faster. But because our technological advancements enable them to be faster more than ever, our innovations, digital tools and technical capabilities are driving opportunities and extending our competitive advantage. As always, we want to thank our customers for their continued trust and support.
Turning to slide 14, one of the innovations we've recently introduced is the integrated coolant manifold. We have already sold this technology to a major customer for application on a significant electric vehicle platform, but it is adaptable to all types of vehicle ICE, hybrid or battery electric use of the manifold provides an elegant but simplified fluid delivery configuration that reduces assembly connections, helps stabilized fluid pressures and allows for enhanced airflow to optimize thermal management. This technology can be paired with our new Eagle flow technology to drive even further efficiencies within the thermal management system. And while these technologies solve problems and reduce costs for our customers, they create increased content per vehicle and a growth opportunity for Cooper-Standard.
Turning to Slide 15. In our sealing business, a rapidly growing innovation is our flush seal technology plus seal offers enhanced vehicle esthetics and improved aerodynamics with only minor changes to the traditional door architecture. The technology was recognized as a finalist in the Society of Plastics Engineers, automotive Innovation Awards. So last year, but more importantly than industry awards are the customer program awards. We've already received contract awards for this technology on nine customer programs with more on the way these program awards with a variety of new and well-established OEMs around the globe.
Turning to Slide 16. We're pleased to recently announce that we had expanded our Fortrex license agreement in the footwear industry and to finally be able to disclose that our partner in that agreement is Nike. As we disclosed in that announcement, the expanded agreement grants Nike, a limited exclusivity for the use of Fortrex in the footwear industry. It also allows Nike to develop their own proprietary extensions of Fortrex technology for potential use in additional product lines and applications.
Volume-based financial terms of the agreement remain in place. So as Nike expands their use of Fortrex, it creates upside financial opportunity for Cooper-Standard. We believe this expanded agreement is further validation of the significant potential opportunities that our Fortrex technology offers. Of course, we're also continuing our own development of new versions of Fortrex for automotive applications, including micro dense four tracks and 80 65 for tracks that offer lower weight, improved compression set, increased design flexibility and advantaged carbon footprints. Our enhanced Fortrex automotive portfolio will be rolling out to the markets this year and next year, which will be key to capturing additional sales and market share in automotive sealing.
Turning to slide 17, in 2023, our Industrial and Specialty Group made significant progress in optimizing that business and setting the stage for accelerated profitable growth. This business, like many others, faced several challenges in the aftermath of the pandemic. Supply chains were disrupted tight labor markets led to high employee turnover and reduced productivity. And our planned end market demand for industrial products, frankly, was weak. The ISG. team has done a great job in resolving these issues, and they are now in the process of executing a new advanced marketing strategy to leverage digital marketing techniques to regain and expand market share. Key markets and focus are the high growth industrial segments of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, major appliances, agricultural and construction. In addition, IASG is leveraging all of the best manufacturing practices and digital tools that have been developed and deployed to optimize our automotive operations. With these operational improvements in place, we expect IASG to achieve an average growth rate in excess of over 20%.
The next three years and deliver adjusted EBITDA margins well in excess of 10% over that same period.
Turning to slide 18, the successful turnaround of IASG as part of our continuing focus on controlling cost and optimizing our operations globally. We've made excellent progress in reducing fixed costs, which we expect to leverage to drive increasing profitability as global production volumes continue to ramp up we're maintaining our commitment to fix unprofitable businesses and concentrate company resources in the areas that provide the greatest opportunities for future growth and improve cash flow. In some cases, the best opportunity for improving cash flow may be through exiting a business as we have done in the past. That remains an option as well.
Turning to slide 19 to conclude this morning, let me provide a little color on the guidance we published in our press release yesterday afternoon. Our expectations for 2024 are for further margin expansion and more modest top-line growth. Current forecast suggests that global light vehicle production will be similar to last year. With our strong customer mix, new program launches and increasing content per vehicle, we expect our growth to outpace the industry in each of our key markets. We also expect to drive further cost savings through improved operating efficiencies and lean initiatives that will enable us to offset continued inflationary pressures to achieve our targets for the year. We need to continue to deliver world-class products and services and successfully negotiate with our customers to renew the small portion of our commercial agreements that don't automatically carry forward from last year. I'm confident that we will looking out beyond 2024. We see a lot of positive data points today that suggests significant upside opportunity for the automotive industry overall and for Cooper-Standard specifically in the coming years, record numbers of new licensed drivers, record high average age of the vehicle fleet in the US light vehicle inventories that despite recent improvements remain well below historical averages, all suggest consumer demand for new cars will remain strong and production will have to increase to keep up with these supportive dynamics, I'm increasingly confident that we can and will achieve our longer-term targets for profit margins and return on investment.
Operator, let's open the lines for questions.

Question and Answer Session

Operator

(Operator Instructions) Kirk Ludtke, Imperial Capital.

Kirk Ludtke

Well, JEFF John, Roger, thank you for the call Baker, um, maybe on slide 19, maybe that's the best place to start on. So guidance is essentially flat revenue on flat production. I'm just wondering if maybe you could elaborate on the on the the 10 million in the bridge volume mix price are all three of those components positive. Is there a can you give us any color as to how big huge piece is yes, I think it's John, Tom.

Roger Hendriksen

While it's a small number, there is a lot going on in those in that one one column of the comments that Jeff made prepared wise is that we're going to be growing in excess of the regional markets in which we operate. So suffice it to say that our volumes in and of themselves will be will be positive. And then we'll continue to have some work to do with enhancing our commercial agreements on a go-forward basis as well. But that also comes back with the traditional contractual environment within which we operate here in the auto space as far as giving giving money back to our customers each year. So there's some puts and takes when you when you think about the price area overall, our mix for the year, we're seeing a different mix components as far as the types of vehicles being manufactured in each of the regions that's inherent in the S&P Global kind of a view of the world as well as what our customers are telling us is going to be built in 2024. So you do see some some regional differences as well as the type of platform, whether it's SUVCUV. light duty trucks, but then there's also a significant component of EV launches that continue to come on mine and be important part of the year-over-year story.

Kirk Ludtke

Got it. Thank you. That's helpful. With respect to the the production schedule. Is it the norm, the cadence for 2024? Is it the same seasonality or do you think it's different this year?

Jeffrey Edwards

Becker to Jeff, I think it's predicted to be more normal. So I guess that's a slow start in the first quarter and comment on as you go through the year is kind of how I would describe it clearly are light vehicle production units and the guidance that we used for 24, as you can see, there are continue to be a bit conservative, I guess, as I would describe it. But the good news is we have truly reduced our overall cost base, especially our fixed costs, and we are prepared to make significant margin improvement. And even on those lower lower volumes. So based on my prepared remarks, you can tell I'm sure you know that the industry is we believe there's significant pent-up demand. We believe that many of the other metrics of or regarding our consumers and their appetite and interest in buying vehicles going forward continues to be to be positive. So at some point, we expect the volumes to begin to reflect that. But in the meantime, we've chosen to be a bit conservative there ourselves.

Kirk Ludtke

Got it. That's helpful. Thank you. And on the on slide 13, you mentioned net new business of one 76. Can you can you elaborate on that a little bit? And I'm assuming that the net number is are your market share stable?

Jeffrey Edwards

Yes, just to clarify, currently the one 76 is simply innovation, a new new innovation sales. We tried to capture that to make that the point that sometimes when people talk about innovation, it's going to be the future right?
And our point is that we have been capturing significant new business on innovation sales. We highlighted several of those innovations this year that are today that will impact this year's net new business as well as next year's just to make the point that we have the ability to differentiate ourselves in the market. So as new programs come out for bid as replacement programs come out for bid. We don't believe we're a me-too supplier. We are offering significant ways for our customers to improve the overall efficiency of their assembly to reduce overall costs and to improve the performance. And we don't have to think that we know that because we're booking business today with that our calling card. So we're really proud of that. I think as we go forward, our content per vehicle on these future launches will definitely reflect this increased content. So that often answers your question, but that's kind of the point we were making today.

Kirk Ludtke

Okay. That's that's helpful. With respect to market shares, do you feel like you're stable?

Jeffrey Edwards

We've got it.

Kirk Ludtke

And then last question, you mentioned that there may be some addition by subtraction opportunities here in terms of exiting businesses that are consuming cash. Can you give us a sense for what the I guess is it negative EBITDA, what the negative EBITDA was in those businesses last year?

Jeffrey Edwards

Sure, Kurt, this is Jeff again. I think that the best news is that for the first time in our in our company's history. I think certainly I can speak for the last 12 years or so on. This is the first time that every one of our regions has has made a positive EBITDA and cash flow contribution to the Company. So I think that shows that the focus we've had on either exiting because we have or fixing because we certainly have and kept them that that works. And there's a lot of complexity that goes into that. I mean, certainly customers have a vote one way or the other. We certainly have a vote one way or the other. And I think we'll just continue to march our way through country by country product by product, continue to look at the business in several different dimensions to ensure that we're operating at the lowest cost possible for us at the same time, reflecting the desire of our customers to pay us a fair price for what we're providing and that's kind of the approach we've taken. And we're very grateful that our customers continue to support us and trust us in our execution. It is what determines that right? I mean that I'm sure they like us, but the real fact is we execute, and that's why we're winning business. And so I think that will continue. And I don't have a list to answer your question of businesses that we will that we plan on exiting. We clearly continue to look at the evolving markets. We're looking at the customer makeup of the Company going forward and where that growth is going to come from. And we'll make appropriate decisions regarding our footprint based on where those growth opportunities are and make sure that we continue to drive return on invested capital on hire and all of the plans that we have in place today through that.

Kirk Ludtke

Wonderful. I appreciate it. Thank you about.

Jeffrey Edwards

Thanks for the questions.

Operator

(Operator Instructions) Michael Ward, Freedom Capital.

Michael Ward

So good morning, everyone. I'm Jeff, maybe we can start with Nike and what you have there limited exclusive exclusivity. Could you define that a little bit? And then also when you say volume based financial terms, can you provide any definition for them?

Jeffrey Edwards

Well, good morning, Mike. Thanks for the question. This is Jeff, the simplest way for me to describe this deal is Nike ask us have to put together a deal that would allow them to go faster in developing products across their portfolio and they felt like they were in a better position to do that faster with the proposed deal that we've agreed to. So we expect them to do that. We expect that there will be significant growth opportunities for us within the Fortrex portfolio. And when that happens, we get paid more money and it's really that simple. They're committed to the product they have launched the product and they plan on taking it across other lines in this agreement, allows them to go faster and hopefully allows them to grow it faster than what we were doing before.

Michael Ward

Okay. So you've licensed them the chemistry, correct?

Jeffrey Edwards

I'm sorry, Mike, you broke up that you've licensed the chemistry, you're not selling the material. Just the chemistry that is correct each.

Michael Ward

Okay. And so right now, I think it's on two different sneakers or Twitter and choose. And so are you paid on a per sneaker type basis? Is that how it does how they do.

Jeffrey Edwards

We have a royalty stream set up based on their their volume. So as their volume goes up over over a period of time, that's how we're paid.

Michael Ward

Okay. And straight cash, it's just a straight hundred percent margin cash flow?

Jeffrey Edwards

That's correct. Yes, we got no investment.

Michael Ward

Okay. Okay. John, on your page 10, when you look at the bridge on revenue and EBITDA of 22 to 23, you have the volume and mix. Is that where the recoveries are placed as it both on the revenue and the EBITDA side?

Roger Hendriksen

That's right, Mike, we put them in that volume and mix of columns, respectively, in both sales and adjusted EBITDA.

Michael Ward

Okay. So 23 was kind of a lumpy year because you had recoveries coming back from the one or two years prior. Is that correct?

Roger Hendriksen

Yes, that is the the cadence was it wasn't ratable for sure. If you recall back in Q3, we had some significant agreements reached that were retroactive. So it was a little bit lumpy, but you can appreciate the full year is a more representative view of all those price agreements that were reached to enhance our commercial arrangements.

Michael Ward

Okay. So now those things are reset. So as we go into 2024, with your assumptions that 10 million number. There's very little to no recoveries is or recoveries or potential upside in 2024 and EBITDA.

Roger Hendriksen

Yes, I mentioned that there's probably still some work to do around sustainable price in certain of our product areas as certain of our regions. So the team is still working diligently with our customers to make sure we're getting getting paid properly for the products and services we're providing. So again, some work to do there. But the nature of the industry is always such a contractual LTAs or givebacks. Our inherent in the POs. And oftentimes we have to overcome the owes. So you've got the team going to work on resetting prices, but dealing with the contractual overhang as well.

Michael Ward

Okay. So right now there's nothing really significant assumed in your assumptions for 2024?

Roger Hendriksen

Well, there's pluses and minuses, Microsoft, right, like direct now.

Michael Ward

Okay.

Roger Hendriksen

As you look at one of the finish line but right, just to clarify, Mike, just to clarify all the deals reached, we've said in the past that what we've been able to reach agreements with our customers on 70% to 75% of that carries over into next year. So so your starting point still having that is the benefit of those arrangements.

Michael Ward

Right. And so and to what Jeff was talking about the big one comes in this years when you've been saying that for a while now that we see the benefits of the restructuring actions starting to unfold in 2024. We're starting to see that that's in your projection.

Jeffrey Edwards

Yes, that's correct, Mike and Jeff, I think that the best way for me to categorize all of that is that that I think we have reached a point of normalcy related to it. The price negotiations with customers that have gone on for, I don't know, 50, 60 years. I don't see this year being an abnormal one like last year or the year before it was. So we've reset it. You can see that on our margins, it's very clear and it would be nice to get more volume. I'll just leave it at that.

Michael Ward

And just lastly, on the segment data in that corporate other, you have a big negative in Q4 and for the year, it was more of a negative compared to last few years actually since 2018. I think was there anything in there or is it lumpy your enclosures? What happened in that data? Yes.

Roger Hendriksen

Yes, Mike, the we referenced the final year end accrual true-ups that we always have to do. And one of those is some incentive compensation related matters. The lumpiness you see is you have to wait till the end of the year to see how the overall ARM performance is against the commitments that are inherent in those plans. So that is one of the elements that are in that Q4 number of the to be fair that we don't charge out, if you will, all of the corporate costs and overheads so that always remains down. There's a negative line item in the segment perspective.

Michael Ward

Okay. Okay. So the last couple of years are more unusual where you had positive sense on that line.

Roger Hendriksen

Unfortunately, when there's positive adjustments that goes against goes the other way, if you unfortunately attrite.

Michael Ward

Okay, really appreciate. And thank you, everyone.

Jeffrey Edwards

Sorry, Mike. Thanks.

Operator

[Ben Briggs, SaRonix Financial, Inc.]

Yes. Good morning, guys, and thanks for taking the questions. So I've got a few here. So as I go through your 2024 guidance. And if you kind of add those all up at the midpoint, you get to roughly free cash flow breakeven just using an EBITDA minus minus the cash costs and kind of kind of simple analysis. I know that working capital was obviously a tailwind for free cash flow generation this year and especially in the fourth quarter can you talk a little bit about what you expect working capital impact to be in fiscal 24?

Roger Hendriksen

Yes, Ben, this is John. I'll take that one is you as you can appreciate we don't provide direct guidance on free cash flow, but your math is directional. We do see the path towards positive free cash flow overall in 2024 and we've made good progress in 23 to improve those working capital areas. Certainly inventory management and the focus on collection of customer tooling receivables were a couple of big areas and so there is still some room for improvement in many of those areas that probably won't be as significant as we saw in 2023 to be frank, but the incremental cash flows will certainly come from higher cash earnings overall, continued improvements in operating efficiencies and the volume that we're showing you here on the bridge walk across.

Okay, got it. But should we expect I know you don't you don't provide direct working capital guidance. Should we expect to see you figure out a more normalized inventory number, I guess right now or do you think it should be significantly different at the end of the year?

Roger Hendriksen

Not significantly different, but there's certainly continuous improvement and optimization of those up. The biggest challenge in the last couple of years was obviously the volatility in production schedules from our customers. So it's really hard to continue to work with all those balances down when when the releases are changing so volatility. So as their production environment stabilizes and things get more more normalized and consistent, then we can go to work to continue to take that entire overall inventory balance down.

Okay, got it. Got it. Thank you. And then was I don't think you already answered this, but have all the while I know there's some one-time charge, especially in the third quarter from customers with one-time payments that positively impacted gross margins. It didn't look to me like there were many in the fourth quarter. Is that accurate? And can you just confirm whether or not you guys have received all the one-time drops that you're expecting your supposition is right.

Roger Hendriksen

There weren't a lot of those quote unquote, one-time or retroactive type deals. Reached in Q4. We said on the last call that around 25 to $30 million was booked in Q3 that didn't repeat here in Q4. And so once those deals are reached in September, call it the normal payment terms would have been such that we've received all that money that was booked in Q3 and Q4 already. So it's part of the working capital elements that we're able to collect on those receivables that were recorded in Q3.

Okay, got it. So not much not much to expect from that going forward. And then finally, when should we expect the Nike partnership and to be moving the needle? I know that you'd spoken of a few quarters ago that it was probably not going to make a major impact in the immediate term. But I wanted to see if there is maybe any positive news there that we should expect some tailwinds from that in the next couple of years?

Roger Hendriksen

Yes, Ben, right now, we'll just leave it as a TBD, as Jeff described, the arrangement that Nike has and they want to move fast. So we'll monitor and see how how they progress and we'll be able to report those once they once they start cranking it up.

Okay. All right. I appreciate, Tom. Two questions.

Operator

Brian DiRubbio, Baird.

Brian DiRubbio

Good morning, gentlemen. A few questions for me. Just maybe starting off with CapEx spending. You spent more on CapEx as a percentage of sales in prior years. How should we think about that CapEx to sales number today? Is that do you consider sort of underspending a little bit? Or does do you think that's the new run rate for you going forward? Now?

Jeffrey Edwards

This is Jeff. I think we mentioned in the last call and that 3% to 3.5% some years. If there's a lot of launches, you could get up closer to four. But I would say this is closer to the new normal to answer your question.

Brian DiRubbio

Okay, that's helpful. Thank you. And then just on working capital, I know you're not guiding to there, but as I'm sort of monitoring a bunch of commodities, I see steel costs up pretty significantly over the last couple of months. Rubber costs up pretty significantly. You know, I guess two parts of that a, you know, it is should we expect that a little bit of a build in working capital. The no does it make sense for the company make an investment in some of these products because there is price going to go higher and I see apologize for the multipart, but how are your contracts are structured so you can get compensated for those higher costs? What's the lag in that Thank you.

Roger Hendriksen

Yes, Brian, I'll take the second first. We've said in the past that we're reaching a point where most of our commodity buys are. We've got the index agreements with our customers to recover and that that was also in around the 70% ballpark. So as costs go up, then we were able to pass along that requisite amount. The rest of it, we can negotiate as long as the economic economics change, but that's the general go forward. And typically, those resets are either a quarterly or six month basis that we go back in. Many of them are automatic the PO just adjusts with those indices updates. And so the so that's kind of how we're viewing the world as far as the commodity commodities that we're exposed to are that we're buying. We don't see a significant increase in costs in 2020 for at least from the data points that we're using could even be a slight tailwind. But the good news is there. It's much more stable than it's been in the past couple of years. So so we've not seen a significant change in the overall commodity exposure front that will cause us to do anything differently in our business. And we do so given that you have no plans to make any investments in inventory at this point?

Brian DiRubbio

No. Got it. And then just a follow-up question for me. Obviously, cash flow was good, but you're picking a good portion of your interest as those picks roll off? I know the ones in the first lien. Does that there this year? No. How are you thinking about sort of the balance sheet and liquidity?

Roger Hendriksen

And I guess I put another way you does an equity raise on the table at any point, Brian, I said in my prepared remarks that we we think the cash flow generation and our continuous improvement activities to further rightsize the business, optimize our financial strength here going forward is going to be adequate from a debt service standpoint. And you'll see actually today when we file our 10 K later on. We've elected a straight pay on the third lien notes for the June coupon period. So we're confident that the cash flows will continue to be strong and we're able to make them make that decision six months in advance.
So the as far as going forward into 25 or 26, I'm not going to talk about any strategic road map that we're thinking about because a lot of a lot can change in a lot of execution needs to happen between now and then, but the to your to your point, the the first and third lien non-call provisions come off Q1 of next year, so there could be opportunities there. If the interest rate environment is positive, we continue to execute and have successive cash flow generation patterns in front of us. So we'll see there's a lot to happen between now and then, but we're already already thinking ahead to two, what it means for us going forward as the business continues to execute and grow profitably.

Brian DiRubbio

Great. Appreciate all the color. Thank you so much.

Roger Hendriksen

Thanks, Brent.

Operator

(inaudible), Beach Point Capital.

Hey, thanks for taking the time. Just a few questions from me. First, has there been any impact to the business from the supply chain disruptions, what's going on in the Red Sea?

Jeffrey Edwards

This is Jeff. I think the of the supply chain issues that we were talking about the last couple of years have essentially been resolved. Does that mean in this industry that's extremely complex related to the supply chain that there aren't still some things that cropped up I suppose the answer to that is there are, but but I would say they've reached a point now where we could say that we've normalized our operations, right? We don't have that type of headwinds that we're dealing with. And for that reason, our costs have never been lower more competitive. Our operation from an execution point of view is world-class. The price recovery negotiations that we just went through with our customers have really restored the margin foundation that the company needs in order to create and generate the type of cash going forward.
That's required. We had index agreements now that are in place that that ensure that the inflation, a roller coaster that that created some pretty big challenges for us is behind us innovation is strong. We've talked about that. We're just waiting for volume uplifts. And when that happens, the Company has never been positioned better to generate the type of free cash flow that we require going forward.

Roger Hendriksen

So probably the reason why our customers have been so supportive in zone here specific to the Red Sea issue, we don't move a lot of inventory through the Suez Canal, while you've probably read about some of the European customers are European OEMs being impacted by their supply chains, we have not seen a material impact at all from the from the Renzi issue.

Thanks. And then would you mind sort of helping us understand the step-up in manufacturing purchasing efficiencies this year from 56 million in 2023 to the guided $80 million happening there.

Roger Hendriksen

Yes, the pipelines, if you will also hear that the team is looking towards is really the sequential year-over-year improvements in their overall manufacturing operations in our purchasing area. So there's continued opportunities. Our team sees on the purchasing side as we as we work towards as a strategic supply base. We commonize the supply base for economies of scale work with a handful of strategic suppliers instead of spreading the purchases out, you get more bang for your buck that way. So there's still a pipeline of opportunities that we're continuing to see and some exciting things going on as far as how we how we analyze how we buy product and similar on the manufacturing side, it's more of a year-over-year number about how we continue to get more efficient, lean out the operations from a whether it's a product flow or a manufacturing flow standpoint, reductions in scrap opportunities, reductions in freight costs and the like all kind of weigh into that so many, many areas to attack and drive the continuous improvement that you see on the page. So to break it down a little bit for you discretely, it's probably about 60 40 of that $80 million. And that's you think about manufacturing versus the purchasing lean opportunities and then last one for me.

How should we think about timing and path to get to that double-digit margin target that you guys have previously highlighted?

Jeffrey Edwards

Yes, this is Jeff. I think if you if you project about two years with our with our current plans, that's kind of what we have, what we've been saying and what we've circled. I'd certainly like it to be helpful getting there faster if we get volume. But given the current projection from our customers as well as the the people that forecast volume in the industry, I would take a couple more years of what we've seen as growth within the industry to to have that line of sight. So that's that's the answer I'd give you. And we're hopeful that it's much faster if we get the volume that we believe pent up and available.

Sorry to clarify, do you think Bye getting to 10% margins is a couple of years out or you'll have visibility to it in a couple of years. As I said, I don't think we'll be there in two years to be in. Is that largely driven by volume or are there other major components here?

Jeffrey Edwards

I think it's delivered by volume a bit. It's delivered by the content per vehicle related to the innovation sales that we've been talking about it's delivered by launching a business that has better margins and the business that it would replace going forward. It's driven by being profitable in all regions and all products that we're working our way to, as we talked about the end of this year were there that's continuing to improve upon those margins customer by customer country by country product by product. And we have a pretty good line of sight there and it's not cost reducing ourselves to prosperity. It's really launching a lot of the new business that will have higher content and higher margins because of innovation and other things that we've done with our fixed costs.

And then last one for me. How are you guys thinking about addressing your capital structure of the noncall period for your that will as we are.

Roger Hendriksen

This is the John, who am I kind of alluded to it in my my response to Brian, the non-call of comes off in Q1 of next year. So we're already looking to them to understand the market a little bit better, see what the interest rate environment does look like. But for us in particular right now, it's all about execution and delivering on our guidance and our commitments here, really centers around us, continuing to generate positive free cash flow and stabilize the business and take advantage of the market growth. That's ahead that Jeff just described for you.
So no plans to announce here for yet, but we're already contemplating it's 11 months away that noncall provisions comes off. So we'll see how the year progresses and have some more specific as things go on. But suffice to say, we do see opportunities ahead as the business grows profitably to to bring down our overall debt service costs and go forward a little bit stronger portfolio.

Thanks for the time.

Michael Ward

Okay.

Roger Hendriksen

Thanks, Hunter.

Operator

It appears there are no more no more questions. I would now like to turn the call back over to Roger Hendriksen

Roger Hendriksen

say thanks, everybody, for your participation this morning for the good questions. If there is anybody out there that didn't get a chance to ask their questions, please feel free to reach out to me directly, and we'll arrange to have those questions answered again. Thanks. For your participation this morning. This will conclude our call.Thank you.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes your conference call for today. We thank you for participating and ask that you please disconnect your lines. Have a lovely day.

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