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Edited Transcript of FBU.NZ earnings conference call or presentation 16-Feb-21 10:00pm GMT

Half Year 2021 Fletcher Building Ltd Earnings Call Penrose Auckland Feb 17, 2021 (Thomson StreetEvents) — Edited Transcript of Fletcher Building Ltd earnings conference call or presentation Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 10:00:00pm GMT TEXT version of Transcript ================================================================================ Corporate Participants ================================================================================ * Bevan McKenzie Fletcher Building Limited – CFO * Ross H. Taylor Fletcher Building Limited – CEO ================================================================================ Conference Call Participants ================================================================================ * Andrew Geoffrey Scott Morgan Stanley, Research Division – Executive Director * Brook Campbell-Crawford JPMorgan Chase & Co, Research Division – Analyst * Chris McKegg BofA Securities, Research Division – Research Analyst * Keith Chau MST Marquee – Building Materials & Packaging Analyst * Lee Power CLSA Limited, Research Division – Research Analyst * Marcus Curley UBS Investment Bank, Research Division – Executive Director and Head of New Zealand Research * Rohan Koreman-Smit Forsyth Barr Group Ltd., Research Division – Research Analyst * Simon Thackray Jefferies LLC, Research Division – Equity Analyst * Stephen Hudson Macquarie Research – Head of Research ================================================================================ Presentation ——————————————————————————– Operator [1] ——————————————————————————– Thank you for standing by, and welcome to the Fletcher Building Half Year Results Analyst Briefing. (Operator Instructions) I would now like to hand the conference over to Mr. Ross Taylor, CEO. Please go ahead. ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [2] ——————————————————————————– (foreign language) Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the presentation of our results for the 6 months ended 31 December 2020. Presenting with me today is our group CFO, Bevan McKenzie. Moving to Slide 3, this outlines our key talking points today. I’ll begin by providing an overview of the results, and then I’ll run through the divisional performance in a bit more detail. Bevan will then talk through the overall financial performance for the half year, and then finally, I’ll sum up with some outlook comments on the half year ahead. Turning to Slide 4. We’re now around 2.5 years into our reset strategy for Fletcher Building. And it’s pleasing to see improved performance across the board and this performance flowing through to strong earnings growth. I’ve summarized the highlights from the first half as follows: the performance and efficiency programs we’ve been focused on are now embedded and sustainable. The overall market activity across New Zealand and Australia has remained broadly stable half-on-half. And against this backdrop, our overall revenue has remained solid, and we saw pleasing growth in our New Zealand core businesses. We have seen margin improvements across all divisions. We generated strong cash flows, which have continued to support our strong balance sheet position. And off the back of all this, the Board has declared an interim dividend of $0.12 per share. Turning to Slide 5. Group revenue increased 1% half-on-half to $4 billion. In New Zealand, we saw solid overall activity in our businesses with good volumes and house sales. While in Australia, revenue was slightly lower as we felt the effects of the slower commercial and civil market. In construction, revenue was lower as we had less legacy construction work to get through, which is a positive. And if we net out the lower construction revenues, group revenue was up 5% overall. We’re making good progress on improving the operating performance across all of our businesses. First half group EBIT was up 47% to $323 million, and our group EBIT profit margins were up 2.6% to 8.1%. Pleasingly, all divisions generated improved EBIT margins. Finally, on this slide, net earnings for the half were $121 million. This was impacted by $86 million of significant items, which related to the previously flagged final phase of our restructuring costs and the impairment of the Rocla business as we are in the process of selling it. Slide 6 shows cash flows improved significantly half-on-half, with free cash flow of $416 million and trading cash flow of $516 million. This was predominantly driven by continued improvements in our management of working capital and a lower spend on CapEx. Our net debt levels at the end of the half were $269 million, and we had $1.5 billion of liquidity. This continues to leave us with a very strong balance sheet position. On Slide 7, we show that earnings per share has increased 85% from the comparative half to just under $0.24 per share. Pleasingly, the strength of the business position has allowed us to adjust our banking agreements where we can now keep our covenant relief, should we need it, through to June 2021 and pay an interim dividend. Off the back of these adjusted agreements with our banks and the overall business performance and trajectory, the Board has declared an interim dividend of $0.12 per share to be paid in March. And looking forward, we continue to expect to be in a position to pay a final dividend for the full year. On Slide 8, I outline our safety performance for the half. As I’ve mentioned previously, our focus is very much on the identification and elimination of critical risks across all of our businesses, and this is the elimination of serious injuries and in all injuries. We are very much in the middle of this program. And through the year, we’ll be conducting many hours of development and training across all levers of our business. This training will be led by our line managers with the aim of both lifting the skills and changing the culture of our organization to ensure we achieve our goals. The right-hand graph shows the progress we’re making on eliminating serious injuries. And the left-hand chart shows our overall total injury rates, which continue to be in the range of 5 to 6 injuries per million man-hours worked. And while these overall injury rates represent good levels when compared to our competitors and other industries, we’re still targeting to get this down well under 5 in the medium term. Slide 9 outlines some of the progress we’re making around sustainability, which is now getting recognized by numerous external agencies. On carbon, we have in place verified plans for each business that map out how we’ll achieve our goal of a 30% reduction in our carbon emissions by 2030. This work and our broader work in sustainability across the social, environmental and governance dimensions of our business means we now have been included in a number of key indices on achieving strong ratings improvements. We are now in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices, both in Australia and Asia Pacific. Our MSCI Sustainability rating now sits at an A, and our Carbon Disclosure Project rating has moved from a D to a B. This places us in a sustainability leadership position relative to our peers in this region. I’ll now move into the details of operations. Starting with our New Zealand businesses, which account for around 2/3 of our revenue, I’ll first provide an overview of what we’ve seen through the half in the New Zealand market on Slide 11. In the top charts, we see that residential building activity has been very solid. In the half year, work put in place was slightly up for the same period last year. The consented floor area has risen strongly and is up 8%. As our workloads and volumes generally laid consents by around 4 to 6 months, we therefore expect to see continuing strong demand from the New Zealand residential market. The commercial and infrastructure sectors trended slightly lower through the half. And looking forward, w
e expect the commercial sector to continue to trend lower, but the infrastructure sector should start to grow, underpinned by strong levels of the government investment. I’ll now run through each of the divisions and provide some detail of the half year performance as well as some of the operating highlights, starting with Building Products on Slide 12. Half year revenue was up 6%, profits were up 53% and margins improved significantly to 14.8%. Trading cash flows were also very strong, reflecting the working capital disciplines we’ve now been focused on in the last few years. However, the strong trading performance did overly reduce some inventory levels, and we expect to rebuild these over the coming half. Overall, it was a strong performance and there are a couple of operation highlights I’d call out. We saw a better contribution from our Steel business, which recorded profits of $18 million for the first half. We achieved increased market share in areas as we introduced new products and as customers show the preference for locally manufactured product and a more reliable supply chain that provides. And we commenced the on-site works for our new wallboard plant at Tauriko. Moving now to Distribution on Slide 13. Revenue grew across almost all regions, underpinned by good demand from the residential trades and consumer segments. Continued cost and efficiency initiatives delivered an improved EBIT margin of 7%, and this was despite the ongoing competitive price pressure in the industry. Trading cash flows were 6% ahead of the prior period. And within working capital, inventory days increased compared to the last half. And this was to ensure we had availability of key stock lines as international and local supply lines came under pressure. Operationally, we continue to be focused in the areas of e-commerce, digital, cluster fulfillment and efficiencies. And in line with this through the half, PlaceMakers released its Trade Portal and click and collect sites. Our delivery track and trace transport management system went live across our branch network, and we successfully moved to our regional distribution hub structures in Auckland and Christchurch across our PlaceMakers branches. In Concrete, on Slide 14, revenue was up 7% from strong cement volumes, market share gains and improved ready-mix in aggregates pricing. EBIT was up 27% and trading cash flow was strong at $88 million. And like Building Products, we expect a degree of inventory rebuild in the second half of the year. Through the half, we continued our focus on carbon reduction from our cement and concrete value chain. We completed our first trials of pozzolanic cement, which has the potential to produce concrete with a 30% to 50% less CO2 emissions. And through the start of the new year, we’ve completed the upgrades to our Portland Cement plant so it can now accept waste tires as a fuel alternative. On Slide 15, we consolidate the profit and margin progress we have made across our New Zealand core businesses, Building Products, Concrete and Distribution, over the last 3 years. Achieving performance and efficiency improvements across these businesses has been one of our key strategic focus areas, and to date, has included activities across pricing disciplines, product and range positioning, property footprint, supply chain and distribution rationalization and driving productivity improvements, resulting in a smaller and more effective workforce. The chart on the left breaks down where the 35% lift in half-on-half profits was achieved. Roughly 40% came from a combination of market volumes, price increases and market share improvements. And the other 60% came from a combination of operational performance and efficiency improvements. The chart on the right shows how this progress is now translating to improvements in our bottom line profit margins. Not only have we achieved a half-on-half margin improvement of 2.5%, we have also turned the tide on the medium-term margin compression we experienced across these businesses. While this work remains ongoing, we are now seeing some solid progress. Moving to Slide 16 in our New Zealand Residential and Development business. This business performed very strongly through the first half, driven by a strong residential housing market across New Zealand. Against this backdrop, our first half house sales were up on the previous year to 515, and prices were up on average around 5%. This, in turn, drove strong revenue, profit and cash performance for the half. Our Residential business remains well positioned with around 3,600 future lots under our control and circa 900 houses confirmed in our FY ’22 pipeline. Clever Core, our off-site manufacturing business, continues to ramp up, and our dedicated apartments team is now in place and working on scaling up this business in the medium term. The chart on the left of Slide 17 brings to life the strength of the Residential Housing performance, showing the half-on-half impact of the increased sales volumes and margins. Looking to the second half, we expect lower sales volumes in our Residential business as we rebuild stock. Overall, we expect to sell around 800 houses through the full FY ’21 year. Land development EBIT was $2 million for the half, $9 million lower than the prior period as the 2 key transactions for this financial year are scheduled to complete in the second half. These relate to the former Crane Copper Tube site in Sydney and the Rocla Gailes site in Brisbane. We expect earnings from the combined transaction to be around $40 million, which exceeds the $25 million per annum run rate we guide to for this business. Moving now to our New Zealand Construction business on Slide 18. Gross revenue was $651 million, and although 16% lower than the prior period, this was solely due to reduced work on legacy projects. Net of legacy projects, revenue was stable half-on-half. Profits were also stable half-on-half and was supported by strong margin performances in Higgins and Brian Perry Civil, continuing to be offset by the legacy infrastructure and building projects flowing through at new margin. Trading cash flows were lower in the half. And excluding the legacy outflows, trading cash for the division was an inflow of $30 million compared to an inflow of $10 million in the prior half. During the half, we handed over both Commercial Bay and the new based hospital to our customers, and we continue to progress our major infrastructure projects in line with their completion dates through calendar 2022. Slide 19 brings to life the Fletcher Construction forward order book. The chart on the left-hand side shows 2 key things. Firstly, the work to complete across the legacy portfolio is now $400 million, down from $600 million at June 30; and secondly, that we continue to make good progress building the forward order book, which now sits at around $3.2 billion. The forward order book number includes being nominated as Auckland Transport’s preferred contractor on the AMETI busway alliance project. This, we expect, will move to formal contract through 2021. It’s important to emphasize that this forward order book has much more — has a much more balanced risk profile and is made up predominantly of Alliance and longer-term maintenance contracts. This will support the Construction business returning to 3% to 5% EBIT margins as the new margin legacy projects complete. I’ll now move to our Australian division and start with a market update on Slide 21. The Australian market accounts for about 1/3 of our revenue, and of this, some 60% is exposed to the residential sector. Overall, residential work done trended down half-on-half, but we saw good activity across detached housing and renovations with an offsetting decline in the apartment space. Residential consenting activity began to stabilize during 2020 and has now moved to a growth in approval — has now moved to growth in approvals more recently. This is a positive signal, and together with the solid backdrop around the overall Australian economy, provides an encouraging outlook for residential through the second half and beyond. As expected, the commercial m
arket slowed down through the half. And while infrastructure trended slightly higher, we observed ongoing project delays, especially in the key water and gas sectors we’re exposed to. Looking ahead, we expect commercial to continue to be weighted to the downside with infrastructure remaining resilient. I’ll now move on to an overview of the first half performance across the Australian division on Slide 22. Revenue was about 4% lower as civil and infrastructure projects continue to be delayed, which flowed through to a direct impact on our Pipes businesses. Pleasingly, however, profits for the half were up 46% to $51 million and profitability lifted to 3.7%. This was achieved by improving performance across Laminex, Stramit, Tradelink and Fletcher Insulation. Trading cash flows were a positive $52 million compared to an outflow of $64 million in the prior half. This reflected ongoing improvements in inventory management and good data controls. Highlights through the half included: Tradelink continuing to grow sales into the key plumber trade segment by 4%. And our — excuse the noise in the background. I’ve got a construction site next to me. And our own brand product penetration now sitting at over 25% of front of wall sales; Laminex digital sales now represent 27% of all transactions; completion of the consolidation of the Fletcher Insulation manufacturing footprint to a single site in Dandenong, Victoria; and Stramit achieving strong share growth in higher-margin sheds segment. On Slide 23, we look at the profitability and trajectory of the Australian division. The left-hand chart brings to life the drivers of the 46% half-on-half profit improvements. In essence, we saw our costs and operational improvements dropping strongly through to the bottom line, offset in part by revenue weakness in our Pipes business due to project volumes staying low. On the right-hand chart, we show the good progress we’re making in Australia on improved overall profitability. The EBIT margin was 3.7% for the half compared to 2.4% for the same period last year. After 2 years of hard work by the team in Australia across all aspects of our business, it’s pleasing to see the bottom line benefit staying to flow through. That said, we still have much to work on and continue to plan to drive the profit performance of the division into at least the 5% to 7% range in the medium term. I’ll now hand over to Bevan, who will take you through the details of our financial results for the half. ——————————————————————————– Bevan McKenzie, Fletcher Building Limited – CFO [3] ——————————————————————————– Thanks, Ross, and good morning, everyone. Turning first to Slide 25, we show the group income statement. Ross has already talked to the key driver of the group’s underlying operating earnings, so the additional points to highlight here are further down the P&L. Significant items of $86 million were related to 2 areas: firstly, the final phase of our group restructuring program as flagged at last year’s annual results; and impairment of the Rocla business, which is now held for sale. I’ll provide more detail on these significant items later in the presentation. Funding costs of $23 million in this half were materially lower than the $35 million in the prior period. This resulted principally from the early exit of our USPP 2012 debt in July 2020, which has reduced our funding costs by $17 million per annum. Tax expense in the half was $57 million, and our effective tax rate, excluding the impact of significant items, was 26%. Going forward, we continue to expect the effective tax rate to track back to around 29%. We also expect to resume cash tax payments with respect to the New Zealand businesses in the second half of calendar 2022. Slide 26 provides a summary of the key drivers of earnings improvement in the first half of FY ’21. Overall, around 15% of the group’s EBIT uplift in this half has come from market-facing factors: volume, share and price, while around 85% is attributable to the net benefit of our improved operating efficiency. As Ross had noted, these efficiency benefits have come across all divisions and a result of the programs of work put in place over the past 3 years. For FY ’21, our target was to achieve a gross fixed cost reduction for the full year of $150 million, with the variable cost base to be flexed to the level of market activity. The net cost benefit of $87 million achieved in the first half is predominantly from fixed cost reductions, especially from manufacturing and supply chain optimization and reduced overhead labor costs. I’d highlight that these savings are net of some input cost inflation that we have seen in certain areas, for example, in energy and resin costs. We’re therefore confident that the gross cost-out benefits are meeting the targets we set on a run rate basis. For the balance of FY ’21, we expect the benefits from the efficiency programs to be broadly in line with those delivered in the first half. On Slide 27, we provide more detail on the quantum and phasing of significant items in F ’21. The top table shows our updated view of the P&L charges, and the lower table shows the timing of cash flows, those charges which were recorded in both F ’20 and F ’21. Firstly, with respect to restructuring costs, the solid market environment has meant less restructuring activity than previously planned. And we have also had lower cash costs on exiting certain of our properties. As a result, FY ’21 significant items are now expected to be P&L charges of around $65 million, down from the $90 million previously flagged. And FY ’21 cash outflows are expected to be around $95 million, down from previous guidance of around $140 million. The second part of significant items incurred in this half relate to a noncash impairment for the Rocla business, which is held for sale. We are currently in the latter stage of our divestment process, with completion still targeted by the end of F ’21. Based on a reassessment of the likely proceeds through our half year review, we’ve impaired the business by $51 million. This leaves the remaining operational funds base for the business of $76 million. I note that this excludes the property assets in Sydney and Brisbane, which as we said last year, are being developed and sold separately by our Land Development business. Slide 28 has more detail on the strong group cash flow performance. As shown in the middle of the table in the highlighted line, underlying trading cash flows improved materially to $516 million in the half. This was driven by a combination of improved operating earnings as well as favorable working capital movements, which I’ll provide more detail on in the next slide. Further down the table, there were also low cash outflows on the legacy construction projects as they near completion. Overall, this has resulted in cash flows from operating activities for the group of $428 million, which is a significant uplift on the $5 million outflow in the prior half. On Slide 29, we provide more detail on the key drivers of working capital. Starting in the top table, the large number of house sales settlements in our Residential and Development business contributed to a $50 million cash inflow, with the underlying Construction business also delivering a positive working capital position this half. In the core Manufacturing and Distribution division, the key feature was effective management of receivables and inventories. This led to the working capital cycle in these businesses improving by 7.6 days. As Ross has mentioned, we do expect a level of inventory growth in the second half of the year as resilient stocks are rebuilt in some areas of the New Zealand core businesses. This may be an impact on the order of $25 million to $50 million above normal seasonality in the second half. Once this normalization has occurred, we consider that working capital in the core divisions is now well positioned and efficient, with material additional cash release unlikely. On a like-for-like basis, the workin
g capital cycle in the core divisions has improved by around 10 days in the past 3 years, which is well ahead of the target of 5 days improvement that we set in June 2018. Slide 30 shows the capital expenditure in the half was $68 million, which included some receipts from asset disposals from the period. Around 70% of our CapEx in this half was on maintenance investment, predominantly on manufacturing plants in our core products businesses. It included $31 million for the new Winstone wallboards plasterboard facility, which we expect to commission in 2023. The remaining 30% of CapEx in this half was on strategic growth initiatives. (technical difficulty) on digital remains a key priority as well as investments in more modern and sustainable manufacturing, for example, an upgrade to our Humes Pipes business in Auckland and also the tire-derived fuel facility in Golden Bay Cement. For the full year, we continue to expect CapEx to be approximately $200 million. The other key point to highlight is that as we’ve reviewed the group’s medium-term CapEx needs, we are now confident that the group’s underlying CapEx envelope will be in a range of around $200 million to $250 million from FY ’22 on. This is substantially lower than the annual run rate expenditure of approximately $300 million in recent periods. We’ve said in the past 3 years that once these investments that were made to improve the quality of key assets were complete, CapEx would track back closer to depreciation, and we are now confident that we’re at that point. I’d note that this guidance for future CapEx does exclude the remainder of the one-off investment in the Wallboards plant, which is expected to be around $220 million next year and around $100 million in FY ’23. Turning to Slide 31, we show the net debt bridge for the half. Strong underlying trading cash flows, partly offset by legacy projects and significant items cash flows resulted in our net debt position reducing materially to $269 million. As you’ll see on the next slide, Slide 32, this has translated to leverage of 0.4x. While this is below the group’s target range of 1 to 2x, our target capital structure takes into account remaining investment in the Winstone wallboards plant as well as the remaining legacy construction outflows. Accounting for these cash outflows, (technical difficulty) over the next 2 years. We will continue to maintain a preference for prudent balance sheet metrics as we execute the group’s strategy. Slide 33 shows the maturity and liquidity profile of our funding sources. We continue to make excellent progress in resetting our balance sheet. During the half year, we completed the early repayment of our highest-cost source of debt from the USPP. This has reduced our funding cost by $17 million per annum and has reduced the average interest rate on the group’s debt materially to 4%. As we look ahead to the full year, we expect FY ’21 funding costs to be around $55 million. Following the USPP repayment, we continue to have available debt facilities of $1.8 billion. These facilities have good tenor with around 90% maturing in F ’23 and beyond. And finally, total liquidity for the group remains strong at $1.5 billion. On Slide 34, as Ross has noted, the group will pay an interim dividend of $0.12 per share on the 24th of March. In June last year, we updated our banking agreements to enable the company to rely on more favorable terms for covenant testing through to the end of 2021, if required. These amendments provided for lower interest cover ratios and a normalization of fourth quarter FY ’20 EBIT. Importantly, this put us in a strong position to navigate an uncertain period and focus on business performance with our spending line secured. As part of this agreement, the company committed to not pay a dividend until it returned to compliance with, and agreed to be tested by, its normal covenants. Given the very strong performance in the half, the company has, this month, been able to put in place an updated agreement with our lenders. This allows for payment of an interim dividend while retaining the ability to rely on the more favorable covenant terms, if required, until the end of this financial year. We appreciate the flexibility shown by our lenders in this regard. Given that the group does not currently have tax credits available, the interim FY ’21 dividend will be unimputed and unfranked. And finally, as Ross has noted, the Board does expect to be in a position to pay a final FY ’21 dividend later this year. On Slide 35, we provide a summary of the half year performance, contributing to the group’s financial strength and our focus as we look ahead. We’re seeing the clear benefits in this half in both New Zealand and Australia of the performance improvement and efficiency programs put in place over the past 3 years. This has led to savings through more efficient supply chains and manufacturing facilities and a reduced overhead base. The result is a substantial uplift in margins in the period to around 8% across the group, and we will continue to target group EBIT margins of around 10% in FY ’23. Our ROCE target of 15% is on track to be achieved this year. Working capital management is now robust across the business. And while we expect a degree of inventory rebuild in the second half of FY ’21, working capital overall is now at efficient levels in the group, and we have materially outperformed the targets set 3 years ago. Our CapEx program in the past 3 years has been a key contributor to our improved operating efficiency. And we’re now at a point where we can reduce underlying capital expenditure to a range of $200 million to $250 million in the medium term, much closer to underlying depreciation. Our capital structure is well positioned with $1.5 billion liquidity, good tenor on our funding lines, leveraged towards the bottom end of our target range and low funding costs. This provides a strong foundation to continue to execute our strategy, driving performance and growth in the medium term. Finally, we are pleased that the group’s strong performance and a revised agreement with our lenders has enabled the group to return to dividend payments earlier than expected in this half. I’ll now hand back to Ross to provide the final summary and outlook for the year ahead. ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [4] ——————————————————————————– Thanks, Bevan. Moving to Slide 37, I’ll briefly turn to the outlook across our markets and our businesses. Looking ahead, we expect an ongoing solid market in New Zealand and Australia for the second half, with core volumes remaining at current levels and good ongoing demand for residential housing in New Zealand, in particular. Activity since we started back in the New Year has been a bit slower as the trade seemed to have taken a bit of a longer January break. However, as we get into February, demand and volumes seem to be normalizing back to expected levels and in line with what the market macro indicators are telling us. We have seen some supply chain disruption, but we are managing this well. On earnings, we expect the FY ’21 full year EBIT to be in the range of $610 million to $660 million. Within this, we have a stronger-than-usual first quarter in our New Zealand core and residential businesses. And this means that group earnings will be less weighted to the second half than in previous years. We also expect the efficiency benefits that we’ve been achieving so far to be broadly steady across the year. The only caveat on this is that there are no major COVID-19 shocks. To date, partial lockdowns in New Zealand and the Australian states have been manageable and not overly impacted our performance. But any long-dated or higher-level lockdown of the construction industry would clearly have an impact. Finally, we look forward to catching up at our Investor Day in May, where we’ll provide a further update on market activity and trading performance. With that, I’d now like to hand back to the moderator to allow us to
take questions. ================================================================================ Questions and Answers ——————————————————————————– Operator [1] ——————————————————————————– (Operator Instructions) Your first question comes from Lee Power from CLSA. ——————————————————————————– Lee Power, CLSA Limited, Research Division – Research Analyst [2] ——————————————————————————– Ross, is it just possible to step through that guidance range that you mentioned, the $610 million to $660 million? I just kind of struggle to get there when you think current indicators point to (inaudible) volumes, you’ve got cost out. It seems very weighted to the first half at the bottom end of the range. So just be good to get a little more clarity around how you get to that range, if possible. ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [3] ——————————————————————————– Yes. Look, I’ll give you a little bit at the helicopter level. Look, firstly, I pointed to in my comments that we had a very strong — coming out of the COVID lockdowns, we had an unusually strong July, August. First quarter, usually, it’s a bit more subdued. So that was one indicator. The second thing — and the second thing I’d say also is that the key variable in — sorry, the second thing I’d say is that trading days in the second half are a bit shorter. You’ve got more holidays. You’ve got the Anzac Easter sort of breaks so you do end up with a reduced number of trading days in the way the holidays are falling through this year. And then really what you get to at the end of the day when you step right back is that between the bottom and the top of the range, it really just comes down to volumes. I mean what we can’t quite predict is we don’t get 0 impact from the state shutdowns or the lockdowns. It does have some impact, and those subdue things a bit. So what will really drive it between the bottom and the top of the range is just what the volumes do, and that will be a little bit predicated on how many clusters emerge and how many sort of interim shutdowns occur. So it’ll be my main comments. I don’t know, Bevan, would you add anything to that? ——————————————————————————– Bevan McKenzie, Fletcher Building Limited – CFO [4] ——————————————————————————– Yes. Just slightly different lens on the same point, Ross, is that the typical driver of the second half weighting of the group or the biggest driver has been Residential and Development, which if you think that in the past, the group has sort of had 53%, 54% second half earnings. Given those very strong house sales in the first half, you’ve got much more first half weighting in that respect. So that’s, Lee, leading us more towards — if you take the midpoint of guidance, more towards a 50-50 split for FY ’21. ——————————————————————————– Lee Power, CLSA Limited, Research Division – Research Analyst [5] ——————————————————————————– Okay, yes. And then just on Residential, you touched on how strong the market is. Can you just remind us of the lots you have under control and how comfortable you feel replenishing them as you kind of track towards that 1,000 houses an annum target? ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [6] ——————————————————————————– Yes. So we have around 3,600 under control. And when we look towards FY ’22, what you’re always doing now is if you don’t have the lots under control and you don’t have the sections coming through planning, you’re not going to do it. So we’re very confident. We’ve got complete visibility of around 900 houses in FY ’22, which are basically locked and loaded. And I made that point in the presentation. And so — and we’re managing quite effectively to keep building what they call that longer-dated future to keep that momentum to sort of the 1,000. So we think we’ll do about 800 this year. We’ve got locked and loaded for 900 next year, and we’ve got 3,600 in total under our control. ——————————————————————————– Lee Power, CLSA Limited, Research Division – Research Analyst [7] ——————————————————————————– And then finally, just on Australia. I mean you’ve obviously got a longer-run EBIT target out there. I mean how do you — how comfortable do you feel about tracking towards that because the recovery seems quite good thus far? ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [8] ——————————————————————————– Yes. We’re very confident. I mean we’ve maintained the fact that we’re targeting — when we go right back 2.5 years, we will have a 5% to 7% target in — by FY ’23. That’s the target we remain on. I mean — and it’s just nice to now see those improvements flowing through and you can see evidence of it. I mean there’s been a fair bit of cynicism around that goal. And I think it’s a good first step, and we’re seeing the performance — or the things we have done, the cost-out and the general performance, it’s been a long, hard 2 years staying to flow through. So I’m quite bullish with the trajectory we’re now on. And where we feels like where the residential market is going to go, that we should have a very high degree of probability to pull off that sort of margins performance across that business in the next couple of years. ——————————————————————————– Operator [9] ——————————————————————————– Your next question comes from Simon Thackray from Jefferies. ——————————————————————————– Simon Thackray, Jefferies LLC, Research Division – Equity Analyst [10] ——————————————————————————– Ross, you made a comment about the sort of slightly slower start to the year. January, February feels like a bit of a COVID hangover, to be honest with you. I think people were pretty weary after ’20. That was being seen both sides of the ditch. You did mention things are starting to return to normal now, which is terrific. But how do you think — in the strength of the Residential pipeline on both sides of the ditch, how are you thinking about industry capacity and inflation in — on both sides, in particular? Can I start with that? ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [11] ——————————————————————————– Yes, sure. So we did see that dynamic both sides. And I think everyone just took a bit of a longer break so that’s — but what we’re now seeing as we get into later part of February and through all the various holidays, that we’re sort of back to where we thought we’d be. When we look at inflation, what’s really driving it to date has been where supply chains got tight or where commodities have actually increased. And some of that might be resins, it might be steel. But given the environment we’re in, what we’re finding is the ability to pass price on as being quite strong. So we’re seeing, therefore, to the extent we get inflationary issues, we’re able to take price just because, particularly in the residential sector, it’s quite busy. So that’s sort of the dynamic we’re experiencing right now. ———————————————————
———————– Simon Thackray, Jefferies LLC, Research Division – Equity Analyst [12] ——————————————————————————– Okay, that’s very helpful. And just noting in Australia, your expectations for ongoing softer civil and commercial activity, which is about 40% of the Aussie revenue. How does — if I may, how does the margin compare in those sectors versus the resi market as we do look at this very strong pipeline of new housing and renovations in Australia? ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [13] ——————————————————————————– Yes. Look, I mean, it’s a bit frustrating. I mean what we’re finding in our Pipes business now, given we’re selling Rocla, I’ll just focus on Iplex, is we’ve put a lot of work into getting that reset. For the first time, what we’re seeing resins going up so we’re actually able to take price in there. So we’re seeing more same behavior amongst the competitive set, which is good. But what we are also seeing is we are doing a lot of project pricing. So what we just haven’t seen in the Iplex business and as the project work, we’re seeing a lot of pricing. We’re doing a lot. So it’s all out there, but it just hasn’t started converting. So the real outlook for us — so Iplex has sort of been a burden. It’s lost a bit of money through the first half. As soon as that project work starts flipping in, then we’d expect that business to move quite quickly. It’s just hard to predict when it starts to flow. Everything tells you it should start to flow, but we just haven’t seen it yet. And if pricing levels or what we’re — it’s obviously a pricing indication. Hopefully, it’s sooner rather than later, but we’re sort of not baking that in yet. We want to see it before we start forecasting it. ——————————————————————————– Simon Thackray, Jefferies LLC, Research Division – Equity Analyst [14] ——————————————————————————– Okay, that’s helpful. And can I just swap across to the guidance in terms of the wallboard expansion, Bevan? CapEx, I believe, was $31 million for the wallboard expansion in the first half, and yet the full year guidance is $50 million of CapEx. I’m just wondering why the slowdown in second half ’21, sort of $19 million in the second half, maybe that’s just project scheduling. And with the $220 million target in FY ’22, what does the first half/second half split look like for the wallboard expansion? ——————————————————————————– Bevan McKenzie, Fletcher Building Limited – CFO [15] ——————————————————————————– You characterized F ’21 very well, Simon. It’s just timing of payments is determining the sort of $30 million in the first half, $20 million in the second. If you look into FY ’22, we’ll be going full steam, both on the construction of the building and the warehousing and distribution as well as our supplier on the plant. That’s going to be broadly even split in ’22 between the first and the second half. It will depend, of course, a little bit on progress on site. But at the moment, broadly evenly split. It’s the right way to think about. ——————————————————————————– Simon Thackray, Jefferies LLC, Research Division – Equity Analyst [16] ——————————————————————————– Okay, that’s helpful. And then just finally, if I may. Appreciating you’ve delivered substantially on your $300 million gross cost-out. There’s always a bit of confusion between what’s gross, what’s net and what the run rates are first and second half. But I also want to understand if and when you see additional opportunity in the event that the cycle sort of stalls or flatlines from here. Hello? ——————————————————————————– Bevan McKenzie, Fletcher Building Limited – CFO [17] ——————————————————————————– Sorry, Ross. Ross, do you want to take that or I’ll jump in? ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [18] ——————————————————————————– You take it, sorry. I’ll answer the question (inaudible) but you got this one. Sorry, my apologies. I thought we’d lost someone. Okay. ——————————————————————————– Simon Thackray, Jefferies LLC, Research Division – Equity Analyst [19] ——————————————————————————– I thought I’d lost myself. ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [20] ——————————————————————————– Apologies. Different locations. ——————————————————————————– Bevan McKenzie, Fletcher Building Limited – CFO [21] ——————————————————————————– The perspective I’ll give you, Simon, is that we’ve got really good control of that fixed cost base now and we know where the additional opportunities are. In the past, we’ve pointed to additional work in property that we continue to work on, but it’s a bit tough to get and takes a little bit a little bit longer. I think then it’s all going to be about control of the variable base to the extent that the market moves. And again, what you’ve seen through this period is that where we have had a bit of downside of the market in Australia, we’ve been able to flex the variable to that. So I guess across both dimensions, we get comfort that should we need to move further, we have the ability to adapt to the market. ——————————————————————————– Simon Thackray, Jefferies LLC, Research Division – Equity Analyst [22] ——————————————————————————– Okay, I understand that. So just to be perfectly clear, of the $87 million — where am I, the $87 million, from memory, in the first half. Is that likely to be similar in the second half? ——————————————————————————– Bevan McKenzie, Fletcher Building Limited – CFO [23] ——————————————————————————– Yes. Similar on a growth basis. Obviously, when you compare the 2 halves, you need to look at the base that you’re building off, and we already had a bit of savings built into the second half of FY ’20. But on a run rate basis, the growth is quite similar. And to give you some more color, Simon, the fixed and variable split of that $87 million, it’s about 70% fixed — 70%, 75% fixed and around 1/4 variable. So as I said, it’s mainly the fixed cost base which is delivering those improvements. ——————————————————————————– Operator [24] ——————————————————————————– Your next question comes from Brook Campbell-Crawford from JPMorgan. ——————————————————————————– Brook Campbell-Crawford, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Research Division – Analyst [25] ——————————————————————————– Just back on the EBIT margin target in Australia of 5% to 7%. Ross, just sounded like you were talking about a strong market really to underpin improvement further in margin. If I could just clarify if that’s what you meant, and just to start off within — on the pipeline as well? ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [26] ———————-
———————————————————- No. Look, I mean, obviously, any market improvements in volumes help because you — once you get your cost base down, you leverage the upside. And we always assume eventually, residential will start growing, we’ll get a bit of — and I think there’ll be a bit of a tailwind there. But fundamentally, what we’re doing in there is all around just doing the businesses cleaned up and positioned and running well. And what you’re seeing, we actually have achieved this margin expansion against — it’s been a falling market broadly through this half. And so that gets us in a good place. And we’ve basically got activities across each business around whether it’s ongoing continuing focus around operational improvements, whether it’s on the pricing, whether it’s on the product positioning and sort of some of the adjacencies we can play in, so broadly and focusing on where our margins are more healthier. And you can sort of see that in Stramit where the emphasis has gone to the sheds business, which is higher margin and that’s where we’ve seen the growth. So the go-forward momentum there is fundamentally around more of the same. And we’re hopeful, though, that we do see some — the project work, say, in Iplex come through because without it, that’s going to get stuck in a hard place. Eventually, that will come through. So that will require some of the market to actually drive that growth at the speed we want. But broadly, we should continue to see improvement off the back of the volumes we’ve got, plus we should get a bit of improvement beyond that with the growth market. And the stronger the market grows, then it will take us to the upper end of that margin range and maybe beyond it, but yes. So that’s how I think about it. It’s always sort of, say, 5% to 7%. We should get to 5% base. And if the market is a bit of a trend, we should be at the 7%-plus range. ——————————————————————————– Brook Campbell-Crawford, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Research Division – Analyst [27] ——————————————————————————– Okay, that’s very clear. And just back on your comments on January. It sounds like that’s a little slow. Are you able to provide any sort of figures or quantify what the shortfall was in January? It’s even probably a quiet month, in general, but trying to understand how significant that slower start to the year. ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [28] ——————————————————————————– Not at all. I mean it’s — we actually — what — it’s not so much the quantum of the impact we always expect. We’re never really sure what’s going to happen in December and January. And in this December, the way — if you look at our half year result, we guided to a range and we did a bit better than that because December, the trade seemed — worked really strongly right up to the death. And you’re never really sure when they’ll go on leave. And what the consequence of that almost was is that those because of January, they seem to take about a week or just start slower. And it’s not really — it doesn’t move the dial a lot. It might be $5 million, $10 million here or there. What we’re more concerned about is looking at the run rate. So it’s not so much the absolute quantums of January. It’s more, the longer it doesn’t get back to, what I call full run rate, then it starts to cause a hangover through the year. So what we’re always focused on is, okay, what January is plus or minus, whatever it is, but how does February start? And do we have good momentum towards the end of February? Because our big trading month in March, particularly is an important trading month for us. And Easter — April is always a bit sloppy because of Easter and Anzac. And then May, June. So that’s — so it’s more a run rate. So that’s what I pointed to is that the run rates are now where we thought they’d be, which is what we were looking for and would have expected. ——————————————————————————– Operator [29] ——————————————————————————– Your next question comes from Andrew Scott from Morgan Stanley. ——————————————————————————– Andrew Geoffrey Scott, Morgan Stanley, Research Division – Executive Director [30] ——————————————————————————– Just want to go back to the cost-out and maybe touch on something a bit adjacent to what Simon was talking about. And firstly, I mean, well done, and very few of our companies have actually taken the opportunity to take meaningful cost out of the business. So I just want to explore that a little bit. And there’s a couple of comments I’m struggling to reconcile. You’ve — generally, with these programs, we expect them to ramp up and to maybe exit with a run rate that’s ahead of what you might have delivered in a backward-looking period. And I note that you’ve continued to spend on restructuring in this period and you flagged this some next period. So I’m just struggling to reconcile that with the comment that the cost-out program is largely complete and first half will broadly equal second half. I know you had something from last year, but I’m just struggling to bring those comments together. I would have thought you should be having some further momentum as we go forward. ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [31] ——————————————————————————– Right. Andrew, I’ll let Bevan, he’s the reconciler in charge so he can put some color on it for you. ——————————————————————————– Bevan McKenzie, Fletcher Building Limited – CFO [32] ——————————————————————————– Yes. The perspective I would bring, Andrew, is that we did the lion’s share of this work. I pointed in the past to a figure around 80% or 90% in the period as we entered into this financial year. So May and June last year, that was kind of the major area of activity. And then if you look at the balance of the work that we have done here, they’ve given us a little bit further improvement. But in the overall scheme, it’s not material between the first and second half split. So it was really the fact that we got cracking through May and June. We got the work done. And then as we entered into this year, we were largely there. And then I guess the other variable, as you know, as the prior question pointed to, there is some offsets there that we’re dealing with, and we’ve factored those into the second half in terms of the guiding, I guess, to a net impact of those benefits. ——————————————————————————– Andrew Geoffrey Scott, Morgan Stanley, Research Division – Executive Director [33] ——————————————————————————– Okay. Maybe just one more on that then. Could you just give us some color on the $35 million, I think it was, that was spent this year and the $30 million that come in the second half and just where that is targeted and why there isn’t necessarily a further benefit attached to that? ——————————————————————————– Bevan McKenzie, Fletcher Building Limited – CFO [34] ——————————————————————————– We’ve pointed in the past, Andrew, that’s been related to a couple of the major rationalizations in Australia, so in Iplex and Fletcher Insulation specifically. The way those work through the cost base of those business, they won’t move massively because we’ll continue to supply out of additional locations. So there is some benefit but again, relative to that overall $150 million, wh
ich is the gross [6] that we have pointed to. They’re not massive movements. They happen to be big numbers in terms of the shutdown costs because they are major plants that we have — that we’ve rationalized there. So that’s the reason for, I guess, for that disconnect and the cost to the benefits coming through. ——————————————————————————– Andrew Geoffrey Scott, Morgan Stanley, Research Division – Executive Director [35] ——————————————————————————– Okay, got it. And then secondly, Bevan, you’ve done a great job again on cash and balance sheet position is great. In the presentation, you say you expect to move to the lower end of the target range of 1 to 2x in FY ’22 to FY ’23. I know you called out construction cash flows and wallboard. But I think on my numbers, at least, it seems pretty hard to get there. Are there any other lumpy cash flow items we should be aware of? Because that seems a pretty conservative forecast. ——————————————————————————– Bevan McKenzie, Fletcher Building Limited – CFO [36] ——————————————————————————– So those are the 2 — you’re absolutely right, those are the 2 big lumpy ones. There’s nothing beyond that, and I’ve pointed to ongoing run rate CapEx getting closer to that underlying depreciation. The number I get, as we look at it, Andrew, there’s roughly $400 million of cash outflow to come between wallboards and the legacy construction projects, and that’s worth between 0.4 and 0.5 of a turn on the leverage ratio. So that’s what gets back. You’re at that lower end of the range around, call it, 0.9, so right near the bottom end of the 1 to 2x range. ——————————————————————————– Andrew Geoffrey Scott, Morgan Stanley, Research Division – Executive Director [37] ——————————————————————————– Okay. And I guess the crux of the question was, if we are sitting below or at the bottom end of the range, do we start talking capital management? ——————————————————————————– Bevan McKenzie, Fletcher Building Limited – CFO [38] ——————————————————————————– I think the thing that’s been most important to us, Andrew, is to get those dividends flowing again. That was very important to us and we did some good work with the lenders through the past months to enable that. And then on broader capital management, we’ll continue to review the capital structure. We’ve said we want it to be positioned towards the bottom end. If over the medium term, we end up lower than that, we’ll need to review that, of course. But for the moment, we feel like we’re tracking to where we said we would, which is again about the bottom end of the target range. ——————————————————————————– Andrew Geoffrey Scott, Morgan Stanley, Research Division – Executive Director [39] ——————————————————————————– Okay, understood. I’m going to sneak one more in if I can. Ross, just quickly, Rocla, obviously, the write-down. I understand the initial decision to explore a sale. But on the books for only $70 million, I thought there might be an argument here that Fletcher Building could add more than just the sale proceeds if they were to run that business and get it running a bit better. Is there something you think that is pushing you out the door even at that much lower expected proceeds? ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [40] ——————————————————————————– Look, our view is we will continue on the path of selling it. And I don’t think that level of — where we’ve put the level to changes our view on it. So we will continue with the sale process, basically, is the short answer. ——————————————————————————– Operator [41] ——————————————————————————– Your next question comes from Stephen Hudson from Macquarie Securities. ——————————————————————————– Stephen Hudson, Macquarie Research – Head of Research [42] ——————————————————————————– Just a couple of quick ones from me. Just firstly on Clever Core, I just wondered if you could give us an idea about how large that business could be, say, in the next 2 years, and what sort of land bank you might need to support that level of activity. Secondly, I just wondered if you could comment on what you’re seeing in terms of imported competing product. We’re sort of seeing wallboard, for instance, falling off, but sort of some of the break bulk volumes coming on unabated. So I just wondered how you saw generally the import parity pricing pressure at the moment, whether or not it’s getting better or worse. And then just lastly, the 30-day-plus outage at Golden Bay Cement, can you sort of size what the cost of that might have been? ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [43] ——————————————————————————– Sure, okay. On Clever Core, so we did about 34, I think, houses this first half, Stephen, and then where we expect to be. And the last couple of years, it’s all been about getting it refined and working well. And I won’t bore you with all the complexes that, but we’re sort of hitting our straps now from the whole process and design through the delivery and installation. So we expect to be at a run rate of above 100 per annum by the time we get to May, June in this coming calendar year. What we’ve always assumed looking at our own housing stock, we believe about 1/3 of the houses we build will be suitable to what Clever Core does. So if we’re doing 900 next year, we’d start to try and push it up to the 200s, 250s as we work through the year in a run rate. Also, what we’re looking to do in FY ’22 is start to sell externally because we’ll have proven our model up and have a lot of confidence in our pricing points and our capacity to deliver. So I’m quite bullish about the outlook, both within our own portfolio as well as external. Because I think as we’ve refined it, we’ve got quite a compelling offer there and product there. So that’s sort of the plan of that. And that’s where we’re heading on that. On the import because there’s always pressure from imports, but what’s happened a little bit, and I sort of alluded to it, and there’s been a lot of topical conversations just with basically congestion of ports and just particularly containers, there has been a bit of a less pressure because people are looking more at locally produced products as a result of that. But obviously, we still have to struggle sometimes with our own sort of PlaceMakers, our own container shipments. So we’ve had to increase inventory there. So where are you on those sorts of products, local sort of got a preference? Where it’s bulk, we’re not finding any real problems bringing bulk stuff in. So people are buying an entire ship. That’s less problematic. So we’re not seeing too much competition abating in those style of imports. But if anything, if I have to step right back, it’s probably — there is a preference for local supply chains as that pressures come up. And on the Golden Bay Cement, the shutdown to put the tire-derived fuel in, I think it was about $3 million, $3.5 million is probably the impact. Is that — Bevan, is that correct? I think that sort of order of magnitude. ——————————————————————————– Bevan McKenzie, Fletcher Building Limited – CFO [44] ——————————————————
————————– It’s spot on. It’s $3.5 million impact, which flowed into the January numbers as a result of that charge. ——————————————————————————– Operator [45] ——————————————————————————– Your next question comes from Rohan Koreman-Smit from Forsyth Barr. ——————————————————————————– Rohan Koreman-Smit, Forsyth Barr Group Ltd., Research Division – Research Analyst [46] ——————————————————————————– Hopefully just a couple of quick ones. Firstly, on the cash impairments difference, what’s the large driver in the change there? Just seems like a very big move. And then second, CapEx was very low. I think it was $50 million down year-on-year at a gross level. Should we expect CapEx to come in at the top end of the range? And in FY ’22, you’re getting $200 million to $250 million as a bit of a catch-up. And third, do you have any color on how much it’s going to cost to kind of restock the resi land bank? It looks pretty thin once you take out 400 for the second half of this year and then 900 for ’22. You’re kind of down to 2 years’ supply of your kind of target run rate. ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [47] ——————————————————————————– Look, I’ll start with the last one and let Bevan answer the other 2 on cash impairments and CapEx ranges. On the restocking, we’ve always said, what we’re — what we’ve said is we want to hold that business into a CapEx envelope of $750 million. So that’s sort of the amount of balance sheet you want there. So I still remain comfortable we can do that even as we scale up some of the other elements of it, kind of the apartment side and other thing. So while it’s certainly down a little bit now and because we’ve actually got a lot of stocking, a lot of it is not — a lot of our capital, that envelope, is not in the land. It actually ends up being in the work-in-progress in the houses. That’s the far larger majority of it as we — again, because we’ve been selling so much stock, that’s where a lot of the capital has been freed up more so there than on the land we control. So the real dynamic there is I’m quite comfortable about our ability to restock land, both in what we’re sourcing and within that constraint. And the real dynamic you’ve seen through this half and this year around is just — we’ve basically been selling stock very quickly. So the rebuild in capital and there have been more around just having stock for sale as we start to build up for next year. Bevan, do you want to grab the other 2? ——————————————————————————– Bevan McKenzie, Fletcher Building Limited – CFO [48] ——————————————————————————– Sure. So on the cash cost of the significant items, the 2 reasons why they’re low, the 2 key drivers of the cash-out of those are redundancies and then cost to exit properties. The redundancies have been lower because, as we pointed to, market environment as being better than we flagged at the full year, and therefore, we’ve had fewer redundancies. And the variable part of our cost base is being one driver. And the second driver, as I say, we’ve just done better on exiting the properties than we had expected to. So that’s what’s improving the cash number there. On the CapEx range, we said coming into this year that we’d spend $175 million to $200 million in FY ’21. And we’re going to come in towards the top end of that because we’ve obviously been in a better environment, and we’ve had some good opportunities to go after. For FY ’22, too early to say. We’re running through our budgeting process at the moment, and we’ll look at the detailed opportunity. Again, the key point is that we’re confident it will be between $200 million to $250 million because some of those larger catch-up investments that we had to make were through that piece now. ——————————————————————————– Operator [49] ——————————————————————————– Your next question comes from Marcus Curley from UBS. ——————————————————————————– Marcus Curley, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division – Executive Director and Head of New Zealand Research [50] ——————————————————————————– Just a few for me. I just wondered if you can talk more specifically to what you’re seeing with building materials pricing in New Zealand at the moment. I suppose industry commentary would suggest that they’re running pretty hot. I just wondered what you are putting through as a starting point. ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [51] ——————————————————————————– Yes. So I don’t want to debate what hot means. But the environment we’re in… ——————————————————————————– Marcus Curley, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division – Executive Director and Head of New Zealand Research [52] ——————————————————————————– Double digit. ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [53] ——————————————————————————– Which is quite different is — yes. No, that’s not everywhere. I mean I don’t agree with the double digit, to be honest. We’re certainly taking price, and I wouldn’t say that when you get to the big commodity lines, double digit at all. So I think that’s not correct. You’re certainly taking price and we’re certainly taking price above what I call the input costs, but that’s not everywhere. I mean if we look at a classic example is we haven’t been able to take any price on our roof shedding. So it’s just not — that’s not quite correct. Certainly, at the broad level, I’d characterize it as you’re able to take price at better than what the costs are. So you’re seeing some margin expansion in there is how I would talk about. ——————————————————————————– Marcus Curley, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division – Executive Director and Head of New Zealand Research [54] ——————————————————————————– And could you just touch a little bit specifically on steel? Yes, obviously, that’s been a big mover for yourselves. How much do you contribute to higher prices relative to you’re holding on to inventory as a component of that recovery? And hence, how sustainable do you think the steel EBIT performance is? ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [55] ——————————————————————————– Okay. So with steel, I mean, I’m very comfortable it’s nothing to do with inventory repricing. I mean one of the issues we had to deal with in cleaning that business up was actually around those disciplines and get them very robust that we weren’t taking revals of stock to profit as the main profit generator. So that we put ourselves through that pain this time last year, basically. So what we’re seeing, the result there is a very clean result. So it’s driven by actual operating profits and not revals. And the other thing we’re seeing in the market is behaving more sensibly. There’s not as big volume gain going on. I think the disciplines we’re seeing from competition is more around sensible pricing. And I don’t mean there’s always competition, but it’s not — there’s no silly stuff going on so you’re able to run the business sensibly
now. And we’ve got, as I said, no issues of what I call inventory revals flowing through our numbers. ——————————————————————————– Marcus Curley, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division – Executive Director and Head of New Zealand Research [56] ——————————————————————————– And secondly, I think you’ve touched on this. But can I just confirm, with the ongoing chatter around supply chain restrictions in New Zealand or impacting New Zealand, in your forecast, you’re not incorporating or not expecting to see any material impact in the second half from those? ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [57] ——————————————————————————– No. We’re actually confident in managing it. And there’s areas where it’s tight. And ultimately, that will keep a lid on what I call how fast growth will go. Bevan, do you want to pick this up? I’ve just got this saw going on the back. I’m sorry. ——————————————————————————– Bevan McKenzie, Fletcher Building Limited – CFO [58] ——————————————————————————– I guess the way we’d characterize that, Marcus, we’ve been on the front foot and managing this. And Ross alluded in the presentation to some advanced positions we’ve taken in the Distribution business, where, I guess, the pressure has been most acute, as you’ve got container delays into the country and then some of the local supply lines. So that’s why we say, to this point, we think we’ve done a pretty good job in getting on the front foot and managing it effectively. We just point to that because if it does deteriorate further, and obviously, with — in particular, the New Zealand market running stronger, that’s the sort of thing that can slow things down and have a volume or a top line impact. But for the moment, again, we’ve been managing through it effectively. ——————————————————————————– Marcus Curley, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division – Executive Director and Head of New Zealand Research [59] ——————————————————————————– And Bevan, just one last one for you. So from what I gather, you referenced a $400 million, including legacy projects. So by default, that’s about $80-odd million to go on cash flow out on legacy projects? ——————————————————————————– Bevan McKenzie, Fletcher Building Limited – CFO [60] ——————————————————————————– Yes, that’s exactly right, Marcus. We — at full year ’20 results, we said there was about $175 million of construction cash to flow on the legacy project. You’ve had just over $100 million in the first half, so the delta is what is remaining. ——————————————————————————– Operator [61] ——————————————————————————– Your next question comes from Keith Chau from MST Marquee. ——————————————————————————– Keith Chau, MST Marquee – Building Materials & Packaging Analyst [62] ——————————————————————————– A couple of follow-up questions or maybe one follow-up question on the outage in the Portland Cement plant. Just wondering, so the cost of $3.5 million, but there are expected to be some benefits from that project. Can you characterize what those benefits could be on an annualized basis once that project is complete? ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [63] ——————————————————————————– Look, the benefits are in what I call, fuel savings and that order of magnitude of $1 million, just over $1 million. And — but what we really get is we reduce carbon. So we — so I think it’s about 30,000 tonnes a year of carbon. And also, we — from the country’s point of view, we’re consuming around about 3.3 million of New Zealand’s 5 million per annum waste tires. So we’re sort of consuming and getting rid of, in a clear environmental way, of about 50% of the waste tire streams. So it gives us some economic benefit, but it’s actually as much about reducing carbon and the environmental outcomes. ——————————————————————————– Keith Chau, MST Marquee – Building Materials & Packaging Analyst [64] ——————————————————————————– So Ross, just to confirm, that’s $1 million on an annualized basis, isn’t it? ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [65] ——————————————————————————– Yes, give or take, that sort of level. So it does give us some efficiencies, but it’s not huge. ——————————————————————————– Keith Chau, MST Marquee – Building Materials & Packaging Analyst [66] ——————————————————————————– Okay. And then just a follow-up question on the guidance and potentially some of the impacts in the first half. You’ve mentioned $3.5 million from the cement plant outage, potentially $5 million to $10 million from the late start to the year. If you look at the trading updates — sorry, the trading days impact for the second half, what could that be from an order of magnitude perspective? ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [67] ——————————————————————————– Off the top of my head, I’m not sure. Bevan, do you have a view on that? I mean we don’t usually — I mean, I guess at the high level, we’re sort of saying it’s more 50-50. In terms of the overall, we’re thinking about the splits. And then we’re just trying to unbundle some of the things going on. I think there’s about 7 less trading days in the second half than the first half. Is that about right, Bevan? ——————————————————————————– Bevan McKenzie, Fletcher Building Limited – CFO [68] ——————————————————————————– That’s exactly right. The 7 fewer — and I guess the point is the way that’s fallen this year, if you think, for example, Auckland anniversary versus (inaudible). It’s also how they fall, which matters and, as Ross alluded, to Anzac and to Easter can impact the, I guess, the activity during those periods. ——————————————————————————– Keith Chau, MST Marquee – Building Materials & Packaging Analyst [69] ——————————————————————————– Okay. And then just one last question on the Residential business. So there were 515 houses sold in the period, in the first half period, and bear with me here. I think in the first 4 months, there were 372, so half of that being 171. So on an underlying basis for the first half, excluding that pull forward, or I guess, the catch-up from the prior year, the underlying number would have been closer to 344 in the first half. So if you’re guiding to 800 for the full year, it seems like, given the momentum in the market, that could be a bit of a conservative guidance. Can you pass some comment on that, please? ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [70] ——————————————————————————– Yes. Look, it’s — we could clearly sell more. We just do
n’t have the stock. So what it boils down to is as you enter into — I mean I think at this time last year, we were very cautious as to what the market may look like. So we’re — the 800 will be defined by 2 things: how much stock we’ve got to sell. And don’t forget, with the way the accounting standards work, if you haven’t settled it, it doesn’t get booked. So what we sell from May — by mid-May and June actually end up being in the following financial year. So the 800 is really about what we’ll be able to produce and have to sale. And even as we look into FY ’22, it’s again limited by just — more by what we can actually produce, which is why we can sort of look and say, look, we’re comfortably around 900 for the following financial year. And we’ve always said, look, once we get to 1,000, we’re quite content at that level so we’re not really — so we’re sort of saying to get to the annual throughput that we think we want to focus on as a sustainable level of that business. ——————————————————————————– Operator [71] ——————————————————————————– Your next question comes from Chris McKegg from Bank of America. ——————————————————————————– Chris McKegg, BofA Securities, Research Division – Research Analyst [72] ——————————————————————————– Just a couple from me. I was going to ask on the throughput there, but you just answered that. So just on the resin development, are you able to talk to some of the work you’re doing to scale up the division’s apartment business and what some of the target and time frames that are there in terms of volumes? ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [73] ——————————————————————————– Yes, sure. The — what we’ve got there is a team and what we’re sort of looking at the next 2 or 3 years is to scale it up to circa 300 apartment unit a year style of business. It will take that long. We’ve got a couple of the projects now that we’re focused on, which were coming out of what I call our natural sort of flows. So yes, so I’d say 3 years’ time, I’d be looking to do 300 apartments a year. But that will be absolutely dependent on what we look — the market looks like. And just as we scale up, we’re just happy with the model. We’ve sort of proved it up to date. But now as we scale it, we’ll keep those checks and balances in place. We’re not just going to charge in cavalier. We want this one to be quite considered. ——————————————————————————– Operator [74] ——————————————————————————– There are no further questions at this time. I will now hand back to Mr. Taylor for closing remarks. ——————————————————————————– Ross H. Taylor, Fletcher Building Limited – CEO [75] ——————————————————————————– Well, thank you, everyone. Appreciate you taking the time. And as I said, we’ll obviously have a number of interactions over the coming 2 weeks anyway and then ultimately back with everyone in May for a broader, more strategic overview and investor update. So thanks very much for your time. ——————————————————————————– Operator [76] ——————————————————————————– Thank you. That does conclude our conference for today. Thank you for participating. You may now disconnect.